The following is an email a guy at work sent to someone in my department who said I could print it here if I made sure I put his name on it. So, this is a copy of the letter Adam Heskett wrote to AATA recently. I hear he is going to try to take the bus tonight. I'll have my fingers crossed for him. I know from personal experience that having a bus pass one by is really frustrating. I have been reduced to tears when it has happened to me which thankfully hasnt been for several years. And to be fair, even though it has happened to me with AATA, it hasnt happened nearly as often as it used to happen when I was a regular user of Detroit Dept of Transportation busses back in the day.
Last night, after a very long day of school and work, I was waiting to go home to Ypsilanti at the #6 bus stop on Ellsworth, right before Varsity. I get about three hours a night to spend with my family before I have to go to bed, and I was looking forward to doing so. After all, the joylessness of class and work needs to be balanced out by something positive; otherwise one’s day becomes clouded by anger and frustration.
When I saw the comforting pattern of lights that frame the front of the AATA bus, which portends the imminent arrival of a warm seat on which to rest my cold and weary bones, I felt very relieved that my day was finally at an end.
So I stand, in front of the bus stop sign, with dollar in hand, as I watch the bus continue past me, through the intersection, and down the road.
By the time the bus was out of sight, I had used the very last of my energy by running, waving my arms, gesticulating wildly, and shouting myself hoarse with a string of profanities that would make a sailor slap me. If I were an adrenaline junkie, I might have enjoyed such an exhilarating experience. Unfortunately, I am not an adrenaline junkie and I found it quite humiliating and degrading.
I will spare you the details of the rest of my evening, as I searched for an alternative to waiting an hour for the next bus, which may or may not have stopped for me. I won’t tell you about the cold walk back to the office, nor will I detail the interaction with the security guard while I begged to use the phone. I won’t bore you with the story of how I called the AATA customer service and main lines and didn’t even get an answer or voice mail. But I must say that I was very grateful that I didn’t have to use a payphone, simply because the only money in my pocket was twenty cents plus the dollar that I saved by not taking the bus. Twenty cents does not go very far when you are trying to track down someone who has nothing better to do at 8:00 PM than to come pick my @$$ up.
Now here’s the thing: I am not one who is in the habit of complaining. If I was, I would have complained about this the first time it happened. The last time this happened was last Wednesday, which happened to be the last time I had to take the bus home after working until 7:00. The first time, I thought it was a fluke, a mere mistake. Perhaps the driver just didn’t look over at the sign and see me standing there. After all, I’m used to the AATA bus system working in a less-than-perfect fashion. I am quite tolerant of late busses that I have to wait for, early busses that I miss, and the occasional bus that smells of urine. But this happened twice in a row and now I’m not sure that the work schedule that I so carefully negotiated with my manager will be possible, as I cannot guarantee that I will have a ride home. If sarcasm could come through clearly in an email, I would tell you want an awesome and fantastic situation I have been thrust into.
I have a few ideas that may fix this problem:
1.) I get a stuffed dummy and bring it to work with me. When it is clear that the bus is not going to stop, I throw the dummy in front of the bus. This would hopefully cause the bus to stop so I can safely board. However, such course of action does not guarantee the safety of anyone who might be unlucky enough to be anywhere around the area.
2.) I can get a rock. They are cheap and plentiful. When the bus fails to slow down, I can hurl it at the bus and just hope it bounces off the metal hull and not smash a window. This would grab the driver’s attention and he/she would hopefully stop to see what they hit. Of course, unforeseen consequences of a solid projectile being thrown into a busy street might prove disastrous, seeing as that my aim sucks.
3.) Signal flares. Of course, this may be cost prohibitive to me and the driver may read it as a warning to stay away as opposed to a signal to stop.
4.) Flashlight. Because shining a light into the eyes of a driver is a great idea.
5.) Someone can install a light above the sign located on Ellsworth, right before Varsity, going toward Ypsilanti. Not only can one entertain oneself with shadow puppets while waiting for the bus, but there would be an added bonus: A bus driver can easily see if someone is standing right in front of the sign.
6.) Drivers can be trained to look.
I do not know how the AATA can get my hours of wasted time back for me, but what I do ask is that there is some way that I can be assured that I can indeed take the bus home after the sun has gone down. I don’t have much of a choice. I have to work this schedule in order to finish my education and feed my family. I have been a resident of Ypsilanti for nine years, and I have depended on the AATA to get me to and from work many times. The service, while not perfect, has always been reliable, until now. I have always encouraged my friends to take the bus, but now I may be more inclined to tell them not to risk it and spring for a taxi.
Please respond to this email. I have to take the bus home tomorrow night and I need to know whether I should pack some signal flares or not.
I thank you for your time. -Adam Heskett