The Bus Driver Loses It

Osmel Almaguer

HAVANA TIMES — The driver lost his composure and started ranting and raving at the passengers. He then cursed a few words under his breath that I couldn’t understand from where I was standing, but then the bus started moving again.

After only a few yards though, we came to an abrupt stop and all of us lurched forward violently. There were murmurs and protests, but everyone then acted like it had been a routine stop.

Yet the lurching was repeated. There was another even more violent slamming on of the brakes, and then another and another – seven in all. After the series of shocks, an elderly woman who was traveling with me had a bruise on her face. She had fallen into the metal railing in front of her.

For a moment I thought the driver would end up crashing or doing something else insane.

What had happened is that we had challenged the driver by not obeying his orders that he had growled at us seconds earlier. Though exceedingly rude, his claim was something that was right: if the back of the bus was empty, why didn’t the standing passengers move on back so those still at the bus stop could get in?

People were in their own worlds, with everyone bunched up near the front door making it hard for those who needed to get off at their stop. The punishment he was giving us was because of that. Seven slams on the brakes in which any of the passengers could have been injured, even seriously.

People protested a little. There was even talk of reporting the incident to the head of the bus terminal, but everyone knows that most complaints such as that never achieve the desired effect – and much less could any of us complain directly to the driver, since he had gained the reputation for resolving conflicts armed with a pipe or a wooden bat.

Almost as soon as the complaints planned by the passengers made contact with the air, they gave up on them as a waste of time.

At the next stop I got off and an idea immediately flashed in my mind. If we have the tools in our hands then we need to use them. So I decided to write down the number of the bus (route 27, vehicle number 5114) and I snapped a picture of it.