Reader Mail: When is “Not My Job” Potentially Fatal?

Yesterday I got this email from Reader C (who wishes to remain anonymous) about a rather troubling incident on the N that raises some serious questions about what a driver can and cannot do.

Dear NJC:
I was walking down Filmore just by the N Judah, when I witnessed an assult on a girl, she was punched pretty hard; I latter saw her face – it was not a nice sight. My cell phone was at home charging and the first person I saw was an N Judah driver getting into his car; he had a blue tooth headset so I knew he had a phone. I asked him to call 911 and he told me it was not his job, I was horrified, and I said you got to be kidding me, we got into a small argument and his supervisor came over. They both repeated it is not part of their job, I said words to the effect of “we live in a society and you have a moral obligation”. To which they laughed at me; I left as the couple that hit the girl were getting further away, as it happens I found the police at Safeway and they arrested the pair.
I understand that MUNI have a hard job but am I wrong in thinking that there is a duty to call 911 when some one asks? What sort of people are they?
Anway as this happened 20 minutes ago I am still a little upset and so thought NJudah Chronicles would be the best people to email, was this a good representation of the drivers who take us to and from work everyday?

In a follow up email, he mentioned that the driver in question refused to give their number to him, although he noted the date and time, etc. He also noted that he’s a 20 year owner/rider of Muni, and generally likes the service, but is rightfully annoyed when this kind of thing happens. (Muni, this is someone who’s a longtime fan and this is how you treat ’em? Brilliant).
This kind of “not my job” attitude, in a situation where a 911 call would not have caused the driver any harm, just pisses people off, and rightfully so. If the driver was being assaulted or robbed, and asked one of us owner/riders to call 911, should we simply say “hey, not my job?”
I don’t think so. In this case, it seems the police were able to handle it anyway, but again, would it have killed anyone to make a simple call.
Muni drivers need to take note – yes we understand you have a tough job, and yes we understand you’re not all jerks. But so long as you generally treat the owner/riders (we are not customers, dammit) with this kind of disdain, watch what happens when upcoming budget cuts threaten your livelihood.
Those people you show such contempt for might return the favor. And no one wins in the end.

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7 Responses to Reader Mail: When is “Not My Job” Potentially Fatal?

  1. anonymouse says:

    A 911 call would have been proof that the driver had a cell phone on the job, and potentially gotten him fired. Assuming that that’s the case (I don’t know Muni’s cell phone policy), that would be a cost of banning drivers from carrying cell phones.

  2. Erik says:

    It may or may not be their job as a train driver but it sure as hell is their job as a fucking human being.

  3. sally says:

    Well said, Greg.

  4. Alexandra says:

    Karma! What goes around comes around. Just watch one day he’ll need someone to help him out and he won’t get it. Muni drivers really need to learn their lessons, they never know when they might need one of their passengers’ help.

  5. Greg says:

    @anonymouse: Perhaps, but a supervisor was there and he clearly wasn’t admonishing anyone for having bluetooth headsets.
    @Erik: Totally.
    @Sally: aww..thanks.
    @alexandra: We’re all in this together. Most people who work at Muni want to do good work, and most of us just wanna go where we wanna go without drama. This kind of “aint my job” attitude just creates division when we should all be on the same side.

  6. Heather says:

    Aren’t MUNI employees essentially City employees? City employees are civil servants, and therefore have an obligation beyond a typical citizen’s obligation. Nonetheless it’s a moral obligation. And the police have a term for witnessing a crime and failing to report it, right?

  7. Preed says:

    The hypothetical that comes to my mind when stuff like this comes up is what happens when the story to the Metro driver is “Hey, there’s this package sitting on the seat this guy just left; he didn’t respond to my repeated attempts to let him know he left something on the train; can you call 911?”
    Is that also “not their job?”
    I really would like to know, from a legal and policy standpoint, when a Muni operator is and is not required to give you their “badge number” as it were.
    It seems to me the answer should be never, and immaterial of whether the MTA thinks a particular situation is or isn’t “their job,” refusing to provide identification rings of police officers who refuse to provide their badge numbers.

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