On Wednesday, June 8, I boarded a Greyhound bus from Baltimore to Pittsburgh.
Preface: I was making a trip from New Jersey by way of Baltimore, but due to a bus delay instead of having a three-hour layover it became a six-hour layover at the Baltimore bus terminal. When our bus arrived everyone was tired and cranky, including the bus driver.
As per the norm, when they finally called us to get in line I walked (using my walker) to the front of the line to self-identify as being disabled and needing help boarding the bus. Before I could even open my mouth the driver started yelling at me for cutting in front of the line. He walked me personally out to bus and told me to get a seat in the second row, then walked back to the terminal without doing anything about getting my walker or bags onto the bus. So I stood there and waited, and waited, and waited, while the rest of the passengers boarded.
When the driver came out he angrily asked why I hadn’t gotten on, to which I responded that I needed help getting my things on the bus and that my walker needed to be loaded in a certain way so the hinges wouldn’t jam (again). He told me to just get on board.
Once aboard the bus, I found that the second row was taken by people, but the first two rows, the official ADA seats complete with little wheelchair symbols sewn on the headrests, were filled up with the driver’s suitcases. I turned and asked the driver if he could move one of his bags so I could sit there. He started screaming at me. Literally screaming. He tried to get an 80-year-old woman to move from the second row so I could sit there. I said no, that was inappropriate, and that by law the ADA seats were there… for ME. He started arguing but I refused to move to a different seat.
The driver got off the bus for a moment, so I quickly grabbed my phone and started calling Greyhound customer service. Unfortunately there was a hold and during that time the driver got back on the bus and went ballistic about me being on the phone the whole drive. I told him that I had no intention of that, and that I was on the phone trying to call his supervisor. He told me his supervisors wouldn’t do anything, and that I was a troubled soul for trying to sit in one of the front seats. That’s when I turned on the camera on my phone.
Trigger Warning: Dude being an angry asshole. You’ve been warned.
He then got off the bus and went into the bus station to grab a supervisor and a security guard to try to kick me off the bus.
When the supervisor got on the bus, she talked to (a very calm) me to ascertain what was going on. She then got off the bus… and started yelling at the driver. He was angry, but realized that the supervisor wasn’t going to kick me off. In what I suspect was a play to at least maintain some semblance of power in the situation he insisted I delete the video, which I allowed the security guard to watch me do, and then he got on the bus and started driving with the instructions that I not use my phone during the trip because the light could blind him from driving safely.
You know how iPhones have that wonderful Recently Deleted feature that allows you to restore things you’ve put in the trash in the last 30 days? Yeah. It’s a wonderful thing.
I dimmed my phone as much as possible, angled it away from the window, and posted the video to Facebook and to YouTube with the following text:
BUS DRIVER IS TRYING TO THROW ME OFF THE BUS FOR WANTING TO SIT IN THE ADA SEAT INSTEAD OF HIM PUTTING HIS SUITCASE THERE. HE TOLD ME THAT I AM NOT DISABLED. I TRIED TO CALL GREYHOUND BUT HE FREAKED OUT ABOUT ME BEING ON THE PHONE THE WHOLE TIME. THEN HE TRIED TO GET ME TAKEN OFF THE BUS, BUT THE SUPERVISOR AND SECURITY GUARD LISTENED TO ME AND TOLD HIM TO LET ME STAY ON. NOW HE'S INSIDE TELLING THEM HE WON'T DRIVE WITH ME ON IT. I PROMISED NOT TO TALK ANYMORE AND DELETE THE VIDEO I TOOK, BUT I'VE SINCE RESTORED THE VIDEO AND AM UPLOADING IT TO YOUTUBE. BUS NUMBER IS [redacted].
WHILE I WAS TYPING THIS HE CAME BACK AND WE'RE NOW ON OUR WAY, BUT ANYONE WHO WANTS TO CALL GREYHOUND AND MAKE A REPORT FOR ME MAY DO SO SINCE I SAID I WOULDN'T MAKE ANY CALLS. BUS [redacted] THAT WAS SCHEDULED TO DEPART 6/8/16 FROM BALTIMORE TO PITTSBURGH AT 6:06, ACTUALLY DEPARTING AT 9:15 PM.
#Greyhound #AmericansWithDisabilitiesAct #CivilRights
P.S. I use a walker, with a cane to actually get on and off the bus. Trust me, he knew I'm disabled.
My god, my friends are awesome. Between a bunch of my own friends and then a bunch of people on my MS group on Facebook, Greyhound got enough calls to complain that the Vice President of Customer Relations for all of Greyhound was contacted and wound up seeing the video.
By the time I made it to Pittsburgh, there was a supervisor (Mr. Wade) and a security guard waiting at the terminal… to ensure my safety from the driver. Mr. Wade, who I have decided is one of the sweetest people on the face of the planet and who has the most amazing customer service skills of anyone I’ve ever met, sat with me and helped me calm down. I wrote out a big long report and was given a refund for the trip, along with hugs and support. Seriously, Mr. Wade is the best.
Since then I’ve gotten a lot of support, including a letter of apology from the regional Vice President of Greyhound, and the driver is no longer working with the company.
The moral of this story is: Being disabled does not mean you are a second class citizen. Disability Rights Are A Civil Right. If someone is coming down on you and trying to short change you because they perceive you as being weak because you are disabled… don’t let them! Stand up for yourself and your right to be treated as a human being. Yes, some people will be annoyed at you for taking up some of their precious time, but ignore that. You are worthy of being treated well. You are strong. You are powerful. You can make the world change.