Egged is Israel’s main bus company. Every day, without exaggeration, I would guess they move millions of people in hundreds of cities, towns and villages in Israel. The challenge they often face – is not forgetting that each of those million is a person. You’ll often see the last person get on the bus…and still the bus doesn’t move because as the driver was preparing to leave, he noticed someone running for his bus and he chose to wait.
For the most part, they are efficient and do their best to get people where they need to go. For the most part, they are kind and patient. They’ll greet you as you get on the bus and respond in kind as you wish them a good day. They’ll go that extra bit to explain where something is…
And sometimes, they go beyond…
In 2003, I wrote this:
Egged Prepares for Gulf II: Egged has trained 100 drivers to drive with gas masks and protective suits so that they can drive INTO an area where potentially bio/chem weapons have landed to evacuate wounded).
In 2008, I wrote about how a bus driver heard that a soldier had left his backpack on a bus. When he realized, he jumped on the next bus and explained to the driver what had happened. That driver radioed ahead and the second driver pulled to the side of the road and waited for them to catch up so the soldier could retrieve his backpack. (Even the Bus Drivers Love Them).
I also wrote another story in that post about how bus drivers in Israel sometimes do amazing things, like this:
When the bus driver realized that a former prime minister had boarded his bus, he insisted on driving the astonished leader to his doorstep, even though it was off the usual bus route. Embarrassed at the attention, the leader tried to argue with the bus driver, but the applause of the people on the bus made it clear that they agreed with the driver.
More recently, a bus driver was confronted with a crying a first grader who had missed his stop. He turned the bus around and took the boy home before resuming his trip.
So, having told of the amazing, I feel free to tell about the less than amazing. Sadly, the less than amazing is often more the norm and for this reason, I’ve decided to write this post.
This morning, Aliza and four of her friends went to school. A bus, the Egged 175 pulled into her stop at 10:15 – perfect timing to get the girls to school at 10:30 (they had a weekend event and so were given permission to come in late). The bus pulled in on time – the driver refused to let the girls get on the bus – and merely yelled at someone else to get out of the bus using the rear door.
He didn’t bother to explain – rather, he left five young girls upset on the side of the road, missing the only bus that would get them to school on time. I decided I would complain – and I have. I could write this to Egged, but they don’t want phone calls. They prefer we fax our complaints… and honestly, I doubt a call or a fax or an email will change anything. I don’t think if they will track down that driver or not.
I would have preferred the driver leave me standing on the side of the road, in the heat of the day, causing me to be late, than leave five girls standing there as he did. Perhaps there was a reason – perhaps they were sending out a new bus and he’d been ordered to end his trip at that point and not take on additional passengers.
All it would have taken was his opening the door and explaining this to the girls – that act of kindness, of patience, would have been the difference between their calmly waiting for another bus or finding an alternative, and the phone call I received from an upset child who was going to be late through no fault of her own.
Visit A Soldier’s Mother.Paula R. Stern