I had a little incident while driving past the Old South Devon College site yesterday. Both participants, me and a gent in his seventies, ended up a little angry and slightly baffled.
What happened was this, I came round the bend (OK, OK, I know, been there, got the tee shirt) at Torr Station and 200 yards ahead there was this person standing on the island in the middle of the road. He saw me and walked briskly across the road to the pavement on my left. Now I know there is a bus stop there but I had also noted that there was no one at the stop; so I didn’t slow down. There was no danger I would run the pedestrian over, he was too far away. As he crossed, he looked at me to make sure I wasn’t going to remodel the front of the bus with a person shaped indentation, which I wasn’t, and carried on walking. When he reached the pavement he turned clockwise so he had his back to me for a second or so. Then, as I drew level with him he looked at me with a surprised look on his face. Why hadn’t I stopped? Surely it was obvious he wanted the bus. Why else would he have crossed the road? Aren’t all bus drivers uncaring bastards? He was definitely angry and I expect a bit baffled.
Me too. I’m baffled because compared with the energy expended crossing the road, putting a hand out is so slight. So why not do it? Angry because he has now added him self to the group of people who think bus drivers find it hard to sleep at night unless we drink half a gallon of Horlicks just before going to bed.
Does he walk in a pub and stand at the bar and expect the bar person to know what he wants to drink. Well if he goes in the same pub all the time and it is the same bar person all the time then probably. Yes; that’s probably it, he got a bus yesterday and as all buses look the same he expects it will recognise him. No, sorry mate buses don’t work like that. Anyway I’ve never seen him before and I am sorry to say that hundreds of people cross the road in front of me (some I think with suicide on their minds but that’s an other story) and less than 1% want to catch the bus. I am not stopping on a one in one hundred chance that he wants the bus.
I still can not get used to the idea that people think we are mind readers. We are not; we need some sort of sign and running or walking towards a bus stop is NOT a sign that you want the bus to stop. You would be amazed how many people just continue past the stop and look at the poor bus driver thinking, “What this idiot stopped for. I don‘t want the bus.”
Putting your hand out is a universal sign recognised by bus drivers through out the whole know cosmos. I have travelled on buses in 3 continents and I have managed to get buses to stop by sticking my hand out in all of them and I am sure that if I ever get to Africa, America, Antarctica and the Planet Zog and I stick it out the oncoming bus will stop. Prehaps not Antarctica, I’m not sure if they have buses there. Maybe some one can tell me if they do. Likewise Planet Zog.