The King’s Cross and the bus driver

2 Apr
Everyone boarded the bus. It was quiet. There was a hum of chatter and we sat down in our seats. A young woman wearing a scarf on her head manoeuvred her small child lying in a pushchair into the requisite place. She spoke a foreign language to her child and then on the phone. An elderly white man sitting a couple of seats from her shouted and pointed his finger: “Oi! Not in this country you don’t! In this country you speak English! I fought for my country and not for people like you! If you want to speak in your own language, get back to your own land!”
The young woman apologised in a quiet voice “I’m sorry”.
There was an embarrassing silence all round.
A broad. tall chap had attempted to intervene and it created a ripple of whispers down the bus. Someone called for the bus driver to do something, which he did. He called out to the man:
“Stop that kind of talk! If you want to speak like that, get off my bus. You’re more than welcome to talk how you want but not on my bus!”
The elderly man responded with a mutter under his breath. I felt my insides churn, the heat rising within me. Do I say something or just let it lie? Before I could decide, the bus driver, who was Asian, stopped the bus and walked over to the man, who said “I fought for the King’s Cross!”
To which the bus driver replied “I don’t care if you fought for the King’s Cross or the Queen’s Country. On MY bus, you don’t talk like THAT!” “Okay, you’ve made your point, but I -” said the elderly man who was interrupted mid-speech by the driver, who continued with “Everyone in this country has a Right to live here and I will not have you abusing my passengers. I will not have you being a bully or bullying my passengers. You are a bully and if you continue, I will stop the bus again and you will have to get off.” The driver got back into his seat and for the rest of the journey, there followed a very uncomfortable air of tension, the passengers squirmed with silent indignation and the poor foreign woman looked flushed, clearly upset and distressed.
Prejudice had reared it’s ugly head and I wanted to reach out to the woman and child, apologise for what she had been subjected to, an unwarranted verbal attack on her being.
I wanted to congratulate the bus driver for his, whether rightfully or wrongfully, intervention.
I looked at the elderly passenger and felt sorry for him…
Now, tell me, how would you feel? What would you do?
The Learned Kat

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