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Author Topic: Did I do Good or Bad?
TommySama
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So tonight was one of my friend's 21st birthday. We bar hopped around downtown for a few hours, and caught the bus home. Buddies got off at their stop, and my girlfriend and I continued on (bus was still packed full of people). Couple of cocky white boys got on, drunk.

I am sitting next to my girlfriend in the front, a black guy is passed out in front of us with his cell phone in his hand, next to a paraplegic. Cocky kid is standing between us, and he harassed the paraplegic because his wheelchair required 2 seats to be lifted for him to fit. Cocky kid then reached out and grabs the passed out man's phone and pockets it, laughing to his friends. Everybody saw, nobody said anything.

So I nudge the black guy and say, "hey man, you got your phone?" (hoping it just fell somewhere and I imagined the theft). He checked around his pockets until I finally say, "that guy took it" pointing at the cocky kid. He keeps looking, so I stood up, walked over to the kid, reached into his pocket where he put the stolen phone, retrieved it, and handed it back to its owner.

Cocky white kid is actually a total coward, and starts nervously asking the vicinity if we are in St. Paul yet.

Victim: "What the ****? Did you take my phone, man?"
Cockless kid: "Are we in St. paul? Whats this guy talking about?"
Victim: "You took my phone you mother ****er!" *he stands up* "I will kick you in your ****ing face!"
Coward: "Are we in St. Paul huh huh... whats going on?" *looks around for support from his spineless friends, gets none*
Victim: "I SAID DID YOU TAKE MY ****ING PHONE YOU PIECE OF ****?!"

At this point I get up, since I gave him the phone back and said, "don't worry about it man, you got the phone so just let it drop; its not worth what is about to happen."

The victim starts getting pissed, grabs the holding handles and kicked the coward in the face. At this point several other passengers break up the fight and separate them; Victim sits in front of me again.

Me: "man, get off at this stop, the bus driver is calling the cops."
Him: "Man he ****in' deserved it."
Me: "I know, but you will still get the assault when the police get here so ****ING GET OFF THE BUS!"

He ignored me. I suspected that I was potentially in for accessory at this point (suggesting he leave before the cops arrive), so I get off with my girlfriend and catch a cab that was conveniently nearby right as the police get to the bus.


So first of all: is it likely the cell phone owner will get assault for the kick? Will the yellow belly who took his phone get any charges? Would I have been an accessory to the crime by suggesting the man whose phone was stolen flee (after he kicked the thief)?

Second, did I do the right thing? NOBODY out of the 8-12 people who were watching him steal the phone said anything. And I tried to calm the guy down, but failed. So now I feel awful, because this guy might get a bull**** charge.

Third, I'm angry. What a jerk! Earlier this afternoon, GirlfriendSama and I were walking to get groceries and I found a little pack with a dollar bill and a library card, which we walked 6 blocks out of our way to give to the library in case its owner looked for it, and this trouser stain stole a man's cell phone out of his hands. What the **** is the matter with people?


I have certain emotional and empathetic limits because of my childhood, but it seems pretty clear to me that you have to say something when you witness theft. How can I be so ****ed up and be the only person out of over a dozen who actually spoke up? Maybe I'm the good guy and the rest of this country is full of assholes (actually, I'm sure of it now).

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seagull
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When I was starting college as a freshman, they had a special orientation for foreign students to explain to us how things work in the US. Here is one of the things they said that I will always remember:

quote:
If you are attacked (or if you witness a crime), the last thing you want to do is yell: "Help!", "Thief!", "Murder!" or "Rape!". People who hear you will run away from the scene to avoid getting involved. Instead what you should do (in all of the above cases) is yell "Fire!", that gets people to look for what is going on (both curiosity and self preservation). The perpetrators of the crime know that, they know that nobody will come to help you if you yell "Rape!" and that they can safely commit the crime even when you yell that. They also know that when you yell "Fire!" people will come out and see them committing the crime. The people who come out to see the "fire" that isn't there don't actually have to do anything, most criminals will run away as soon as you yell "Fire!".
Morally -- I think you did the right thing.
Practically -- it is hard to say. You had no way of knowing in advance that the victim would attack the cowardly thief so that part was not your fault.

[ November 22, 2009, 06:14 AM: Message edited by: seagull ]

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cherrypoptart
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You did the right thing. Advising someone not to wait around for the police in a hostile situation isn't wrong either. This isn't the scene of an accident. The police could take an hour to decide to get around to it and the situation could escalate even further in the mean time. But thanks for reminding me why I don't use public transportation. I'd almost forgotten.
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Pete at Home
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You did right. Advising him to leave before the police arrived shouldn't make you accessory; any competent defense attorney should be able to successfully argue that you simply used the arriving cops as a reason to get the guy away to avoid further violence.
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hobsen
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You tried, TommySama. The cocky kid did not need to be arrested for stealing the phone. The victim did not need to be arrested for assault. Just possibly the former will get the idea that it is a bad idea to steal things in front of witnesses, and the victim will get the idea that it is a bad idea to be passed out in public. And if not, assuming the victim was not seriously injured by the kick, trying to get the two of them away from one another was the right thing to do. If the victim failed to see it that way, you have no responsibility for his behavior.

Interfering physically with an real criminal committing a real crime could be a bad idea, as some who have done so have been knifed or shot for their pains. In that case yelling is probably safer than getting in a struggle with the thief. But in this case your instincts told you these were drunk kids pulling a nasty prank, and they would back down if someone older challenged them. Sure you could have been wrong, and the thief produced a weapon, but the chances were good you would get the victim's phone back. You did that much, whatever happened afterward. And it was a nice thing to do.

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asmalls4
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You did do a good thing Tommy. Twice. [Smile]
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RickyB
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"So first of all: is it likely the cell phone owner will get assault for the kick?"

Totally. It was total retaliation, even if justified. He already had his phone back.

You did way good. Proud of you, bro.

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kenmeer livermaile
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I disagree with the rape/fire advice. There are many brave people among us. I think we often surprise ourselves when we realize that person is oneself.

The logic of yelling fire! falls on its other assumption: that people are apathetic cowards. Once persons seeking fire see a rape, then their alleged apathetic cowardice should cause them to avoid getting involved.

I fear canardism more than cowardism.

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kenmeer livermaile
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And of course TommySam did good. TommySam is AWESOME.
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kenmeer livermaile
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And I'm glad the dude went off on the cocky kid. Some mules you have to talk to from the hind end with a stick.

Crucial event: "The victim starts getting pissed, grabs the holding handles and kicked the coward in the face. At this point several other passengers break up the fight and separate them; Victim sits in front of me again."

We the people often handle things pretty well.

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Pete at Home
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It takes a special kind of bravery to do the right thing while knowing that those you helped won't appreciate it, and that you might even be charged by some clueless cop. Glad that your good deed went relatively unpunished, and hope that your inconvenience in de-boarding the bus early doesn't scare you off your current path.

"How can I be so ****ed up and be the only person out of over a dozen who actually spoke up?"

I agree with Kenmeer as to the crucial event, but not completely as to his conclusion:

quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
Crucial event: "The victim starts getting pissed, grabs the holding handles and kicked the coward in the face. At this point several other passengers break up the fight and separate them; Victim sits in front of me again."

We the people often handle things pretty well.

I would say rather that we the people often handle things pretty well, once someone with real balls stands up first and sets the example. You're the man this time.
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Colin JM0397
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Thinking of an old Dennis Leary bit.

One thing TS forgot to tell us: When in the cab, he made the GF ride in front because his balls took up the entire back seat.

Good job, and yes there is hope for the world.

In hindsight, you could have taken the phone back and then nudged the passed out dude and told him he had dropped it. OTOH, glad the dumb punk-ass got kicked in the face. That is poetic justice. He should have known to leave, but probably felt justified.

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TommySama
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LOL, thanks guys...

I don't think it required too much balls. I just told the guy his phone was gone and pointed at the guy who stole it. He kept denying it (shaky voice, no eye contact, totally pathetic. It was the response I'd have given after getting caught smashing rosebushes when I was a fifth grader), so I walked over and pulled the stolen phone out of the pocket I saw him put it in, and returned it. After that he lost his temper, and I feel bad that he is most likely sitting in a jail cell right now.

But the kick to the face was awesome.

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scifibum
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Good for you Tommy.
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kenmeer livermaile
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"But the kick to the face was awesome."

The little **** DID steal his cellphone.

While physical violence is a higher offense than stealing mere property, there's nothing like an ass-whupping to teach you not to do it again.

I know from experience. The ass-whupping was deferred but just knowing the guy was willing to really caught my attention and provided powerful dissuasion against further such behavior on my part.

And bus ride ninjaisms using passenger poles rock.

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stayne
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Personally, I applaud your honesty, and furthermore think the guy who kicked the thief in the face was justified.

(edited for spelling)

[ November 22, 2009, 04:56 PM: Message edited by: stayne ]

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TommySama
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"In hindsight, you could have taken the phone back and then nudged the passed out dude and told him he had dropped it."

I will do this in the future, if the occasion arises. The idiot I helped will probably lose a lot more if he got charges pressed against him ($300 phone versus possible prison time + ridiculous fine).

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scifibum
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Just hope the phone thief tries to salvage a shred of macho by saying he's not interesting in pressing charges. I have no idea if that carries legal weight but it might carry enough weight with the officers who have to deal with the hassle.
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Kuato
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Tommy, you should just follow-up with the police. Find out if an arrest matching your situation was made. If so, because you left and the others were spineless there would be two possibilities that couldn't have arisen if you'd stayed:

1. One man who has a faceprint who can say whatever he wants, and a man who now has his phone back and no visible reason for the provocation and it is a case of he said/he said.

2. One man who has a faceprint and a bunch of spineless friends who corroborate a story that he was attacked without provocation at all, no matter what the kicker-man says.

You ought to follow up a little.

[ November 22, 2009, 07:38 PM: Message edited by: Kuato ]

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cherrypoptart
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I had actually thought of that but didn't want to burden poor Tommy with the possibility, but that is definitely correct. It couldn't hurt the original victim to have someone back up the story that the there was provocation.

In all of my dealings with police though, they seem to not want to do anything much about something like this. But there are always exceptions I suppose, and we often see them in the news, like the Wal-mart lady who cut in line and the 10 year old girl who got tasered.

One comment I was going to make originally but then deleted but now am thinking I'll put back in just as an observation is how interesting it is that so often the least little thing can blow up to having consequences all out of proportion to what started it. I guess it's already got a name: the butterfly effect.

So as you note Kuato, if this guy has anger management issues and maybe has had some run-ins with the law before, this could be some sort of third strike that really gets him into deep, hot water. You never know. And it may just take a little help, an honest word, to get him out of it.

I was also going make an observation about the possible cruel little ironies of life if the guy ends up going to jail for kicking the thief, it might have been better for him just to have his phone stolen. I can see how that would really perturb someone though. Phones are lifelines nowadays.

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seagull
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quote:
I disagree with the rape/fire advice.
Me too. But it is still important to realize just how prevalent that attitude is in some parts of this country.

I think that telling him to get off the bus was probably good advice even if he did not listen to it.

And just to clarify, my earlier "hard to say" referred to the "$300 phone versus possible prison time + ridiculous fine" question which will remain unresolved unless you follow Kuato's advice or something along the same lines.

If you are still concerned about being considered an accessory to a crime you may want to keep quiet about your active part in what happened. You said that the bus was packed full of people, as far as the police knows, you could be one of the witnesses who just stood by.

Once you know what actually happened after you left, you'll be in a better position to figure out what you want to do next.

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Michelle
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Tommy ~ Live and learn, man. I like that you are questioning if you were doing the right thing, so let me point out where I think you went wrong.


Though your actions were very admirable, they also set up a series of events that could have endangered everyone on the bus.

You failed to follow a proper protocol of reporting what to whom.

You needed to quietly inform the bus driver of the theft and then let it go. The bus driver is responsible for the safety and well being of everyone on the bus.

So in short, your impulsion to act put you in a place of taking control for no other valid reason except maybe -- you thought of it first.

Next time hand over the control to the person on the scene who is really in charge.

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Gaoics79
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I think Tommy did the right thing on all counts. If this guy felt the need to take revenge and administer a beating, even though he already got his phone back, then he deserves whatever he gets. **** him.
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KE
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I hope you were careful and know how to handle yourself, Tommy? Walking over and taking the phone was the right thing to do, and what I would have done, but a good way to get stabbed if you're not really good at hand to hand.

Either way I'm proud of you. But like in boxing; Protect yourself at all times.

KE

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KE
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quote:
The cocky kid did not need to be arrested for stealing the phone.
Just curious, why?

KE

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TommySama
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Well I went through the arrest record in Hennepin county during the time of the incident and found nothing, so I will try some more investigation later, perhaps. I don't think it would matter much. There were at least a dozen other people in the immediate vicinity who saw the entire event, including security cameras that are installed in all city buses.

KE, the kid was cross-eyed with fear over being called out, and was practically visibly shaking. I thought he might push me away when I grabbed the phone back, but he just sat there. Extremely pathetic.

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KE
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Okay, I'm just saying be careful. A mouse will fight back if it feels it is cornered. And you'll hardly ever run into a mouse carrying a knife, much less a Glock. [Smile]

[ November 22, 2009, 11:18 PM: Message edited by: KE ]

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Kuato
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Yep. Ditto that, Tommy. There is no question you did Good.
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Gaoics79
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quote:
Well I went through the arrest record in Hennepin county during the time of the incident and found nothing, so I will try some more investigation later, perhaps. I don't think it would matter much. There were at least a dozen other people in the immediate vicinity who saw the entire event, including security cameras that are installed in all city buses.

KE, the kid was cross-eyed with fear over being called out, and was practically visibly shaking. I thought he might push me away when I grabbed the phone back, but he just sat there. Extremely pathetic.

I'd be careful about getting involved in these kinds of altercations, even though in this case you were certainly in the right. Even a cowardly punk can kill you with a gun or even a knife.

Early Sunday morning a kid got shot on the corner of my street. The papers mentioned that witnesses saw some kind of altercation between a group of kids dressed like skaters. I think I know this group, as I've seen them skating around the alley behind my building.

No idea why the kid was shot, but it wouldn't surprise me if it happened for a reason not much more significant than a stolen cellphone.

Watch yourself. Bravery is all fine and good until it gets you shot.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"A mouse will fight back if it feels it is cornered. And you'll hardly ever run into a mouse carrying a knife, much less a Glock."

Is true. Also true that typically, the cornered mouse fights when it feels it is in the right. For that mouse to have come out swinging the face-kicker would have had to have been allowed to keep pounding. Some people hit a survival switch when they're having their ass kicked and re-kicked and re-kicked, and yeah, I agree with KE here: that survival switch can suddenly **** you up so bad you won't know what hit you.

I been there.

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kenmeer livermaile
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P.S. Cocky kid *earned* that face kick when he hassled the paraplegic, even though face-kicker probably wasn't aware of it.

Dirty little ****er. He's lucky he didn't get his foot stomped until he'd be a cripple for life himself.

Moral: cross the line, expect to get crossed.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Next time hand over the control to the person on the scene who is really in charge."

This assumes the bus driver is really capable of dealing with the situation. Title does not itself confer ability.

The cocky kid did the initial endangering by publicly and wantonly violating the essential social contract we like to call that 'peace' the law strives to maintain.

Tommy signed no contract entering that bus. For all we know Tommy knew the bus driver saw the theft and harassment and didn't react as his title would require.

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The Drake
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Hindsight always works great, but I doubt I'd think of this "on the spot"...

What if Tommy called the cops directly, never mind the bus driver? State that you witnessed a theft on the bus, and the guy who committed the theft is still there and the victim is unaware of it.

Cops board the bus with smart aleck still possessing stolen material. Guy wakes up, becomes angry about the theft, but cops are there already so he doesn't assault anyone. Phone is returned, asswhole doesn't get the face-kicking he deserves, but is arrested/cited.

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whitefire
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If I'd been there, I think I would have done the same thing, and ended up feeling badly about it too.
I'd feel bad because I would have imagined that the guy who had his phone taken would have been cool about it, and told the kid to get out of his face. Maybe the punk wouldn't have scampered off the buss while the passengers cheered (which would have been my fantasy as some kind of folk hero vigilante), but I certainly wouldn't have expected a beat down.
Its possible even the guy who's phone was taken was a jerk who never had any self control and was in and out of of jail.
Maybe he was neither of those guys, cool or hot tempered.
You acted well - the guy got his phone back thanks to your action. The other 2 acted very badly, though. You don't deserve any more of the blame for the guy getting kicked in the face as for the phone being stolen in the first place.

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by TommySama:
... did I do the right thing?

Sure, you did the right thing making sure a crime was identified and stopped. As for anyone getting in trouble, I don't think so. I think the most a cop would do is laugh. If the thief wants to press charges, the victim will too. Or they an both drop it and learn their lesson. You aren't going to get in any trouble.

But I don't know how smart that was, walking up and putting your hand in some guys pockets. That is a high risk maneuver. Once you get the point you go hands on with someone engaged in criminal activity, anything can happen next.

What if he was not so cowardly? When your hand was rummaging (i.e trapped) in his pocket, he and his buddy could have fought back while you were limited in movement and since you put hands on first they could conceivably claim self defense (yes, it's bull**** but putting your hands on somebody can be assault and they have the right to defend themselves). Double plus bad if he or his buddy was armed with a knife or something and you're not. At any rate, a fight on a moving bus just screams for someone getting hurt - maybe you.

What if he was a drug addict and had a needle in his pocket and you got stuck? It happens.

Getting off the bus and getting the hell out of there was a smart move and probably saved you some time but I can't see you getting into any trouble over it.

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TommySama
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That is probably true, G2. I feel like I had a pretty good read of the situation: privileged kid who had never gotten his ass kicked or humiliated for his stupid behavior. He had 3 friends, and they all looked embarrassed. I do carry a 4 inch switchblade, which I didn't even consider at the time. That is for worst case scenarios like somebody attacking my girlfriend.


"What if Tommy called the cops directly, never mind the bus driver? State that you witnessed a theft on the bus, and the guy who committed the theft is still there and the victim is unaware of it."

I find the idea of alerting the 'authorities' for something I could easily accomplish distasteful, but I see what you guys are getting at. If I ever have to do it again I will consider this (I had hoped the kid would just hand back the phone when confronted, but he just blathered like an idiot).

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Michelle
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quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
"Next time hand over the control to the person on the scene who is really in charge."

This assumes the bus driver is really capable of dealing with the situation. Title does not itself confer ability.

The cocky kid did the initial endangering by publicly and wantonly violating the essential social contract we like to call that 'peace' the law strives to maintain.

Tommy signed no contract entering that bus. For all we know Tommy knew the bus driver saw the theft and harassment and didn't react as his title would require.

I beg to differ. It's easy from a passenger's POV to dismiss a driver as a necessary prop, but the truth is, the driver is in charge. It's the driver's CDL license that is on the line, the safety of 40 plus passengers are his alone, and when the insurance company wants answers, they won't be looking for Tommy to explain what he could have done differently. Most city bus driver's have training to deal with emergencies, as well as unruly passengers. They have an established protocol.

It's normal human nature to want to remain in control, but common sense and logic sometimes dictates to us to delegate authority. In this case, just recognizing the authority early on, could have helped.

[ November 24, 2009, 10:49 AM: Message edited by: Michelle ]

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The Drake
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At least some city bus drivers can barely refrain from texting their friends while in charge of the safety of their 40 plus passengers.

Watch as this one crashes while texting

Poke around a little, these aren't really the safest bet when it comes to defusing a tricky situation.

For those of you who wonder why city bus drivers are so bored that they text message while driving, or why they are so surly, simply try to play City Bus Simulator 2010 (New York)

"Transformed is the famous bus line M42 which goes from Hudson River to East River on 42nd street, one of the most known streets of New York City. You drive the typical Nova RTS T 80-260 bus, presented as a very detailed and true to the original 3D model. The original timetable and numerous exciting tasks challenge your skills as a bus driver."

Among bus features:
# Animated wipers
# Animated wheelchair lift
# Kneeling

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scifibum
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quote:
"Transformed is the famous bus line M42 which goes from Hudson River to East River on 42nd street, one of the most known streets of New York City. You drive the typical Nova RTS T 80-260 bus, presented as a very detailed and true to the original 3D model. The original timetable and numerous exciting tasks challenge your skills as a bus driver."

Among bus features:
# Animated wipers
# Animated wheelchair lift
# Kneeling

It's the Halo-killer!
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Michelle
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Drake ~ Not all bus drivers are going to be responsible (like your text message guy) but that doesn't disqualify my point. Tommy could have informed the driver about the theft, and the driver may have gone on to handled the situation badly, but Tommy, though maybe disappointed, could have walked away with a clear conscience that he did the right thing.

I drove a tour bus for years. Dealing with crisis, (like evacuating a bus engulfed in flames) is part of the job. Safety training is routine and repeated frequently. In fact we had daily, morning meetings, prior to dispatching around the city, to discuss safety-related concerns. You can dismiss the job as a 'no-brainer', but that's just ignorance talking.

Thankfully, for all those people, I took my job seriously.

*beams over safety awards*

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