Wednesday it rained, and rained, and rained.
And then it poured and rained some more.
Craig asked me to drop his car off at the mechanics to have some work done. I took it in at 9am and since it wouldn't be ready till 2pm I opted to catch the bus home and come back.
Just missed one so caught the next one but in the intervening time I was blown by damp spray as I futilely tried to cover my entire body with a small folding umbrella.
I got damp again walking home but soon warmed up and got a few little jobs done.
And still it rained and poured.
The afternoon arrived and there was nothing for it but to plunge back into it again at 2pm and catch a bus back into town to pick up the car.
Here comes my ethical dilemma.
An incident happened on the bus that has left me disturbed, saddened and a bit sick at heart.
What would you have done?
Here is my story....
When I got on the bus, two other people got on at my stop also and I guess there was another 3 or 4 already on board. I didn't take much notice. I purchased my ticket and sat down a couple of seats from the front. The bus moved on to the next stop and a young girl and boy in their late teens got on and a man in his 20s. They moved up to the back of the bus.
The bus moved off again but pretty quickly the driver yelled out to the back of the bus,
"What are you drinking?"
"What are you drinking?"
The driver stops at the next stop and repeats the question twice more till a female voice at the back says
"She (driver) wants to know what you are drinking"
"Coke" is the (another female voice) reply.
"Hold it up, show me" says the driver.
She repeats this a number of times and the person up the back says,
"I've put it away, I won't drink it anymore"
By this stage we've all cottoned on that it must be alcohol.
I didn't turn around because I thought the humiliation for the girl up the back was so profound I didn't want to add to it and so far the little voice had been quite meek but what if they became angry and violent. I had assumed by the young sounding voice it was the young girl who had got on after me and I was feeling a bit annoyed that she was holding us all up with this stupidity. The rules are very clear about consuming alcohol.
"You can get off the bus thanks", said the driver.
About a minute of silence followed, no-one said a word and the bus driver held ground and wouldn't move off. People were starting to get restless and some were turning and looking.
"Come on love, we'll have to walk" I heard a gentle voice say.
Again I assumed it was the girl talking to the young boy who had got on with her.
Finally I heard someone opening the middle door just over my left shoulder and I turned to get a surreptitious look at the girl to see if she was at all ashamed for holding everyone up...
I was shocked to see that it was a young mother with a small boy of about three!
She walked with eyes downcast that had large black hollows underneath them.
I vaguely saw bags as she alighted and maybe a fold up stroller but the child was definitely alighting by himself from the bus.
Before I could blink the doors were closed and we had moved off again leaving them in the pouring rain with scant protection of a bus shelter.
My first reaction was to wonder what she would do now? How far was she travelling? Why was she drinking at 2pm and what had made her life so bad that she was reduced to this? What was to become of the little boy in the next 15min, next year, next 15years?
By abandoning her, I felt we had truly abandoned that child.
Should I have stopped at the next stop and walked back?
By the time this thought had occurred to me we were already a significant way ahead.
What if I did get back to her, would she accept my help or what kind of help would have been appropriate? Is it my place to make a judgement and step in to say she is not able to care for her child today.
I kept going all the way into town and collected the car and drove back home looking out for the lady and the child but the rain was torrential and conditions dangerous and it was hard to take my eyes from the road for long. She could have ducked into a shop I suppose, anyway, I didn't see them.
It has left me feeling very disturbed.
I was angry with the driver, how could she put a small child off like that?
Then again there are cameras on the bus and if she had been found to not uphold company policy then she may have risked loosing her job.
Then again, one doesn't anticipate that the zero tolerance rule for alcohol is going to involve a small child.
I tried to think of other scenarios.
Should the driver have asked the young woman to refrain and taken her to the bus depot to be met by depot management and perhaps police so that the situation could have been assessed more appropriately for the child?
I just keep feeling like we have punished an innocent child, putting them off the bus into the most miserable cold wet weather. It was pouring and blowing and probably only 10C. I worry now that the child has caught a cold or worse all because the driver took such a black and white stance and I was too slow to react. Should I have spoken up?
What would you have done if you were the driver?
What would you have done if you were me?