Wednesday. Sprinting up Minnesota at 9:59, I anxiously turn to look east down 6th street. I slow to a walk and breathe a heavy sigh of relief as I see my bus safely in the distance. I get to the corner in time to see a young Black man with braided hair, leather jacket and sagging pants, snuffing out a cigarette in the crack between The Exit doors. He taps on the glass with his knuckles. No response. He blocks the reflection with his hands to peer inside. He taps again. Nothing. After a beat, he slaps the glass once with both hands and shouts, “Open the door.” The ten or more of us at the bus stop take notice. He begins to hit the door repeatedly, C’mon bitch, open the fuckin’ door! You mutha fuckin’ old bitch-ass!” Surely this will persuade her to do the right thing. Soon he is violently pounding on the door and shouting something like, “Open the goddam door you crazy old-white-bitch-ass piece of shit mutha fuckin’ bitch….stupid…goddam…SHIT!” He gives up and stomps away from the building. Well, sort of. With the pants sagging below his ass, it is more of an angry crab-walk. All the while, telling those of us enjoying the sunshine and 46 degrees what a bitch-ass she is for not letting him in. Only moments later, while boarding the 54 with us, he asks rhetorically, “Do you belee dat shit?” Sure, why not?
It has been about 5 months since I have had to call in late for work due to missing the bus. If we take unscheduled leave from work for illness or any other reason, we must call Ops (Operations Center) and state this reason as well as the estimated length of our absence. Upon return to our work location, we must then fill out a form indicating the date and time period of our absence, and check a box indicating whether we wish to apply accrued Sick Leave, Annual Leave, Comp Time or take LWOP. Nobody chooses to take Leave without Pay. I used Annual Leave for my multiple .25-hour absences. Late December, I received mandatory counseling regarding this tardiness. Behind closed doors, my supervisor read from page one of a four-page document to inform me that I have been tardy for work 17 times in the last six months. She shows me the written record of dates and times. In all fairness, at least three of these were due to migraine issues. The remaining 14 indicated 15-minute late starts. Probably transportation related. I attempted to remain contrite through the shaming process…this behavior is very unprofessional and makes it appear that I have little respect for BLANK or my co-workers. Every time I am tardy, I let my team down, set a poor example, etc. Page two required my signature acknowledging that I received counsel in this matter. Pages three and four were interactive. My supervisor’s pen is poised to record my response to a few questions. 1) What is the reason for this pattern of behavior? I no longer own a car and am new to commuting by bus. I have had difficulty getting the hang of the bus schedule. 2) Do you intend to correct this pattern of behavior? (I consider humorous options…nope. Not worth the risk) Yes. 3) What steps will you take to correct this pattern of behavior? I will set my alarm for 8 instead of 8:30 and stop hitting snooze. I will memorize the bus schedule for weekdays as well as Saturday, Sundays and holidays. I will make every attempt to catch an earlier bus. Additional comments: I did not realize that I had been tardy so many times. Thank you for making me aware of this, and I hereby make a commitment to correct this inexcusable pattern of behavior.
While I am quite proud of the fact that I did not miss the bus today, I study the angry young man a few rows in front of me and amuse myself with a hypothetical. What if because that old white lady didn’t open the door for him, he finally snaps? What if he grabs that wooden cane from the hands of the old man in front, and begins swinging it like a baseball bat? What if Bob checks the mirror to see why people are screaming, sees Darla bleeding and unconscious, then loses control of the wheel and careens into Cooper’s Foods? What if the last words I ever hear are, “Ya think my crab-walkin’ is funny now, bitch? Y’all proud and shit now that you didn’t miss the mutha-fuckin’ bus, you white-bitch-ass mutha-fucka?” In this fantasy, I smile one last smile; flattered that my murderer did not address me as an OLD-white-bitch-ass.