My Chauffeurs

It is an endearing characteristic of the city of Perth, Western Australia, where I live, that most passengers on public transport buses call “Thank You” to the drivers as they exit.
People of all ages and all ethnic and social backgrounds do it, in a genuine expression of appreciation for the service.
On one journey into the city centre this week I heard it from elderly Italian, Greek and Yugoslav ladies, clutching empty shopping bags, setting off in search of bargains.
I heard it from groups of South East Asian students as they alighted near the English language college, and somehow it seemed that they cherished the opportunity to practice in public.
I heard it from a svelte young Persian woman, scarved in sheer, chic shades of peacock purple and green, when the bus stopped outside the business school.
And I heard it from a large group of high school kids from many backgrounds, the beep of the electronic ticket-tagger alternating with their tuneful calls.
The only passenger demographic I did not hear call “Thank You” to the driver was the middle-aged white males; they were obviously too stressed or too embarrassed to speak aloud. Or perhaps they just didn’t care? Perhaps they didn’t notice the quality of the public transport system?
While I sat on a soft, plush fabric seat and read my book, the driver took me home. I could zone out, ignore the peak-hour traffic stress, as she piloted the well-sprung bus smoothly onward.
“Thank You!” this middle-aged white male called, as I exited.
amberdextrous amberdextrous
51-55, M
7 Responses Aug 17, 2011

Melbourne comuters are pretty polite, I find. On a packed tram, I, another teacher, two parents and 23 children squashed into the standing room only and the driver called out,"Where exactly are you all going?" and dropped us off exactly where we wanted to go.

Oh! That's funny! I was just thinking this on my way home this evening. My Toronto transit boys and I help each other through the commute. We greet each other by name, we share the events of our days, we share a smile and laugh together at the bad drivers in cars. Most of our transit riders are also appreciative of the service they're receiving and express as much as they exit the vehicles.<br />
After having been a 911 Operator for a while, I can honestly say that Toronto transit operators have one of the most stressful jobs out there. I couldn't deal with 1/10 of what they have to put up with. Of course there is more than one sourpuss in the mix but, meh, the same can be said of some people here on EP.<br />
As I was born and raised in Toronto, I've been riding the transit for my whole life. There are even a couple of them that must have started their jobs when I was I just a kid and they're still around. It's great to celebrate their upcoming retirement with them.<br />
A- Thanks for sharing your day with us! <br />
(p.s. Nice to be riding in a vehicle with windows that close, huh? LOLOL)

You are right, of course, Lilt. It is a cultural thing. My city is a sunshiny kind of place, and I think the population mostly reflects this. The sun has burned its way into our culture.<br />
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Sometimes the consequences of a cultural faux pas can be even worse than a sore ***.

Everyone should be thankful for good service. Period.<br />
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But sometimes culture gets in the way, Dex. When I moved from the North to the South several years ago, there were some huge adjustments. "No Sir," and "Yes, Ma'am" were a common part of daily conversation in the South, expected. If you had said "Yes, Maam" in Chicago, you were a smart-*** and would probably get that smart-*** kicked. In the South, you can get your *** kicked for NOT saying it.<br />
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I'm soooo confused.

How cool is that, TresHombre? What a great level of service.<br />
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Thank You, bro! I hope You have a good day, too!

Thank You, clarkee. I am so pleased to read that Hamilton also has an appreciative population. Maybe it is a Big City thing, the defensiveness of which You write? Perth is more like a huge country town, with nearly two million people. But if You were to say Thank You to a bus driver in Sydney or Melbourne, they would likely think You were eccentric, at the very least.

this is such a cute story. in hamilton we have the same!!! i found it very refreshing after living in toronto where the transit drivers are quite defensive and fearful of the public.

didnt mean to dis all toronto transit boys and girls. a lot of them do also discuss their retirement plans openly with each other on a public bus.