Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Listening skills

This is common sense, but I really wish people would pay attention when something is being said to them. There is nothing worse than an unnecessary delay or chaos simply because people cannot follow instructions (as evidenced by my previous blog entry).

One of the common things bus drivers do is tell people at the bus stop to wait while a passenger in a wheelchair gets off. I have seen so many people who have normal English skills not understand the instructions and just stand there staring blankly.

Sometimes when the bus is running behind schedule and a passenger in a wheelchair has to get on, the bus driver instructs the other passengers (those who do not have disabilities or mobility problems) to enter through the back door; if they need to use the farebox, it can wait until later. However, it seems that when the driver makes this command, only half of the people actually comply even after hearing it.

One recent incident was even more bone-headed. I was waiting among a large crowd at Nanaimo Station. As usual, the 25 bus was running late. Finally, two straight 25 buses came, both destined for UBC. One was packed and the other was relatively empty. As he was deploying the wheelchair ramp, the bus driver told everyone, "There's another bus right behind me!" Everyone stared blankly. I repeated it for everyone in case they could not hear. Same reaction. As the first able-bodied passengers finally boarded, the bus behind us pulled away, only a quarter full as it took us another five minutes to board everyone.

There are often times when I wonder why people tend to shut off their ears and brains while using public transit. It is not rocket science and there are often very obvious and direct instructions you need to follow in order to reduce delays and make the ride smoother.

Hopefully this is not an indication of a problem with listening skills in our society.

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