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After two weeks of quarantine, MBTA bus driver returns to work scared, angry

DigBoston interviews an MBTA driver:

In other emergency situations, such as during or after a snowstorm, we take people who need a ride from point A to point B. But now, we are not always transporting essential workers. Maybe first thing in the morning, yes. But then, we are picking up people who are simply reckless or who have nowhere to go. And for this, I am risking my life and those of my family?

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Comments

Why does the citation not include what the driver said after returning to work? He was given a mask and gloves and felt safer. To omit this seems to show that there is bias in the reporting.
Also the driver has no way to determine the reason that any person rides the bus.

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Voting closed 11

Have you taken the T recently? It is frightening! Homeless people are camping out on some cars, and the ones not asleep either act bonkers and/or become aggressive asking for change jeopardizing everyone's health. Pulling into Central Sq Station I observed two junkies on the platform ready to pass out and thankfully unable to board the train I was on. My partner works Downtown and he says it is even WORSE. I fear for his safety and mine! I have stopped taking the bus because Cambridge Hospital is on its route. At the Cambridge Hospital stop junkies and other deadbeats get on. I am fortunate to be able to walk to work, but a T bus driver does not have the option. They are not trained health professionals and ought to be able to refuse service to motley passengers thus protecting the elderly and essential workers that need to take the T. Living in the city I can spot an obvious junkie very quickly. It is a skill I wish I never had to acquire but does protect me a tiny bit.

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Please don’t use the word Junkie. That is someone’s child, father,sister Aunt Or Uncle. Yes they are Drug addicts and annoy us at times (a lot of times). I am a bus driver and I do cringe at times. Yet you don’t know their stories or the stories of their loved ones. So please speak concerning yourself and not every essential MBTA operator

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Very well put. I couldn’t of had written it better
Peace and love

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How can he know this?

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Voting closed 38

When you're a T bus driver or in any type of transportation service, you develop a sense that usually allows you to make educated guesses about such things.

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Voting closed 56

" Maybe first thing in the morning, yes. But then, we are picking up people who are simply reckless or who have nowhere to go."

Yeaaaaah that's not how shifts work. Also, society needs more than just hospital workers to function. Also, people need to get groceries, medicine, etc. Not everyone can afford to drop $$ on insane delivery prices and fees and "tips".

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I feel for the MBTA worker. We call them heroes, but is that cruel? Would victims be a better word? I don't know. But I agree with everything they say. For those out there in public, you have my respect and I agree. I don't know. I just know that I am worried. This is all so awful.

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Someone on Twitter said when we call people heros, it means we're prepared to let them die or don't value their lives as people; they are expendable, disposable..

Consider the 9/11 first responders who had to fight every year for medical treatment. And the senior veterans at care homes fighting for their lives during this pandemic. The first 13 deaths at Holyoke was a scandal, the number bring over 60 now is criminal. Medical staff with insufficient PPE.

Bus driver is correct. The MBTA not running extra buses to support distancing and passengers making nonessential trips (he cannot know which they are) are gambling with his life. But it's normal now.

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You are justifiably scared and angry but your problems have just started. MBTA management will find you and destroy your reputation for having the courage to speak to the media. The propaganda experts at the MBTA will throw you under the bus for speaking to a reporter from the Dig.

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Please repeat what you said but make it about a paramedic, nurse, or a fireman .

What would be your response to them saying that?

I'm sure the words would not be nice.

I understand the scare factor. But so do the nurses, doctors, firemen, police folks, and everyone who is working right now. Join the club.

You can be like two of my nurse friends right now and decided their life was more important than their job, and walk away. You still have that choice. Sucks for the patients who now will have 2 less nurses, but good for their families who will see their face another day.

Its a tough decision, but when you signed up, you were deemed essential. Essential means essential in any case, pandemic or not. You knew this the day you signed your contract.

If you don't like it.. you know where the door is. If you can't do the job, don't. I've walked away from many myself where I could not do the job.

And before I get slammed, I'm gonna say this.. I've personally grown tired of the T drivers being whiney about this. We're all in this together, I don't like it just as much as anyone else, but to sit here and complain when all 28b people in this country are feeling the same thing.

Just remember folks, these people get decent pay, overtime, healthcare, pension, and other things long before COVID 19. Far more than I can say the same people working supermarkets, and retail stores right now that make SIGNIFICANTLY less. Those people aren't deemed as essential, never have before. But now are because people need food., and they didn't sign up for it. Like your job, people need transit, but you signed up for this knowing you are essential.

Put your seatbelt on and sucker up, folks.

and let the flames begin..

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Voting closed 68

You can be like two of my nurse friends right now and decided their life was more important than their job, and walk away.

Most people don't have the option to just walk away from their job without losing their ability to clothe, feed and shelter themselves. 26 million people have lost their jobs in the past 5 weeks (including myself). It's not like people have the ability to just go out and find a new job lickity split right now. This is kind of a disgusting rant, man.

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Voting closed 73

He also changed his tune by the end of the day, according to the article:

I interviewed Mickey again after he completed his first day of work after quarantine. He seemed like a different person than the one who spoke with me the day before. Suddenly, he sounded genuinely glad to be back, telling me he loves being a bus driver. “I feel like the king of the road,” he said.

Can you blame the guy for feeling anxious about returning to work under the present conditions? It should be just as notable that he DID rise to the occasion.

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But he has the right to complain too. All he is really saying Is that there are people (well call them non-essential for the purposes of this post even though that’s a horrible term) who are out and about, getting on buses, not wearing masks, crowding others, etc, etc and that is endangering everyone. I’m sure he doesn’t know whether this number is 1% or 50% of the riding population but it’s probably in there somewhere. Granted it might come off a little selfish, but I think the general point is that there are people who are going to Home Depot just to get out of the house, people going out to get coffee when they can make it at home, people who are going to Walmart to get their 654th can of beans, etc, etc.

I think basically everyone needs to keep this unnecessary contact to a minimum, and this driver is just pointing out that people aren’t doing that, and it’s making everyone less safe.

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Voting closed 54

...because, um, they need something?

Maybe they live in the city and don't have a car, or the wherewithal to take a cab/Uber/Lyft, or the time to wait for a delivery. These people have every have every right to take the #8 or #10 bus or the Red Line or the Commuter Rail to get there. Yes, they should wear face coverings and stay away from the driver, but even non-essential people should be able to get the essentials.

I find it hard to believe that people are taking MBTA joy rides for the thrill of a Home Depot field trip just to get out of the house.

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Because I personally know someone who works at Home Depot who told me that. Said he encountered people who said they were just getting their family out of the house looking to do odd jobs that didn’t really need to be done this month and things like that.

No shit people need to go to Home Depot for essential things. Just like people use the bus for essential things. The point overall is that there might be too many people in the Boston are not taking this shelter in place thing as serious as they should.

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You order online, park in one of the designated spaces, call the phone number posted on the sign, and a staff person wearing a mask and gloves brings it to your car.

Regarding buses, I think most people who ride the bus do it because they have no other choice, now and in the past. They might not look "essential" but have to show up at work. The hours they work may not fall into the usual shifts, and given the reduced service their commutes may be longer.

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Instead of inviting a useless fight where you aren't coming out looking good, I'd suggest putting yourself in his shoes for a moment before you post something childish like "sucker up." We're absolutely NOT all in the same situation. He's in a scary public service job all day every day and venting about it because he was specifically asked by a reporter.

Based on your previous posts, you're safe at home.

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Voting closed 66

We're all in this together, I don't like it just as much as anyone else, but to sit here and complain when all 28b people in this country are feeling the same thing.

Did you just claim there's 28 billion people in the country?

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no, I don't think upon applying for or accepting the job, a bus driver has anywhere near the same process of risk calculation that a nurse, EMT, or police officer does. yes, they're both public-facing "essential" jobs, but really, would you put them in the same category of exposure and risk?

everyone is allowed to feel scared and nervous and angry even. that person getting benefits "since before this started" doesn't magically make those concerns any less valid or somehow make them worthy of sacrifice. and just because they express those concerns doesn't mean they are diminishing the also very valid concerns of other "essential" workers.

empathy is important and it's not zero-sum.

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There are alwyas people with addiction and mental health issues riding the T. I'm sure the numbers have not gone up, maybe down since the reduced service started. But I think drivers think they make up a much higher percentage of the riding public now, especially in the evening.

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I agree but would like to add that these essential workers should have been better equipped with protective gear in the beginning. Masks and gloves were supplied way to late.

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No the Mbta employee did not sign up to put his life on the line just for driving somebody somewhere… He’s not a doctor or a nurse that’s a whole different occupation... he deserves to have a decent job where he gets a good pay and health insurance... if you are so jealous of that ...you could apply at the Mbta and then you’ll know what it’s like... especially right now seems like you just didn’t like the Mbta long before this ...one of this ex who always has a complaint....They deserve hazard is pay since now it seems to be hazardous to the health they deserve more pay if anything... go away

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I'm not sure what's going on with buses during this virus situation, but it makes me think of more normal times when I have noticed the phenomenon that there seems to be this subculture of people who simply like to ride T buses in their neighborhoods. There is a bus I take when I need to, and I notice that no matter what time of day I get on (although less so at night), or in what direction, there is always at least one of four of five of the same people always on it. These are not homeless people, and they are mostly women. They have no specific destination and are always chatting away with the driver or with other riders.

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I'm not an essential worker, no, and my work is done from home even in normal times. But essential workers are providing essential services, and those services aren't always available remotely.

If I take the T right now, it will be because the pharmacies in walking distance of my house are out of stock on my medicine, a medicine that requires a paper prescription and can't be mailed. It won't be for the pleasure of looking out the bus windows, or the delights of seeing the shelves of a different CVS.

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We're criminalizing leaving the house and convincing people that fresh air can kill them.

Of course people are confused why you're taking the bus to buy Lysol.

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that leaving the house is not actually criminalized, and that taking walks outside is *recommended* by state officials; what is your suggestion for mitigating covid-19 from a public health viewpoint?

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N/T

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About that:

[I]n towns like Brookline, which is requiring all people to wear a mask when out in public, health officials do plan to issue fines to businesses for every employee not complying with their rules, according to Dr. Swannie Jett, the town’s health commissioner.

So far the town hasn’t cited anyone, Jett said, but noted that officials are ready to issue fines and “personally cite individuals” who don’t wear masks or coverings..."

https://www.masslive.com/coronavirus/2020/04/as-more-massachusetts-citie...

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but in reality, civil infractions are punished by fine all the time. ever gotten a speeding ticket?

feel free to move the goalposts again when you’re ready.

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No, you're nitpicking. Nobody else in this discussion cares about distinguishing a civil fine from a criminal charge. The point is you get fined if you don't follow this rule.

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Frontline civil servants, essential employees picking up the fallout of failed political policy. It's not good, nobody who drives a bus or works in retail grocery signed up to maintain civilization during a pandemic. Not for what we are getting paid.

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As a person who depends on our bus drivers and is a rider of the 39, the 14, and the 1, I am 100 percent on the bus drivers' side. They put up with a lot of crap. A lot of rude slobs who never wear masks, a lot of riders who choose not to practice good hygiene, a lot of assaults and sometimes assault and battery.

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Voting closed 9

As a person who depends on our bus drivers and is a rider of the 39, the 14, and the 1, I am 100 percent on the bus drivers' side. They put up with a lot of crap. A lot of rude slobs who never wear masks, a lot of riders who choose not to practice good hygiene, a lot of assaults and sometimes assault and battery.

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Voting closed 11

government job. From Quincy to South Station, then back. I'm well paid so not complaining about that. I scan every train coming into the station for obvious mentally ill, disheveled, unhygenic homeless folks who riding back and forth because they have nowhere to go or won't go to shelters. They're usually sleeping on the seats in trains and stations. Every train car has them at all times. I remian standing. Then there's the druggies. All ages. Unstable, unhygenic. Some (especially the young men) can be scary and intimidating to especially women, kids and older folks. Usually zero noticiable police presence. Trains, stations are being used to warehouse homeless, mostly mentally ill and/or druggies.

The train and station ckeaners, all appear to be central American immigrants, are doing an outstanding job..Amd they're unfailingly polite and pleasant.

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Voting closed 10

...just north of the city had neither gloves or masks on.

Nor did our local FedEx Ground driver.

We have FARtoo many idiots who "know better" and/or won't wear PPE to "own the libs" existing in our day to day lives that to relax the lockdown even slightly is far too dangerous.

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Voting closed 3

but is he taking surveys of all his passengers now?

This seems like a thinly veiled swipe of a certain subset of passengers by a previously (and possibly perpetually) aggrieved MBTA employee.

The guy could always just quit.

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The world can seem scarier sitting at home, reading the headlines, than it does when you get out there. I don't begrudge this guy his concerns, but if he has a mask and the riders (now mostly masked) are kept away from him, he should be OK.

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This quote is from before he started working again, not after.

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But that was the quote Adam chose to focus on

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I'm sympathetic to transit workers, especially now, but it's always dangerous when government employees try to classify some citizens as essential and others inferior, in this case, deciding who is worthy of a ride on public transportation and who isn't.

At it's worst, this is a scary example of government "separating the wheat from the chaff" based on appearances and perceived importance, segregating one person thought to be important from another deemed worthless. Some argue, "never let a crisis go to waste," but let's not allow a temporary health scare to justify outright discrimination.

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since when is inferior an antonym of essential?

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inferior - (adjective) 1: of little or less importance, value, or merit

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Voting closed 5

"Essential" does not mean important; "nonessential" does not mean inferior, of little or less importance/value/merit. A closer analogy would be "necessary", whose antonym is "unnecessary". Neither is a value judgment.

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Voting closed 11

Essential means of extreme importance or utmost importance.
So go read a dictionary while you are stuck at home.

At least try to match words with their meanings.

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Essential means of extreme importance or utmost importance.

It means absolutely necessary.

So go read a dictionary while you are stuck at home.

Go do the same, sea lion AKSHULLY.

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inferior - (adjective) 1: of little or less importance, value, or merit

now do essential

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it's always dangerous when government employees try to classify some citizens as essential and others inferior, in this case, deciding who is worthy of a ride on public transportation and who isn't.

We have here a vague and unsubstantiated assertion that something is "dangerous", without reference to either the source or nature of the "danger". Perhaps the source is these "government employees", whose judgment Fish seems to fear because...well, I guess because they're government employees. Interestingly enough, other government employees with guns and badges, who have the power and the authority to kill, don't seem to provoke this fear reaction, but perhaps being told you're not allowed to use the bus is a worse fate than being shot. Then we have Fish's fallacious association of nonessential with "inferior" and "worthless", and labeling judgments of what is essential as "outright discrimination". And finally, let's not overlook his labeling of the coronavirus pandemic as a "temporary health scare". I wonder what he calls other lethal threats.

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Voting closed 11

Hospitals also have lots of custodial workers, food workers, maintenence, etc. They probably don't "look like" the essential workers we think of right away, but are just as important (and paid a fraction of doctors/nurses).

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Sounds to me like this is a great example of why we need automated, unmanned subways, like so many places around the world have now.

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Maybe first thing in the morning, yes. But then, we are picking up people who are simply reckless or who have nowhere to go. And for this, I am risking my life and those of my family?

What a dick. So you think you can tell when people who are "essential" go to work? I work for a company deemed "essential" and we have plenty of staff that work second (4pm-midnight) and third shifts (midnight-8am), plus an odd shift that works 11am-8pm. People also go out shopping for food or go to doctor's appointments at all hours of the day, not just rush hour. You want these people to have to justify themselves to you to go to work?

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I think his comment wasn't towards the people hes driving, more so about most of his passengers being intoxicated and belligerent. That's all that seems to be out there riding around. I haven't seen many doctors or nurses. It's sad because many times if they are really intoxicated Transit needs to come or emts and now they are being put at risk. He wasn't saying everyone of his passengers but most are the issue ones.

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