On Tuesday, 22 December at 12.30pm, I took a ride on BTC1 from Kent Ridge Terminal to Museum. The bus was PC3995D, driven by its usual driver whom I know personally.

Upon entering Kent Vale, a group of people boarded. The driver asked them to show their ID cards (note that the ID to show is now cards and no longer the uNivUS app). Most of them complied, but one man refused and argued with the driver, claiming that he has never been made to show ID to anyone except him. I’m not sure if he was a professor or family of a member of staff.

He made quite a bit of noise at my driver, saying that every other driver (even recently) let him on without anything, and began telling his friends that only this driver always gave him problems.

I’m not sure if he did actually pull out his Kent Vale residents’ card — if he did so, he did so reluctantly. I remember he just went into the middle of the bus and continued complaining about how he lived at Kent Vale for years and the drivers should recognise him, but only needed to prove his identity to this one bus driver.

Then he said, to his friend, something to the likes of “Get this right, you work for me, you don’t tell me what to do” — a statement that I find uncalled for and rude.

At the time, I was too tired to really mount a response. My bus driver ignored him (even though he was aware that the passenger was basically complaining on and on). I just shrugged to the driver and alighted later when my stop came, and I know my driver was fine. However, looking back I found the statement by the passenger rather disrespectful and problematic, and I wanted to do something about it because this attitude shouldn’t be perpetuated in NUS.

At the same time, though, it’s difficult to pursue this through traditional means because it might mean the other drivers suffer more consequences than this fellow. Now, I don’t honestly believe that the other drivers really don’t check at all. I wouldn’t want to blame the other drivers for being a bit more lax in their enforcement of checking ID, particularly at Kent Vale, but I can believe that if they do, this is exactly because they want to avoid confrontations like this one.

Everyone is indeed wary of the virus and nobody wants to run the risk of letting an infected outsider board the bus. Either way, if I formally raise up a report, I’m concerned that the focus will end up being on other drivers not insisting on ID rather than this passenger’s attitude.

In contrast, I think the statement I heard from the passenger reflects a very entitled and disrespectful mindset, in which the driver is treated without dignity. Our ISB drivers should not be seen as below us passengers. Of course, it is factually inaccurate to say that the driver works for him. The driver works for his employer, ComfortDelGro Bus, who is contracted by NUS to provide the ISB service. He is fulfilling his obligations as set out by his employer according to NUS.

But furthermore, just because someone is in a position of providing you a service, it does not mean that he can’t give instructions. We’re in a pandemic — boarding of ISBs is restricted to those with valid ID. This information is not only on the OCA website and emailed out to the NUS community — it is written on a sign in the window of the bus. And bus drivers have been asking to see ID ever since the circuit breaker; during the zoning period which lasted from July until December, they asked to see the uNivUS app.

The driver has every right to demand ID from passengers and has been doing so for months. So I don’t see how the logic of “you work for me” is supposed to work. The driver can refuse boarding if you insist on not showing ID.

I regret that I didn’t say anything on the spot, even though I was in a position to, but thankfully my driver didn’t seem too upset — I think he is used to this entitled passenger ranting to friends about him. I think I should have humbly reached out to let him know, and clear the bus driver’s name. But I implore all of my readers to remember to treat bus drivers with respect and to follow their instructions.

Checking ID: it’s not personal and it’s not a matter of trust — this is about complying with regulations and nobody is above them. Even I, whom all the drivers know personally, make it a point to flash my student card when I board. If the driver doesn’t ask to see your card, fine, but when he does, don’t put up a fight.

If you are the person involved, I hope you apologise to the driver. I understand, even if I find it hard to believe, that nobody has asked you for ID before, but I hope you understand that the driver was simply following his rules and has no obligation to bend them for one passenger.

I understand we’re all having a rough year — I’ve been having one, which is why I didn’t stand up for the driver on the spot — but this isn’t a good attitude to hold; please don’t be entitled.

Let’s not condemn the passenger too much either — we’re all human — but I hope he sees what is wrong.

One thought on ““You Work For Me”

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