Change Your Attitude

by David G. Thorne

“I’m sure they pick the grumpiest ones they can find.” How many times have you spoken or heard someone else articulate those words? The curmudgeonly target of your ire is almost certainly a bus driver or train conductor. They’ve almost become a cliché. 

How many times have you waited, hand outstretched with a fistful of cash and been astonished to have your head bitten off by the ticket collector? I am certain that at some time you have gone home and complained to your loved ones about the ferocious bus driver who remonstrated with you in front of a charabanc full of commuters. You may even have made a complaint to the transport company about the rudeness of their staff.

Did he wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Has his wife just left him for the milkman? Has he got toothache or a case of Delhi Belly? Is he just a terminally bad tempered old fart? No! I’ll tell you what is wrong. It’s you. 

What’s that you say? I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m just trying to get to my destination and this officious oaf is being as unhelpful as possible. Think again buddy. It is 100%, unequivocally, irrefutably and entirely your fault.

I can see you shaking your head. Hexhamite must have lost the plot . He should be on our side. How can Mr Angry possibly be siding with the Transport Gestapo? 

I repeat, if you’ve had a bad experience with a bus driver or train conductor then as sure as day follows night the fault lies at your feet, and the problem will have started before you boarded whichever clapped-out mode of transport you have deemed worthy of your patronage.

Open your hand. See that crumpled banknote? There is your problem. When Hexhamite was a boy and God still wore short trousers, it was considered extremely rude to get on a bus without the correct fare. If you did not have coins you went and bought a newspaper or a tube of extra strong mints so that you did. Expecting the conductor to provide change of more than £1 was unheard of.

In today’s overly affluent, me-first society, showing such consideration is scoffed at. Handing over a £10 or £20 note for a £1.30 fare is the norm. Today’s punter does not grasp the notion that a conductor carries a float. He is not a bloody bank!

When he asks if you have any smaller change, what do you reply? I was running late? The ticket office was closed? I usually have change? Not my problem? I thought you carried a float? Can’t you do the rest of the tickets and return with my change? Everyone else is certain to have change. 

95% of the idiots travelling our networks think this way and there is no acceptable excuse. It is discourteous and inconsiderate. See the Conductors point-of-view, and be grateful that the worse he does is scowl. You deserve a fat lip.

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