I wasn’t going to say anything but I can’t sit by and just ignore the behavior of the high school children (and I use that word because that is how most of them behaved) that were on the bus on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. I can’t comment on anything that happened before I got there but I was one of only two adult riders on the 3:00 Essex Center Silver loop that day until Hannafords when another adult paid and got on the bus. I came to get on the bus and had to hold up my hand with my transfer & say “paying customer” to get through the kids at the door of the bus. No big deal but I knew something was up because that was not usual behavior and I have been riding the bus twice daily to work at UVM for the last 6 years even before the high school students had to use it to get around.

The other adult on the bus gave me his seat and until 3:00 I was subjected to constant bad language — f-word this and f-word that — from a small group of these children. I know GMT has a policy that I’ve seen many drivers address where they request the person(s) from using bad language and in this particular case, the driver would have been well within his right, as an authority figure who is charged with driving this bus, to ask the children to stop the bad language. But that wasn’t the worst of what I heard. There was a girl who spent almost the entire ride belittling the driver saying he didn’t go to college (and she knew this how?) and insinuating that his intelligence was so low that this was the only job he could get. And this was all said clearly for the driver and all the surrounding people to hear. That made me so mad and so sad to think that this was the best way this young person could think to handle a situation where they were asked by an authority figure to do something and their best response was f-you and then insult their intelligence. If I were that child’s parents, I would be ashamed.

When I got home, I googled the ID policy (because I was pretty sure the driver was correct in asking the students to show ID). I wish I had thought of it on the bus because I was surrounded by children with smartphones who could have been asked to do the same. I did not ever hear the driver say anything about the police — I heard him say he was waiting for his supervisor but when it was 3:00 he had to leave because those are adult rules — you do the job you are paid to do and his job was to ask students for their IDs and stick to the schedule. I can’t address anything he did after he left Amtrak but I saw students leaving the bus and calling the driver an f-ing idiot and giving him the finger, as has been suggested by one of these kids. Real responsible behavior if this is how your children deal with authority figures.

You know, the world is tough — even as an adult — people are going to tell you what to do and you are almost always required to carry ID and you have to do your job because people are depending on you. Those are adult rules and that’s the real world. I don’t think many of the children on that bus are being prepared for the real world. I worry about the state of our youth if this is how they behave in dealing with an adult authority figure. Bullies are made and not born and what I saw was bullying by children most of whom have been raised better than that.

I apologized to the driver because I know how hard their job is and I realized I had to tell what I saw even if it does nothing at all to help. Even if just one parent asks their kid “what did you say to the bus driver” and gets the truth, it will be worth it. But I doubt that will happen — the asking or the truth-telling.

Susan Mower

Recommended for you