Thursday, October 22, 2009

I am not a number... I am a polite (mostly) commuter!

I have spoken many times of the state of mind that employees get to when they may have been at a job for too long. Rule-mongers. When the rules become more important than the clients/customers, it's time to take a break.

In retail years ago, I would pull an employee off the floor after witnessing them argue with a customer over a small item. "But he doesn't have a receipt" they would say. If the customer doesn't back down right away, or approaches you NICELY, and POLITELY, and it was a relatively small request, just go ahead and do it. In the case of the belligerent customer, it's just not worth your time, blood pressure, and stomach lining.

The other night while riding the LIRR, a rider got on with a bike somewhere after Penn Station. Now, I learned two important things about this: 1. You are not allowed to have a bike on a PEAK train, and 2. This makes perfect sense. Especially if you've ever witnessed how crowded these trains get.

The rider was told by the conductor that he needed to get off at the next stop. Then the rider apologized, and said that he didn't realize it was a problem, and only needed to go one more stop to be home. The conductor said "No. You have to get off at the next stop and wait for the next off-peak train." "But, my stop is only a few minutes past this stop." "I'm sorry sir. Those are the R U L E S."

There's that word. Now, I would have cut the conductor some slack if the presence of the bike was causing an issue, but about two-thirds of the train had already emptied out. What difference to the conductor would it have made if he let the rider stay for another few minutes? None, and he would have left an impression on the rider that someone recognizes that he's more than a ticket holder. He's a person.

I voiced this to the conductor, and tried to remind him that we aren't cattle being herded. I found myself getting far more upset than I should have. Oh, well.... I sign of MY AGE I guess. I told the conductor he was being a jerk, and the rider thanked me for trying. I would guess by the conductor's appearance and manner, that he had been doing this for MANY years. Time to take a break my friend. Maybe you can retire on that bogus disability plan that so many LIRR employees take advantage of.

Now get out of my way before I hit you with my umbrella!

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