The Unbearable Banishment: A moral quandary: What would you do?

Friday, October 5, 2012

A moral quandary: What would you do?

Nothing irritates me more than texting while driving. It's a thing with me. I get much angrier than I should. The amount of anger that washes over me is so grotesquely out of proportion to the offense being committed that I consider this one of my problems. When I see someone texting behind the wheel, my first impulse is to run them off the road. That would be crazy. Right?

The bus drivers who take me in and out of the city on a daily basis are not a happy bunch. It's a difficult job. They're not looking to make any new friends. They mostly come off as being curt, edgy and are prone to scowl and grunt at you as you climb aboard. It's all your fault.

But one guy makes an effort to be customer-friendly. Always a greeting. Big smile on his face. A real sweetheart.

So what do I do when I find this gentle soul amongst a team of marauding huns texting while driving a bus load of lemmings?

Do I turn his ass in? Because he'll probably lose his job.

We were flying out of the Lincoln Tunnel and entering the helix onto the New Jersey Turnpike. It's not like we were stuck in traffic and at a standstill. See how the cars in other lane are blurred?

In this last pic, he's using BOTH HANDS to text and steers the bus with the back of his left hand.

Imagine my daughters being told that dad died in a bus wreck and that the wreck occurred because the driver was TEXTING. And never mind the loss of life. The company would be brought down by the weight of all the litigation.

Do I send these photos to the bus company, which will probably get him fired? Or let it go and be glad I survived the incident?


Blogger Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Tough one. I don't think I'd send the pictures to the bus company, but I might either send a strongly worded email to the bus company explaining what I saw and not naming any names, or have a quiet word with the driver when I got off the bus.

This is entirely hypothetical because in London, the drivers have massive screens up so you can't talk to them without yelling, and the buses don't ever get above about 5mph anyway. One I was on the other day did manage to crash into a Range Rover at that speed though.

October 5, 2012 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

As infuriating as it is, and I do agree with your point in regard to the weans safety, telling tales is no the right thing to do. Let's leave that to the bedroom warriors and those with nae baws.

A quiet word in his wee ear and a 'suggestion' that you will be watching him in future is the best way forward. Catch him doing it again and that is a different matter. Perhaps showing him that you have taken a photie of him driving and texting will solve the problem?

October 5, 2012 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Jo + Chef: My initial reaction -- because I'm a reactionary -- was to send these photos and let him suffer the consequences. But you've softened my resolve. Minimally, I think I should make him aware of it. Any of the other drives would punch me in the face. I get the feeling he'll be contrite.

October 5, 2012 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Gorilla Bananas said...

I vote for giving him a warning AND telling the bus company you've noticed one of their drivers texting (without naming him). That way he'll feel the heat without getting fired.

October 5, 2012 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

GB: You gave me an idea. I'll take the most offencive pic, obscure the driver in Photoshop, and send it to the bus company as a cautionary tale. For a lower species you're pretty smart.

October 5, 2012 at 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Svenquist said...

I'm sure you would have had no problem reporting him and demanding right then and there that he STOP the bus if you suddenly noticed that he was drunk or high on drugs––whether he was an affable exception to your usual lot or not.

Well, as far as I'm concerned, his lapse of judgment in this case is no different from driving drunk. He is professional driver, for goodness sake. If ANYONE should know better....

Perhaps if word got out that people were getting fired/penalized for such life-thrreatedning idiocy–and that is all it is–society would realize that putting down the freakin' portable devices every now and then will not result in the end of the world. But not doing so could result in theirs.

October 5, 2012 at 9:00 PM  
Anonymous svenquist said...

And, fyi, I really do know how to spell "threatening." The auto-correct in the post above somehow freaked on me...

October 5, 2012 at 10:49 PM  
Blogger Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

Fire the bastard's ass.

October 5, 2012 at 11:26 PM  
Blogger dinahmow said...

Jesus, UB! Report this. Now. You need not name him; a photo should be enough.
Chances are the company has already noticed or been told of things like this.
I read the NYTimes and if I read of carnage on the Turnpike...Svenquist is right.Such drivers are stupid.

October 5, 2012 at 11:57 PM  
Blogger Ms Scarlet said...

You could put the pictures on a blog and then wait for a bus company person to stumble across it....


October 6, 2012 at 3:41 AM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

i suppose i'm getting a little soft - but i believe in a warning shot across the bow. tell him. quietly, and out of earshot of others.

and scarlet makes a good point. he may already feel the heat should someone else take your photos and make an effort to get him buste....

October 6, 2012 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

CB: That was my initial reaction, too. And I thought I was being overly critical but you make an excellent point. I don't even feel crazy for photographing him anymore.

TSB: Easy to say. What he has a family and a mortgage?

Dinah: So this IS serious, right? I'm not being a big baby. This time.

October 6, 2012 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

Jo's suggestion. I agree. Oh, wait .. reading others ... they all have good ideas. Isn't it great the online community can help with these moral dilemmas! Let us know what you eventually do.

October 6, 2012 at 3:42 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Scarlet: In order for that to work I'd need to post them to a blog with a hell of a lot more readers than I have!

daisy: Your solution requires confrontation. I abhor confrontation. I've always avoided it. It's not a trait that has served me will in the workplace or in relationships.

Ellie: Each comment is a persuasive argument. I'll make up my mind one way, read a counter-argument and do a complete 180. Being easily manipulated is exhausting.

October 6, 2012 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Well, considering it is against the law up here to use your cell phone for anything (unless you have a bluetooth handsfree device and then you can answer calls) while driving, I think you should talk to him first. If caught again, report him, giving the bus and route number. He is putting lives in danger.

Case in point... a couple of years ago, one of the women I work with came in the day after there was a horrific single car crash that claimed a young man's life. Her daughter was best friends with the young man's girlfriend and they were texting back and forth when the accident happened. How do you not have nightmares for the rest of your life, knowing that you were partly the cause of that kid's death? Knowing that you were online with him the instant he crashed?

Too often, accidents are caused by "driver distraction" from people stupid and reckless enough to think they can have their eyes and hands on their phones and not on the road/wheel while driving. Why, I even had the experience of having a woman walk out into the street in front of me (I was driving) while texting. I saw her... she never saw me... until I laid on the horn and gave her a heart attack! (That saved her great bodily harm, although she probably doesn't even consider that.)

October 7, 2012 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

The dilemma is because he is uch a sweetie but I agree you must do something - as soon as possible.

October 8, 2012 at 5:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Photoshop his face out and send it to the bus company?

I think reserve and consideration is one thing, but not when he had people's lives in his hands. Or rather, a mobile phone.

October 8, 2012 at 5:34 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Pat: I almost wish it were one of the bastards. It would make taking action so much easier.

looby: That's exactly what I've decided to do. It's too cruel to throw a man out of his job. But It seem irresponsible to do NOTHING.

October 8, 2012 at 6:54 AM  
Blogger Kono said...

Nice guy or not do you want to see your daughters grow up? I'd just lay it out to him, stop it now, it takes all of one millisecond for that bus to be a fiery, twisted ball of metal, when your profession is fucking driving then you best well drive and do it to the best of your abilities, if you are so god damn important that you need to text and keep in contact with the world at all times then i suspect you'd have a chauffer... i'm sick and tired of watching people dick around on their phones in traffic, i do my best thinking while sitting there the last thing i want to do is talk to someone.... Would you let your drunk friend drive you home if you were sober? same thing here.

October 8, 2012 at 10:02 AM  
Anonymous paulo1 said...

But where does it end? What about the driver who at the critical moment tips his head back to get the last ( and I mean last ) drop of his morning coffee? Or the lady who glances in the mirror for a few seconds too long to check her make-up (that's not intended to be sexist) or any number of other scenarios where your eyes are off the road to attend to matters that could be dealt with at the next stop sign or red light.Practically anything you do can kill you, or some unfortunate innocent, if the planets are aligned against you . I'd have a quiet word in his ear and let him know that the next time will be the last.

October 8, 2012 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

kono: I showed the pics to another driver this morning. He said that if I send them to the company and identify the driver, he is guaranteed to be fired. That's a lot of responsibility. But what if I read about a crash + death and it was this jerk-off? Am I going to feel somewhat culpable because I didn't take him off the road?

Paulo: You shouldn't be checking your make-up or taking your eyes off the road for any reason. ESPECIALLY if you hold the lives of 48 people in your hand. And texting is a whole other level of negligence. These are poor analogies you draw.

October 9, 2012 at 7:14 AM  
Blogger Tham said...

Some idiot driver on the North-South highways in Malaysia quite a few years ago,
while not texting, thought he was a Grand Prix driver, zooming and swerving for
all he cared, and this on a night trip.

He ended up slide-slicing the side of his bus against some oncoming lorry.
Some 11 passengers lost their lives, and I believe one or two were decapitated.

The Prime Minister at the time, Abdullah Badawi, was infuriated to the extent that
he voiced his comments in the papers.

The guy ended up in the slammer for seven years. I think he's still there.

October 9, 2012 at 4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few years ago here in Los Angeles a Metrolink train conductor drove his train into a head-on collision with another passenger train. 25 people died and four times that number were crippled and injured.

He was texting leading up to the crash, his last text sent less than a minute before the collision.

But what if I read about a crash + death and it was this jerk-off? Am I going to feel somewhat culpable because I didn't take him off the road?

I think you will, or the thought wouldn't even cross your mind.

I wouldn't want to live with that knowledge and I wouldn't want you to live with it either.

October 9, 2012 at 4:39 PM  
Anonymous paulo1 said...

I don't think they are poor analogies at all. The two examples I offered are just two actions I have witnessed dozens of times which are just as distracting, at the critical moment, as using a cell phone but which couldn't possibly be legislated against. You can ban cell phones ( fat good that will do ) but you can't ban every act that takes your eye off the road. Always bear in mind that it might be the small act, the coffee drinker, that precipitates the calamity.

October 9, 2012 at 8:24 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Tham: He SHOULD still be in the slammer. He's a murderer. I think it's called involuntary manslaughter.

MP: I remember that story vividly! I am obsessed with text-related traffic mishaps. I have dark visions of a family member being struck down by someone texting. I'd lose it.

Paulo: I still think that texting is a completely different scenario than the ones you describe. It's certainly a longer distraction than a sip of coffee.

October 10, 2012 at 7:12 AM  

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