There was a young man on the bus listening to music without headphones. The bus driver told him to use his headphones. He told her she must need a man in her life. The correlation being that deficiencies in other areas of her life causes her to take her job too seriously. He didn’t comply and she told him again. He complied momentarily but shortly after resumed playing his music at a lower volume.
I was momentarily conflicted. Subconsciously, I have an immediate bias for people who are resisting authority figures and the reason is I associate that resistance with resisting tyranny since a many rules are imposing without preventing imposition. In this situation it took me longer than it usually would to arrive at the correct moral judgement because of my initial bias for resistance.
When she heard his music she told him to use his headphones or she was going to pull the bus over and everyone could wait for the next bus. He responded that he didn’t have any headphones. I was initially against the driver in this threat. The purpose of the headphone rule is so people riding the bus do not have to listen to music they don’t like. Kicking all the passengers off of the bus to enforce a rule intended for passenger comfort doesn’t make any sense, and is really the driver attempting to win a personal dispute with this individual at the expense of everyone else.
My initial repulsion to her threat was rooted more in my history of being incarcerated, where correctional officers would often threaten group punishments if they didn’t know who was breaking a rule. They’d threaten to take away recreation, phone privileges, dayroom etc, and I used to despise the people who would whine about losing these privileges. This situation was of course different because the bus driver is not a correctional officer and the passengers are not inmates. There isn’t the contrast of interests and faction, although subconsciously, it appears similar in the bus driver being the authority figure responsible for enforcing rules on the bus where the passengers are responsible for following those rules. The similarity of the situation produces similar emotional responses until the distinctions are realized through comparison.
The rule itself prevents people from having to listen to music they’d prefer not to listen to while traveling on public transportation. The rule is reasonable to maximize the satisfaction of the passengers and it is the duty of the driver to enforce the rule for the benefit of the passengers. The issue is the rule isn’t consistently enforced, so any driver that enforces it seems like an asshole. Or as the young man implied is trying to make up for a deficiency in other areas of their life by being overly vigilant at their job at the expense of others.
I view some of the RTC rules like this. For example, maybe a month ago give or take a week or two, an RTC fare enforcement officer was harassing a man who had his eyes closed on the bus, waking him up and telling him to stay alert. This is a cuntish rule to me because the act of the man having his eyes closed doesn’t affect the experience of any of the other passengers. However, the rule prohibiting playing music does serve a purpose for the passengers, and the driver is right to enforce it, but still wrong to enforce it through a threat of a group punishment since as I stated it doesn’t make sense to cause a bigger problem for passengers to enforce a rule against a small problem that probably isn’t actually a problem for any of the passengers.
20 to 30 seconds after he said I don’t have any headphones I thought then you can’t listen to music on the bus. I began to grow angry which was amplified when he turned his music back up. I began looking for an in, and if she’d had told us to get off the bus I was ready to check the dude if he came at me wrong. This is because judging by his manner towards the driver I didn’t believe he’d listen to a lecture on liberty, rules, and respect. He turned his music back up because he was exiting at that stop.
When I saw him exit I was a little disappointed in myself because he was younger than I thought, maybe 16 to 18 years old. I imagined him seated behind me as being in his 20s, so I was disappointed that I was preparing to beat the shit out of a teenager for acting in a way that I myself probably would have acted towards a bus driver telling me to do something at that age.
It’s been my experience that people are not rational and are so biased towards their interest and position that they will not listen to reason. This isn’t always true and I should be considering the in for the lecture and see how it goes instead of becoming angry and preparing an in for intimidation with the potential for violence.
The passenger was wrong for not respecting a reasonable rule, the bus driver was wrong in her threat of enforcement, and I was wrong in becoming angry and preparing to take the angle I was preparing to take. There wrongs were in action, whereas my wrong was in what I was preparing to do.
This incident also caused me to consider my response to a staff member at the gym I attend who asked me if I had a mask. I used the bathroom at the gym and in the stall I took off my mask and forgot to put it back on when I went into the gym to begin my workout. When he asked me I said “oh shit, my fault”, produced my mask and proceeded with my work out. This is the second time I was confronted about a mask when I accidentally forgot to wear it in an area where a mask is required. The other time was a few months back in San Diego when I was on the train (they call them trolleys but they’re trains) and I said something similar like “sorry about that” but more importantly, I remembered feeling the same way. Knowing I was unintentionally in the wrong, but feeling subtly contrite as was also evident in both of my responses, and I believe this mild contrition is a product of knowing my oversight put these people in a position where they had to say something to me. The source of the contrition was making them do something they wouldn’t have had to do had I fulfilled my responsibility using those services.
There was another occasion when I was asked to put my mask on when I took it off in a place where masks were required intentionally. This was a little bit different because I noticed a man with his mask off who was talking to the owner or an employee of the laundromat. In this setting, I thought the owner wasn’t enforcing the rule, and if she wasn’t enforcing the rule I hate wearing masks. The main reason is because I believe it reinforces an exaggerated danger of a virus that is no more harmful than the flu. Covid-19 is less harmful to children, equally harmful to healthy people (sickness and recovery), and is capable of killing the same people that flu is capable of killing, those who already have one foot in the grave. Wearing a mask when not required to access services is the promotion of deception.