Hostages, Megabuses and Power Trips
Then, I looked at the guy who was sat three rows behind me with utter disbelief and asked “seriously? That can’t be the case, it would be extremely heartless and totally out of order if that were true” He gave me a bit of a smirk as my question was admission of my finely tuned eaves dropping ability.
“Oh ay” he replied in his very strong Geordie accent “I know, that’s why I sent ‘em an email as soon as I realised what the driver had done, it’s to’ally out of order, poor fella hasn’t even got his wallet and money and like” The more information he divulged about the incident, the more acrimonious I became…this was unbelievable!! Something must be done about this…but how? We have become hostages in here, in the middle of the motorway between stops…what could we do in this situation?
Anger will solve nothing, my mind started whirring, how could we help the guy that has been intentionally stranded by the bus driver, who in fact, could be accused of theft as he has driven off with the man’s personal belongings…his wallet an’ papers ‘an all as the kind Geordie man explained.
The Geordie guy who was sat behind the recipient of the treatment, and the Italian guy who was sat next to the poor fella, looked through the victim’s bag to see if they could find a phone number to call the guy and arrange something that may get him out of this pickle. Unfortunately there was no phone number, just an address and papers that indicated he was going for a job interview with the police. I felt even worse hearing that…I hope he gets to Middlesbrough before Monday!
So what actually happened? I hear you asking…
Well, we were on the Mega Bus from London to Newcastle via many stops where people would be dropped off and more passengers picked up. So the point is that if you are not getting off at the stops you can’t get off the bus…I get the reason for that because you have been ‘checked in’ at point of boarding and the driver can’t keep tabs on everyone that gets off at the stops…I get it. However, there must be a human element to this, if one passenger gets off…there must be a reasonable explanation for and if they have left all their belongings on the bus surely that is proof enough that they booked, paid for and boarded the bus legitimately. They might have been feeling travel sick, may have a health condition, may be feeling claustrophobic, a little unwell…anything!! In this particular instance the driver did not take the time to check in, no due care for his passenger…he just got annoyed , told the guy this was a non-stop service (although you could argue that on the technicality that there was more than one destination)
Why this blog? Well as a business owner myself, I believe that it is important to ensure that your customers have the best service experience possible…you want them to come back again don’t you? You want them to talk about your service in a good light, to refer and recommend you don’t you? But how do you do that when you employ others to carry out the tasks and can’t be everywhere at once?
The answer to that will have to come later if I can muster up enough useful reasoning around the topic, this is more a topic for someone who supports businesses, this is not really what my own business is about, I’m all about helping and working with individuals to be the best they can…and yes they could be a business owner. However, the point I would like to focus on is the complexity of human nature…how our environment, the amount of control and power can affect the way we behave towards those who are at our mercy.
As good ole ‘Abe’ would say:
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
What is it about a little bit of power that makes some people behave in a completely irrational and sometimes downright inhumane, uncivilised manner?
Firstly, I think it is our past experiences, we learn what we live…what we learn from those experiences depends on who we are internally and how resilient we are. If as a child you have been subjected to feeding someone else’s ego through being demeaned, bullied, treated unfairly, purely because they have been put in a position of power of any kind…then you have two choices
- Model that exact same behaviour when you have been given some amount of power yourself
- Do the exact opposite because you know how that treatment made you feel, you understand the negative impact of that type of behaviour and therefore show a certain degree of empathy
I do have to pop in the disclaimer that it’s not quite as simple and straight forward as that, human behaviour is a complex thing. It is worth noting that whatever you do in life, you usually have a choice of responses and a choice as to your behaviour in the given circumstance.
Which of the two choices do you think might be the easier option? Let’s look at them both:
- Doing what others did to you: When I talk about behaviours, habits, responses to situations, this is the easier option. It doesn’t take the effort of changing anything and creating new behaviours is hard work to start with. More importantly than that, you have to want it badly enough to even consider making the effort to change. I have talked a great deal about how sometimes people blame their past for their current behaviours and hence their current circumstances.
- Breaking the Cycle: This is the more difficult but more rewarding option because it takes energy to go against an ingrained habit, culture, tradition, or just going against what is seen as perfectly normal in your circle; whatever it is…it’s harder to step out of what feels like the norm to you. If you can do this…you break a cycle and you become more aware of your behaviour and others response to it. You are now more present, more mindful, because changing behaviours and habits takes more focus, time and consciousness. It takes a great deal of bravery too especially if you are trying to change behaviours that are deemed the norm in your family /friend circle, their noses may get out of joint and they may resent you for trying to change things…why would they do this? Well, again it could be a multitude of reasons.
One thing I am sure of is that your desire to change your behaviours and break the cycle is somehow seen as a criticism of those who have lived by what they consider to be the ‘norm’. It’s tough, I can’t lie, I’ve done it, been there, got the blasted t-shirt which got trashed during the struggles…nothing wrong with a bit of drama…but…I maintain that it was all worth it.
If that driver had just asked the passenger his reasons for breaking the hostage rule…maybe the whole situation would have been resolved in a more civil and pleasant way. It may have meant that the other passengers I spoke to and I, myself included; may have not resolved to NEVER use the service again.
This is an impulsive blog, based on a true story, I would love to hear your views.