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The Bus Driver As Babysitter

I was riding on the bus today, and one of the stops on my way home was at a small plaza with a convenience store. The bus stopped, and a woman came running towards the bus, with her two small children; a toddler son, and a preschool-ish aged daughter. The bus driver waited for them to get on, which is fine, except the mother left the children on the bus, and ran BACK into the store, without them. The children were very cute, and were telling the bus driver, “We’re brother and sister!”; and excitedly showing him the bubble gum their mother had bought them, but it still seemed rude, because this mother was holding up an entire bus full of people, all of the people in the cars behind the bus, impeding traffic at the nearby intersection, and forcing the driver to “babysit” her children while she ran back into the store (the driver was a good sport, but babysitting isn’t part of his job). Maybe I’m the one who deserves to go to E-Hell for thinking this way, because the kids didn’t do anything wrong, but my thoughts on this are, public transit is public. If you want to put the kids on, and then run back into the store, well, that’s something you do with a private vehicle in a parking lot, not a bus in the middle of the street.    0814-14


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  • cara August 21, 2014, 6:16 am

    I’m confused. Did the bus wait for her? Or did the kids ride the bus by themselves? If the driver waited, how long? If she ran in the store, grabbed the rest of her stuff, and came right back, then the driver was accommodating the kid vs purchase juggling that makes riding the bus with children so challenging. That’s like the driver who would take people to their door after dark. But we don’t have enough information.

    • Abby August 21, 2014, 7:50 am

      At first I thought she put the kids on the bus to ride by themselves, which, given their ages seems illegal. But after reading it I think the mom either couldn’t carry everything and hold on to her kids in one trip, or was worried that while she was juggling both, the bus would leave without her.

      Now, if the mom did her grocery shopping while the kids were sitting on the bus, I might say that’s pretty rude, but if she just ran back in to get her bags, then I find the OP to be pretty petty to complain about this. The mom may not have access to a private vehicle, and if she held up the bus for less than 5 min, I’d say the OP needs a lesson in compassion.

      If however, the bus was sitting for 10+ minutes that is another story.

      • AnaMaria August 21, 2014, 10:01 am

        I have had to do grocery shopping via public transit and yes, it’s a hassle, but you plan ahead so that you don’t create more hassle for others. You take a backpack or small suitcase to load the groceries in (and if the kiddos are old enough, you ask them to carry a small bag of light, non-breakable items like bread or cereal). If the woman couldn’t get all her bags out in one trip, she should have asked a store employee for help. I have spent many years working retail, and if a customer wasn’t physically able to lug all their things out to the car or bus stop, there was always some kind of procedure in place for an employee to help them. Otherwise, she should have waited for the next bus, instead of using her children to mark this bus as “hers” and force the driver to wait.

        Even if I knew my children would be angels, I certainly wouldn’t leave them on public transportation alone even for two minutes- there’s no telling who might be on a bus that would take advantage of unsupervised children. I’m sorry if that sounds gross and creepy, but it’s reality.

        • Steve August 21, 2014, 10:53 am

          I think that is a very rude thing to say about the OP. Talk about interesting assumptions.

          Do you ever ride a bus? Because I find it jaw-dropping that someone would think delaying a bus for 4 1/2 minutes is somehow okay. Everyone on the bus is now at risk for being late for work or missing their connections. So are the people stuck in traffic behind them. So are the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who will be victims of the ripple effect when the bus goes on to arrive late at every stop further down the line. How many parents with two young children will be forced to wait an extra five minutes at later stops?

          Do people really not understand how etiquette works? Do they not get why everyone must be treated equally, and why the needs of one rude person do not outweigh those of the rest of the world, just because the one person happens to be standing in front of us making rude demands?

          • Steve August 21, 2014, 10:54 am

            This reply was supposed to be attached to Abby’s.

        • Powers August 25, 2014, 7:57 pm

          It’s not reality. No one’s going to “take advantage” of two kids on a bus in full sight of other passengers.

      • traherne August 21, 2014, 10:44 am

        You find an entire bus of people waiting a full 5 minutes while someone finishes their shopping acceptable? Not only rude, but irresponsible. A less patient driver might have told the kids to get off and wait unattented for their mother to come back.

      • Marie August 21, 2014, 10:59 am

        5 minutes is a huge delay for a bus. It would be a different thing if she ran back to the bus shelter or to the curb where her bags were sitting. But the OP specifically mentioned that she ran back into the store, probably across a parking lot, and made everyone wait while she got her things in order. Unless this was the very last bus of the day, the whole thing is just completely unacceptable.

        • Vicki Cole August 21, 2014, 9:07 pm

          @Marie: I definitely would have found it much more acceptable if she had the groceries at the bus stop and just put the kids on the bus first. That would add maybe a minute to the stop.

      • Kiki August 21, 2014, 2:10 pm

        My family used public transportation my entire childhood as my mother didn’t drive and my parents were divorced. Never, ever, did she put us on the bus first to go back and get the groceries. She had a cart that she put all the groceries in and asked us to carry bags, as well. It’s rude to transfer your own problems (not having alternate transportation) to other people by forcing the driver to assume responsibility of her children (for even a moment) while she went back to get her groceries. That causes a backup all along the way.

      • Rebecca August 23, 2014, 2:23 am

        5 minutes is an eternity if we are talking a bus full of commuters!! Not to mention the people in traffic behind the bus. In the city that would result in a serious traffic jam.

        The mother needed to wait for the next bus if she wasn’t ready. Not sure how much “compassion” the OP’s boss would have had if she were half an hour late due to a missed connection due to some mom holding up the bus like that.

      • iwadasn August 23, 2014, 2:54 pm

        It sounds like she wasn’t ready to get on the bus, so she used her kids to force the bus to wait for her until she actually was ready. That’s extreme special snowflake behavior–she doesn’t care about everyone on the bus who has to wait, everyone behind the bus who has to wait, everyone on the next rounds who will have to deal with a bus that’s behind schedule, and her kids who have to wait for her to come back for them; she only cares about not having to inconvenience herself by waiting for the next bus.

    • Marie August 21, 2014, 9:34 am

      No, it is unacceptable to have a bus “wait” for you so you can go grab your bags from inside a store (which I’m assuming meant having to cross a parking lot as it was a plaza). Not only are you making that particular bus late, but it is also very likely that you’re delaying the rest of the rounds that that particular driver will be making that day. You are also inconveniencing everyone else on the bus, potentially making them miss connecting routes or making them late for whatever they’re heading to. And, like the OP said, you’re holding up traffic for that street/intersection because the bus has to sit there idling while you get your things. As someone who takes public transit everyday, I’d be absolutely mortified if someone expected the bus to wait for them while they went to fetch something. It’s completely unacceptable behaviour.

      Just because this mother was running late for the bus (according to the OP, she came running out of the store as they were pulling up), and just because she has young children, does not mean she gets to waste everyone’s time. She should have just waited for the next one, or planned her time more efficiently.

      • Jelaza August 21, 2014, 9:58 am

        Also, what happens if the kids try to get off the bus (“and follow their mom” or “and wander around the parking lot”)? What happens if the kids start running up and down the aisle? What happens if they start crying and screaming? Does the bus driver (and the other passengers) have to watch the kids? If not, who deals with it?

        • BellyJean August 21, 2014, 10:31 am

          And what would have happened if someone had kidnapped the kids? Granted – there were many people watching, but you just never know. 🙁

      • Lacey August 21, 2014, 10:00 am

        This exactly.

    • Anonymous August 21, 2014, 11:26 am

      OP here. The mother and the kids came running out of the convenience store to catch the bus. They got on together, and then the mother left the kids back on the bus, and ran back into the store, alone, to get something she’d forgotten, and made the bus driver wait for her, for probably about five minutes or so. It was on a busy-ish street, right next to an intersection. Everyone on the bus was wondering what was happening, and traffic was backed up behind us.

      • Kiki August 21, 2014, 3:42 pm

        That makes it even worse! If you don’t have everything, you have to get it at another time or wait for the next bus. You don’t make people wait while you go back in to get it.

      • Jaxsue August 22, 2014, 9:44 am

        Having taken mass transit often in NJ/NY, 5 minutes is a long time. If she forgot something – say, a purchase she’d forgotten – that would take only a minute or two. While I understand that parenting can be challenging and a juggling act, this was irresponsible on her part.

  • B August 21, 2014, 6:23 am

    “If she ran in the store, grabbed the rest of her stuff, and came right back, then the driver was accommodating the kid vs purchase juggling that makes riding the bus with children so challenging.”

    If she did that, she is a complete idiot. You do NOT put your little kids on a bus then leave them. Ever. You ask someone in the store to help you beforehand. And yes, I have been on the bus like that with 3 little kids.

    • B August 21, 2014, 6:48 am

      PS Riding the bus with children is so ‘challenging’? Please. Can we not manage to do anything anymore?

      • Whodunit August 21, 2014, 10:48 am

        It is very challenging

        • B August 21, 2014, 3:52 pm

          Seriously? I’d say ‘very challenging’ is for things like health problems. Not taking my kids on a bus. I’ve never even heard a parent think taking their kids on a bus was so haaaaaaaard.

        • JackieJormpJomp August 24, 2014, 6:28 am

          HAving kids in general is challenging. And parents everywhere are not short of respect for that fact. It doesn’t make one a special case, however.

      • Raven August 21, 2014, 12:49 pm

        Hahahahaha thank you for this. I had the same conversation with my mom yesterday. We are living in a new culture of parents these days, it would seem. It’s unfortunate and reqlly aggravating.

      • EllenS August 21, 2014, 5:58 pm

        I agree that the mom in the story was rude, but yes. Juggling a toddler and preschooler is challenging all by itself. Add groceries (even with a car) and then add public transportation – you have a gruelling day/week/month/life. I have worked some physically demanding jobs, like construction cleanup and factory work, but raising 2 kids less than 2 years apart, taking public transport everywhere, beat them all hands-down for sheer manual labor.

        Doesn’t make her any less rude. But there’s also no reason to snark at the idea that she may have been coping badly with a difficult situation.

        • Ems August 27, 2014, 4:12 am

          It may be challenging, but it is a challenge *she* took on. And as it was her decision to have children, its her job to take care of the children and not put the challenge on others to parent. I feel like even if it was “oh no I left the eggs kn the conveyor belt” that she sjould have waited. Forcing the bus to wait but putting her kids on wasn’t okay. It was also dangerous.

    • PucksMuse August 21, 2014, 9:30 am

      I hope this lady doesn’t ride the subway with her kids. Yeesh.

  • JWH August 21, 2014, 6:31 am

    Also … was the bus running a little early? Running a little late? Did woman run back in for one minute? Two minutes? Five minutes? Fifteen minutes?

    • DanaJ August 21, 2014, 12:18 pm

      She put her kids on the bus and then went back into the building. I don’t thik it matters if it was 2 minutes or 20.

      If she was ready to go with both her kids and shopping bags all at the bus stop, putting them on borad and turning her back to pick up her packages which are already next to her is one thing. But loading them on board and then leaving the immediate scene is really, really stupid in addition to being disrespectful to the driver and other passengers. You can’t randomly put a total stranger in the position of being responsible the safety of your children, and you certianly shouldn’t do so without giving them any choice in the matter.

  • sam August 21, 2014, 6:32 am

    I agree with cara – more info is needed. Was this a bus where there was one every ten minutes, or if she missed the bus she’d be stranded for a significant amount of time? If she was trying to check out at the store and it took longer than she planned, and she was at risk of getting herself and her kids stranded for hours if she didn’t do this while she ran back into the store to finish paying, I’m probably more willing to forgive than if it’s, say, a NYC bus where there’s one every 10-15 minutes.

    It’s probably outside the scope of “etiquette” to open a discussion about the absolutely piss-poor transportation options and policies provided to people outside of major urban areas who can’t afford cars, but if that’s what’s going on here, i’d chalk it up to compassion on the driver’s part. Also, if she’s a regular rider, she and the driver may know each other at this point. Even in NYC, when I used to ride the bus every day, I got to know the “regular” drivers on my route pretty well.

    • Anonymous August 21, 2014, 11:31 am

      The bus service here runs every 30 minutes, and every 60 minutes in the evenings (after 8 p.m. or so), and on Sundays and statutory holidays, and there’s also a bus that goes weekday mornings and evenings to and from a nearby military base. I live in a medium city, I’ve had my driver’s license for some time, but I can’t afford a car. Every year, the city tries to “improve” public transit, but without taking the obvious steps of making the buses run earlier (the first bus on Sundays isn’t until 9 a.m.), later (it’s almost impossible to get anywhere in the evenings, and completely impossible after 11 or so), or more frequently. As for the situation at hand, that woman wouldn’t have been “stranded” for more than 30 minutes, maximum, because that street was on more than one bus route.

    • JackieJormpJomp August 24, 2014, 6:25 am

      I live in Toronto–tons of buses. But holding it up for even two minutes would hold up a lot of traffic, and slow down the line further on, as there would be larger crowds trying to get on the bus.
      It’s incredibly rude.

  • Alli August 21, 2014, 6:44 am

    I agree this sounds insane. I ride the bus regularly. Depending on the ages of the kids, most drivers would probably assume the mom had put them on for a trip and drive off – not a good idea. Where I live, if you’re lucky, the bus *might* wait for you if you’re running up to the stop, but you’d better hustle and be ready to get on. I’ve also seen bus drivers ask people who are taking forever to find their change or card to move and let other people pay first so the bus can get going. Bus drivers are supposed to try to keep to their schedules and so don’t like to be held up.

    I just don’t understand what happened here. If the mom was running in to get her stuff, why didn’t she have it at the stop with them? Did she say anything to the driver? How long was she gone for?

  • Allie August 21, 2014, 6:46 am

    Was it a good idea? Probably not. But I am going to give mom a pass this time. I have a little one almost 20 months. I can’t even imagine having 2 under 5. Who knows what this poor woman’s day had been like. Sometimes we need to slow down and be a little kinder to each other. If a few people got delayed a few minutes and she was able to get her stuff together and get where she was going, where’s the harm? I think the bus driver was right to show her some patience. It takes a village…

    • Reboot August 21, 2014, 9:54 am

      I hate the “it takes a village” phrase; it always seems to get trotted out to excuse parental rudeness. I’m not going to be impolite to parents, or hold them to higher expectations than I do anyone else, but I certainly didn’t sign up to help raise their children. I’m understanding of children’s foibles (hey, I don’t -enjoy- the sound of shrieking kids, but I understand that a lot of the time, there’s not much to be done about it, and I doubt the parents like it either), but that doesn’t mean that parents should get a pass on rudeness just because they’re parents.

      • Yellow Rose August 21, 2014, 10:34 am

        I’m a parent of twins; I’ve had to be creative in how I used my time and resources in planning shopping and transportation. I’ve never resorted to the ‘it takes a village’ mentality; I’ve seen the village, and for the most part, want no part of it.

        • Enna August 23, 2014, 10:26 am

          My friend has twins – she said she tries to be as quick as she can when she is on the bus but is amazed at how impatient people can be and yet they don’t offer her help. I always make a point of offering a woman with a pram help getting it on or off a bus or a train. Sometimes they say no which is fine but they always appreciate the offer.

        • Reboot August 24, 2014, 8:50 pm

          Yeah, most parents I’ve encountered are perfectly reasonable people; I didn’t intend to sound as though I think all or even a large proportion of parents aren’t, and I apologise if I came across that way. I’ll offer assistance if I see a parent struggling and I can (although since I’ve started using a cane, it’s become more difficult) because that’s a basically decent thing to do, you know? It just seems that the “it takes a village” mantra always comes out when someone -is- doing something unreasonable (not just taking a little bit longer to get onto a bus because of juggling children and bags; to my mind, that’s perfectly reasonable, unlike what happened in this story) to inconvenience everybody else, that’s all.

      • B August 21, 2014, 10:42 am

        Especially when very few parents are happy for that village to correct their children, or their own bad parenting.

      • KA August 21, 2014, 11:43 am

        I agree more info is needed, but I’m also inclined to agree strongly with Reboot’s post above. Someone else’s choice to have children doesn’t automatically co-opt me into a metaphorical village, and their choice doesn’t mean I should be late for work or anything else on my plate, including dealing with any theoretical children of my own.

    • Wild Irish Rose August 21, 2014, 10:07 am

      The harm is in leaving your VERY young children on a public bus in the care of strangers. If you’re going shopping, which isn’t as a rule an impulsive move but is usually planned, you either need to take a device with you on which to transport your packages so you can keep your kids with you at all times, or you find a babysitter to watch them while you shop, or you enlist the help of a friend, fellow church member, SOMEONE with a car to help you take care of these kinds of chores. You simply DO NOT leave your small children on a public bus while you “run back into the store” for your purchases. Also, many supermarkets have delivery service–designed to help people exactly like this mother. It doesn’t cost very much, and goes a long way toward ensuring the safety of your children. This mom does not get a pass from me–there are too many ways around this.

      • Ann August 25, 2014, 7:18 am

        While I agree about having help if possible, I’m assuming this story comes from the USA, where home delivery of groceries is not very common and can be very expensive.

    • Calliope August 21, 2014, 10:22 am

      I do have 2 under 5, and it’s as difficult as you might imagine. And yes, I chose to have them, and no, no one else but their father signed up to take care of them, and yes I know that the rest of the world doesn’t think they’re as precious and wonderful as I do, and on and on, I get it. I know that being a parent doesn’t entitle me to special treatment. I know. At the same time, knowing how difficult it is to get anything done with little ones in tow, I am quick to cut other parents some slack.

      Before I had kids of my own, I probably would have read this story and had some unkind thoughts about the mother. But as it is, I found myself imagining the kind of day that mother was probably having, and I felt grateful to the bus driver for being so accommodating. Maybe the bus driver’s patience with this one passenger slightly inconvenienced other passengers. Well, when you ride public transit, that’s what happens. You’re sometimes inconvenienced for other people. Sometimes a passenger asks the driver for detailed walking directions before getting off the bus, making the bus miss the green light that would have assured you made your connection. Sometimes a huge group of tourists gets on, filling the bus so that people at the next stop can’t get on. Sometimes a person with a wheelchair wants to get on and the wheelchair ramp gets stuck and the bus driver has to call out a mechanic. And sometimes a harried parent makes a less-than-perfect choice that causes a delay. It happens. And a person who is made very upset by this reality should probably not take public transportation.

      • Steve August 21, 2014, 1:41 pm

        The scent of parental entitlement is enough to knock one over.

        • Calliope August 21, 2014, 1:59 pm

          Interesting. Where do you see “parental entitlement” coming from me? I’m entitled because I’m inclined give other parents the benefit of the doubt? Does it make you feel better to know that I’m inclined to give most people the benefit of the doubt, whether they’re parents with young children or not? That I don’t get angry if a bus waits for a person who’s running to catch it? That it doesn’t make my blood pressure spike if another passenger holds up traffic by asking the bus driver a lot of questions about the route? That I don’t huff and puff if an elderly passenger requires assistance with grocery bags, and that slows things down? I’m very sorry that you read compassion for my fellow human beings as entitlement on my part. I’ll continue to be patient and to assume the best of others. You are free to continue seething over that.

          • A different Tracy August 21, 2014, 2:38 pm

            I see it here: ” And a person who is made very upset by this reality should probably not take public transportation.”

            You’re saying that a person who gets upset when someone deliberately delays a bus, just because she’s a parent who might be having a bad day, is the problem. Not the person who delayed the bus. There’s your entitlement.

          • Calliope August 21, 2014, 5:10 pm

            A different Tracy, I said that a person who gets very upset over any kind of delays caused by other passengers should probably not take public transportation. Delays are a part of public transportation, whether because of harried parents or slow-moving tourists or office workers who run to catch a bus. Someone else’s bad day, poor planning, mistake, whatever, can and will have an effect on your commute. If you have a problem with that, then no, you probably should not take the bus.

          • Joy August 21, 2014, 7:59 pm

            she gave many examples of how or why a bus might be delayed many not including children. I think you are looking for an entitlement that clearly is not present.

          • Steve August 21, 2014, 11:34 pm

            We are not talking about “any kind” of delays. We are talking about an entitled parent. Not old ladies, tourists or whomever else an entitled parent wishes to hide behind.

          • Vermin8 August 22, 2014, 9:34 am

            There are always the “usual” delays (random variation in traffic, more people than expected, lights going against you). Regular commuters will take that into account. But the addition of unusual delays is added on top of those. Mom had an option – let the bus go and get the next one or call a taxi. A 5 minute delay meant anyone on that bus (not just the ones already on the bus but the ones who were going to be picked up after this stop) risked missing a appointment or work start time through no fault of their own. It’s a shame to have to add on to an already long commute to account not just for random, unavoidable events, but for avoidable events caused by someone else who doesn’t care how they impact you.

          • Anonymous August 22, 2014, 10:08 am

            I didn’t huff, puff, or seethe. I was just sitting on the bus, listening to music on my phone, and wondering what was going on, because remember, the woman didn’t say how long she was going to be.

          • JackieJormpJomp August 24, 2014, 6:29 am

            @Calliope–yes delays are inevitable. It’s still rude to deliberately cause them.

        • Hollyhock August 21, 2014, 7:11 pm

          I truly agree with you, Steve.

          How about “sometimes people who aren’t ready to board the bus when it arrives need to calm down, organize themselves and wait for the next bus instead of expecting to use up others’ time and convenience to serve their own purposes” ??

      • Wild Irish Rose August 21, 2014, 1:58 pm

        I rode the bus to work for years. It is an express bus, meaning it picks up in my suburb, goes downtown, makes half a dozen stops there, and that’s it. I can’t tell you how many times a fellow passenger was running behind, even just a couple of minutes, and the delay of a few minutes made the bus late on its route, which meant we’d often get stuck in traffic, which made everyone late to work. It happened more than once, and it irritated all the passengers. I get that the unexpected happens from time to time, and those things are just things you have to deal with. But this mother took her two small children shopping with her, then expected everyone to wait while she tied up the loose ends. It’s HER responsibility to make sure she has her ducks in a row, not the passengers’. And has been pointed out more than once on this thread, it wasn’t ONLY the passengers who were inconvenienced–it was everyone behind the bus, everyone who needed to make a connection, etc. This wasn’t the unexpected, this was self-entitled thinking and no, Mom doesn’t get a pass here.

        • Calliope August 21, 2014, 2:46 pm

          It certainly could have been something unexpected. (I’d be inclined to say it almost definitely was, since no mother I know would plan to run out of a store, put her children on a bus, and run back in to get something.) Maybe as the bus was pulling up, the mother realized she’d forgotten her purse in the store, or that she’d left the gallon of milk she’d paid for at the register. Maybe she had to pick up another child from an appointment at a certain time, or she was hurrying to drop the kids off at home before heading to her job. Or maybe she was just being thoughtless. Whatever the case, we don’t know. All we know is that for whatever reason, a bus passenger delayed the bus, which is something that all bus passengers should be prepared for, because it happens all the time. When I took the bus to work, I always took the bus before the one that would get me there just in the nick of time. I planned ahead for myself, and that meant allowing extra time for the unexpected. That goes with the territory when you rely on public transit.

          • Steve August 21, 2014, 11:40 pm

            It doesn’t happen all the time that a passenger makes an entire bus wait five minutes for her. It happens almost never.

            It is fascinating that “we don’t know “”whatever reason” this rude woman “delayed the bus,” yet we have absolute certain knowledge that anybody who complains about it has not properly planned their commute. What an interesting, interesting assumption.

          • JackieJormpJomp August 24, 2014, 6:31 am

            Delays happen all the time, sure. People asking a bus to wait while they finish shopping happens pretty much never because it’s unfathomably entitled.

      • Snarkastic August 21, 2014, 2:39 pm

        I don’t feel this situation is comparable to someone in a wheelchair needing access to the special lift. Everyone is entitled to ride the bus. If a person in a wheelchair wanted to board, but then asked the driver to wait for his twenty Murderball teammates who were three blocks away, that would be a different story…

        • Hollyhock August 21, 2014, 7:13 pm

          Also, few people are in wheelchairs due to their own choice. Being a parent of two tiny children is definitely a voluntary lifestyle choice and not comparable to being handicapped, elderly or otherwise in need of special assistance. I am shocked that anyone would make the analogy.

          • Sura September 30, 2014, 2:09 pm

            This is going around. The special parking spots started it.

      • Karen L August 21, 2014, 4:37 pm

        There’s a bus full of people, none of whom are worth cutting slack for? None of the drivers blocked by the bus deserve any slack? The mother’s day was automatically worse than any of the other dozens of people’s day and she alone is worthy of any consideration? I don’t buy it.

        • Jaxsue August 22, 2014, 9:47 am

          What Karen L. said.

      • Anonymous August 22, 2014, 5:43 am

        I wasn’t “very upset” by this; I was just on my way home from the gym, but I was wondering if what this woman did was rude, or if I was the rude one for feeling that it was “off.”

        • Vermin8 August 22, 2014, 9:37 am

          No, you were correct. It was rude. It not only throws many peoples’ schedules off it puts the children at danger for being unattended and puts the riders and passengers behind the bus at risk since traffic piling up where it should increases the risk of an accident.

    • Steve August 21, 2014, 10:28 am

      You don’t get to give the mom pass. A pass is not yours to give. You do not speak for the dozens or hundreds of people delayed by this action. What harm? Etiquette is not defined by one person’s lack of imagination. What is a man with chest pains were delayed getting to the hospital? What if an hourly worker arrived five minutes late for work, and was docked an hour’s pay? What if someone missed an important train or plane connection? Who are you to decide that all of these represent no harm?

    • ColoradoCloudy August 21, 2014, 12:34 pm

      Many people use the bus to go to work or get to appointments. Imagine sitting there, knowing you still have to walk a few blocks after you get off the bus, to get to work on time, and this woman shoves her kids on the bus and runs off! To hold up an entire busload of passengers, who may be under time constraints, is rude. To leave your small children on a public bus is beyond rude, it’s endangerment.

    • Rave August 21, 2014, 12:46 pm

      A few minutes can add a LOT of minutes to a person’s commute. A late bus can mean a missed connection, which could make a person late for work, for example. The world is not responsible for raising your kids, and it’s not ok to inconvenience a bus load of people because you have kids. I swear, as soon as people have kids, they forget that other people even exist.

      • Northlight August 21, 2014, 1:18 pm

        Exactly. That five minutes would have changed my previous commute from an hour to closer to two based upon missed connections.

      • Joy August 21, 2014, 8:04 pm

        I think that is a very big stretch Rave. Busses are late all of the time for all different reasons. It seems the bus driver was not put out by this action and had the authority to ask her to wait for the next bus. Your hostility towards all parents is misdirected and frankly quite hurtful. I have four kids and somehow manage to know other folks exist, imagine that.

        • Raven August 22, 2014, 8:07 am

          My hostility is directed at people who procreate and then expect everyone else to take a backseat. These days, people seem to expect the world to revolve around their kids, rather than raise their kids to be part of the world. I used to be an Early Childhood Educator; part of the reason I quit is that I was fed up with having to deal with a classroom full of Special Snowflakes. It is extremely frustrating.

          As for this incident, it’s not a stretch to assume that this woman’s behaviour potentially caused inconvenient, frustrating, stressful problems for other people. Sure, buses are often late – to be the cause of a late bus because of an inability to think about other people is not acceptable. Dumping her unsupervised kids on a bus because she forgot something is not appropriate. She should have taken the kids back off the bus and allowed everyone else to get on with their day.

          It’s lovely that you are not a self-centred parent, but that doesn’t mean that the culture as a whole is undergoing a massive, unfortunate shift.

        • Vermin8 August 22, 2014, 9:39 am

          No, we don’t know that. He probably didn’t know she was going to run back into the store and didn’t have a chance to say anything. Even if he did, I’ve seen bus drivers keep their mouth shut because they know they would get in trouble if the rider complained and/or because they can’t do anything if the rider s refuses to follow rules.

      • Vicki Cole August 21, 2014, 9:17 pm

        @Rave: exactly! I commute by bus and light rail. If my bus is five minutes late getting to the light rail station, I miss the one train that will get me to work on time. In addition – the five minutes the bus was held up could result in the driver facing much heavier traffic, which would put everyone even farther behind. (And if you don’t think this can happen – if the bus I take home at night is on time, it can move quickly down the major street the station is on, AND the also fairly major street it turns onto a few blocks from the station. If the bus is delayed five minutes – and it happens more often than I like to say- there’s a considerable increase in the traffic, especially on the second street.)

    • hakayama August 21, 2014, 1:32 pm

      Yup! It sure does take a village idiot to pull a stunt like this.
      However, in your ever so compassionate take on this scene, about what “this poor woman’s day had been like”, you neglected to think of the busload of other people… and THEIR day.
      Then, of course, let’s not forget the potential real winner “trump card” of the ditz possibly being a single mother*. These days it really does get a lot of mileage.
      *Of course, my own fave is “I’m a single mom of five”. (From three known and one unknown father.) 😉 Which is maybe a tad different from “widowed” or “divorced” when it comes to indicating life choices/events/accidents.

      • Joy August 21, 2014, 8:07 pm

        interesting assumption hakayama. I find that mentality rude in and of itself. Her life choices are not pertanent to this story at all. I am very curious what the bus driver said or what was said between the Mom and the bus driver. If the bus driver did not have an issue with it and the op did call the bus company with the driver name and route. We are inconvienced on a daily basis and a small bit of compassion and understanding goes a very long way.

        • Steve August 22, 2014, 11:15 am

          Your compassion is very selective.

          • Joy August 28, 2014, 7:07 pm

            I do not have compassion for someone assuming her marital status had anything to do with this situation. I find it quite distressing and very rude. Why is being a single mother rude? I do not find comparing a widow or divorcee to a single by choice Mom to be very fair at all. I wonder why you are so angry at parents in general. I choose to live with a compassionate heart and I am a much happier person for it. I never said that I did not find her actions rude, I just said I can see forgetting a wallet and unintentionally being rude. I seriously doubt this was done on purpose but in a moment of panic we sometimes forget basic manners. I do hope she sincerely apologized to the driver and it would have been nice to apologize to the folks who were put out by her brain fart.

        • Ai August 25, 2014, 11:34 am

          I consider myself a compassionate person and I can sympathize with a stressed out mother. However; I also feel compassion for people waiting on the bus; some who may have appointments, may need to go to work, make a connection etc. I also have compassion with the people stuck behind the bus, building traffic, who also have places to be, appointments to make.

          The mother was RUDE. Plain and simple. Because of her carelessness, the bus was held up from it’s schedule on a busy street. Just because we are “inconvienced on a daily basis” doesn’t stop the fact that the mother was rude and careless.

    • JJ August 21, 2014, 5:29 pm

      Except the buses have to run on a timely schedule. The ones around where I live are strict and can’t even stop for a break that is to long so they don’t have to time to wait for mommy who can’t just get her stuff later or have the kids wait with her for the next bus. It does not take a village it takes the parents of the children who chose to have the children. Sounds like mom needed to be more organized and used her kids as a mean of hijacking the bus to wait for her while she kept shopping. The bus driver is nicer then many because he should of made the kids step off the bus and wait outside the store or sent them back to the store with their mother and made her take another bus. She has no right to delay the bus schedule for her own convenience.

    • Vicki August 21, 2014, 6:29 pm

      Who knows what the days of the other people on the bus have been like?

      Maybe one of them was hurrying to pick their own children up from day care, and would be charged a dollar a minute after a set time. Maybe someone had to get to a doctor’s appointment, and might have to wait an extra half hour, or reschedule, if they were late. I can think of a lot of things that are more urgent than that one more thing forgotten at the grocery store.

      I accept having to sit in the waiting room because the bus only runs every half hour and I’d rather be early than late. I would be furious if I left in plenty of time, waiting for someone like this selfish woman, and still got there late and was told the doctor couldn’t see me. (When another passenger fell and hit her head as the bus was approaching my doctor’s office, I shouted to the driver to stop the bus, even though I might have been late–because my routine checkup doesn’t trump someone else’s possible concussion. But when I have left on time, it does trump someone else’s suddenly remembered orange juice.)

    • Jenny R August 21, 2014, 6:33 pm

      The “It takes a village” is offensive to me. I am not part of The Village, I didn’t sign up for it and am not willing to be volunteered to put up with nonsense just because ITAV. The ITAV is a buzz word used by people with an entitlement mindset

      That delay of a “few minutes” may have made someone miss a chemotherapy appointment, miss the shuttle to the airport and their flight, be late to a job interview, be late for their chemistry final which they will now not be allowed to take at all. These things are just as important than the needs of some woman who can’t get her act together enough to stay on the bus with her own kids.

    • Hollyhock August 21, 2014, 7:08 pm

      It seems it only “takes a village” when it’s something the parents want the village to give to them. When the villagers start asking for input into decisions, or for parents to be accountable for their actions, etc., — suddenly it’s “don’t question my parenting.”

      The woman needs to be better organized. As others have said, a cart, backpack, tote bag, asking the retailer for assistance, whatever. If she’s got multiple children she’s had literally years to ponder the logistics and come up with a solution that doesn’t inconvenience dozens or hundreds of “villagers.”

      • Melanie August 22, 2014, 2:13 am

        I love this.

      • Steve August 22, 2014, 11:32 am

        Hear, hear!

      • NostalgicGal August 25, 2014, 11:37 pm


    • Tracy W August 22, 2014, 3:32 am

      Well, I think the odds that the bus gets in a road accident with mum and kids aboard are much higher than people trying to kidnap kids who are on a bus without their mum. No one does their parenting based on “you just never know”.

      That said, it’s ridiculous to hold up the bus and expect the bus driver to entertain and look after your small kids.

    • Tracy W August 22, 2014, 3:34 am

      I can’t even imagine having 2 under 5.

      I have 2 under 5. I couldn’t really imagine it ahead of time either, but I kept reminding myself that my mum coped with 3 under 5 and you do learn to cope.

      • Jaxsue August 22, 2014, 9:51 am

        I agree, Tracy W. It’s amazing how resilient our parents and grandparents could be. My mom had 6 kids in 8.5 yrs. She juggled that with her duties as a preacher’s wife (which were unpaid, but many). I thought of that anytime I help a pity party for myself, as the parent of 2 boys!

      • NostalgicGal August 25, 2014, 11:45 pm

        Many years back when I waitressed, we had a family come in for Mother’s Day, she had 8 under 10. The last one was a week old and in the then new style baby tote things that could sit on a table. One booster and one high chair, the baby in the tote, and 7 kid meals. (for under 10)… They came in a lot after that one, it took almost a year before the oldest was ordering off the adult menu (burger only, please) and mom would grab a few fries off every plate to give him a serving of fries. So she had 8 in 9 years, and how she managed I don’t know. She DID have them drilled on manners, and they minded.

        Just this past weekend, woman I visited with at a show has 5 under 6; no multiples. And she seemed to be coping well with managing that many… and she had them drilled on manners, and they minded.

        More reasons I won’t give the bus-mother a pass on drop her kids off.

    • Auntie Mame August 24, 2014, 1:57 pm

      No. The village is not responsible for YOUR children. I love how that phrase is only trotted when “parents” decide they don’t want to deal with the choices they made so they expect total strangers to watch their kids. I have no interest in your kids so keep them away from me.

    • Aleko August 25, 2014, 10:38 am

      How do you know he ‘showed her some patience’? As the OP tells it, she didn’t give him any choice in the matter. With these kids in his bus and their mother gone, what else could he do but wait? Physically bundle them out on to the bus stop and say ‘Stay here and wait for your mommy’? Drive off with them in the bus? I don’t think so!

      Saying ‘it takes a village’ concept is entirely irrelevant here, and frankly just stupid. What that concept actually means – and the form it really takes in the kind of olde-world tribal society where it exists – is that every adult has responsibility for socializing all the community’s children. In such a society, therefore, if you or I or anyone saw a child doing anything it shouldn’t, it would be our duty to grab him/her by the ear and administer a lecture, a sound spanking, or whatever form of correction was the norm. Are you advocating that?

      In any case, whether or not it would be a good thing if in our society the driver (and all he passengers) had responsibility for this mother’s kids, the fact is that they don’t. (If they had, another corollary would be that they would all have had a perfect right, and indeed duty, to join in collectively berating this mother.) It was grossly unfair to the drive to stick him with the responsibility for these kids when he had no right to touch them or rebuke them. Suppose they had innocently started to smear bubblegum over the seats, or swing along the aisles? He knew he could be in for a lawsuit if he touched them, or shouted at them, or even spoke to them sternly enough to make them cry.

  • JO August 21, 2014, 7:12 am

    Left her children on the bus?? The “etiquette” of this situation is suddenly the least of my worries.

    • Lizajane August 21, 2014, 3:41 pm

      That’s exactly where I am in this.

  • Daisy August 21, 2014, 7:35 am

    This isn’t an etiquette question. It’s a child safety question. What if the bus driver had declined his role as babysitter and driven away? What if Ye Olde Local Pervert was sitting in the first seat? What if one of the children had tried to dash back in to Mom and fallen down the bus steps? It’s not good to be an alarmist, but you have to take reasonable action to protect your kids. This woman had a hopefully temporary brain freeze.

    • Goldie August 21, 2014, 11:10 am

      Yes. What Daisy said.

      • Kimstu August 21, 2014, 7:59 pm

        The child-safety aspect is definitely the most important part of this situation, but there’s a valid etiquette question in there too.

        And the answer is easy: The etiquette of public transit use requires that you be prepared to board your vehicle when it arrives, with any accompanying possessions and/or persons assembled and ready so you can get them on board as quickly and efficiently as possible.

        No, it is not correct behavior to hold up a bus for minutes at a time while you run into a store to grab your stuff. Whether or not other people are willing to “cut a mom some slack” for her etiquette failure on the grounds of parental stress or what-not doesn’t change the fact that it WAS an etiquette failure, and the mom should have been apologizing to the bus driver as well as the other passengers for inflicting it on them.

  • Joanna August 21, 2014, 7:43 am

    Seems clear to me what the mom was doing…she knew she wouldn’t make the bus in time, so she put her kids on board (thus rendering the driver unable to keep going) as a kind of “placeholder” while she completed her shopping. DEFINITELY bad parenting and just overall bad behavior!

    I’m presuming it was just a couple of minutes (not that that makes it ok) but if it was any longer, if I were the driver I’d just call the police.

    • Snarkastic August 21, 2014, 2:42 pm

      I agree. Frankly, that’s why I want children: if I’m ever running late, I can just send them ahead to restaurants so I don’t lose my reservation.

  • SusanB August 21, 2014, 7:44 am

    Sounds like someone wanted to be sure she caught the bus before her errand was complete because she didn’t want to wait for the next one. She certainly seemed comfortable with having everyone else waiting on her, but I guess she thought that was different somehow. People will not stop selfish entitled behavior if they are not called out on it and I think it would have been appropriate for the driver to return the children to their mother. Either way the bus was still going to be blocking traffic. Now this mother has learned that this is behavior she can get away with.

    • A different Tracy August 21, 2014, 2:40 pm

      That’s a good point. *Someone* would have to wait, and the mom made sure it was the other bus passengers instead of her.

  • ImpossibleGirl August 21, 2014, 7:50 am

    Why did the driver let her leave the children on the bus? He should have called store security.

    • Phoenix August 22, 2014, 10:02 am

      Probably couldn’t get the store’s number.

  • twoferrets August 21, 2014, 8:03 am

    The driver’s accommodation of the woman is nice *for the woman,* but there’s a good chance it can inconvenience many other people- I myself have several times been late for work because people hail my local bus only to ask the driver questions about when the express is coming! I’m sure they appreciate the driver’s help, but those of us who end up missing the train connection we were aiming for aren’t as pleased. Also, by putting her kids on the bus first she was basically forcing the driver to accommodate her- he can’t do anything but wait for her or demand that she not leave them unattended, and either way there’s a delay.

  • Mya August 21, 2014, 8:18 am

    Either way, the onus is on the bus passenger to be at the stop, prepared for the journey (money, luggage etc). What this woman did was essentially hold the bus to ransom by putting her children on board first. She is the kind of mother who would push a child in a pushchair into the middle of the road to force cars to stop and let her cross. In this situation she was dictating the schedule of the bus by making it impossible for the driver to leave – if he’d driven off with her children, I’m pretty sure he’d end up arrested, and you can’t just put children that age off the bus onto the pavement (sidewalk) on their own – not if you have any moral fibre at all. This woman was inexcusably wrong. What she SHOULD have done, if she wasn’t ready to leave the store, would been to have finished her shopping, got her shopping and children to the bus stop in plenty of time and waited for the next bus. If I’d been the driver in this situation I would have driven the children to the nearest Police station and reported that their mother had abandoned them on the bug. Since that is essentially what she did. Difficult situation all around really.

  • Cat August 21, 2014, 8:30 am

    I won’t cut her too much slack on this. For one thing, I am not leaving my very young child/children on a bus full of strangers even for a brief period. What would she have done if someone had snatched up the baby and run down the street? Would she leave one to run after the other? Things can happen far too quickly in cities today.
    A friend of mine stopped her sports car at a traffic light with her infant daughter in her carrier next to her. A man walked up to the driver’s side to ask directions-while a woman reached into the other side to grab the baby. My friend leaned over and bit her. They both ran and were never found.

    • Yasuragi August 21, 2014, 6:39 pm

      That is horrifying! I’m glad your friend was able to react to quickly.

      • Yasuragi August 21, 2014, 6:39 pm

        *so quickly

    • NostalgicGal August 25, 2014, 11:47 pm

      Bravo she could react so quickly. Hope she didn’t catch anything from biting the grabby woman. That’s horrible.

  • Zepheera August 21, 2014, 8:34 am

    I’d honestly be more concerned with the fact that this woman left her small children alone with strangers. Yeah, there may have been a lot witnesses to this instance, but someday she’s going to pull that stunt and the kids will disappear.

  • Lera99 August 21, 2014, 9:03 am

    It seems scary to leave kids that young in the company of random strangers on the bus.

    I also would like to know how long the bus was delayed.

    Scenario 1:
    She put the kids on the bus, runs back to the store, grabs her bags, and then runs back to the bus.


    Scenario 2:
    She put the kids on the bus to keep the bus from leaving, walks back to the store, picks up the rest of the things she wanted, buys them, then walks back to the bus.

    Because the first scenario seems like a harried mom frantically trying to juggle kids and purchases. She really wants to make sure she doesn’t miss the bus.

    The second scenario sounds like someone who wanted to make the bus wait for her while she finished shopping.

    The first scenario isn’t ideal – but I have compassion for that lady and would let it go.

    The second scenario shows a really entitled attitude and I’d be willing to relegate her to e-hell.

    • Anonymous August 21, 2014, 11:36 am

      First scenario. But, bear in mind that nobody on the bus knew how long she’d be when she left, and the bus was blocking traffic.

      • Joy August 21, 2014, 8:10 pm

        I am curious what was said between the driver and the Mom if you heard it?

    • Anonymouse August 21, 2014, 7:51 pm

      Thank you, Lera. My thoughts exactly.

      In either scenario the woman was thoughtless, but still it was a minor event in the greater scheme. Based on other updates, I guess it was a forgotten wallet. This tells me that the delay was a one-time deal and not a regular habit of the mother. Mildly inconsiderate, but forgivable.

      If the mother did this everyday, or was making people wait for her to buy things, it would be a different story altogether.

  • Steve August 21, 2014, 9:07 am

    Line-cutting under a different guise. I have needs, therefore I come first. Some parents are especially good at this. “But think of the children! ” Never mind that the first car behind the bus may contain a woman in labor actually having a child. All I care about are my needs.

    If people complained, she would probably call them rude.

    • Vicki Cole August 21, 2014, 9:22 pm

      She wasn’t thinking much of the children when she put them on a bus full of strangers by themselves!

  • alex August 21, 2014, 9:08 am

    No, I think that was rude. She basically held up an entire bus full of people, which altered his time schedule which held up everyone else who was waiting for the bus all over the city. So she was definitely the rude one.

  • ShinyFun August 21, 2014, 9:26 am

    If I were the bus driver, I would have taken the kids off the bus and waited for the mom. As soon as she made her appearance in the store exit, I’d have gotten back on the bus and drove off, sans mom and kids.

    There is NO reason for her to have left her kids alone on a bus, holding up everyone else on that bus. It was a shopping trip, not an emergency. 10 seconds or 10 minutes, either way is rude and dangerous.

  • LadyLelan August 21, 2014, 9:54 am

    There is way too little information for me to be able to get a proper idea of what was really going on. Could OP please give more details on this story?

    • Jaxsue August 21, 2014, 11:41 am

      I agree – there are more questions than answers. I hope the OP comes back to elaborate.

    • Anonymous August 21, 2014, 12:28 pm

      Sure. I didn’t want to make the story too long, but here’s what happened:

      1. I was riding on the bus as normal. Bus wasn’t crowded, but there were maybe 10-15 people on it, and there were cars behind the bus, as it rounded a corner, going through a somewhat busy intersection.

      2. Right near said intersection, the bus stopped in front of a small plaza. Mother and kids came running out of a convenience store in said plaza, towards the bus. This didn’t seem to be an urgent shopping trip; as they hadn’t bought anything other than bubble gum for the kids.

      3. Mother and kids boarded the bus. Mother remembered that she’d left her wallet in the store. Mother left her kids on the bus, and went back into the store……and took at least five minutes in there. The store was only about 20 or 30 feet away from the bus stop, and practically right across from said bus stop, so she wasn’t going a long way.

      4. While the mother was in the store, the kids were engaging the bus driver in conversation, and he was humouring them, while everyone else on the bus was wondering what the heck was going on.

      5. Mother returned to the bus, and our journey resumed, but there was a definite air of “What just happened here?” I’ve ridden a lot of public transit in my time, and never seen anything like this, before or since. I’m not pearl-clutching or anything, but it was a truly bizarre experience.

      • Steve August 21, 2014, 1:52 pm

        Cue the second chorus of justifications for the mother’s behavior. She thought it would only take a minute, it wasn’t her fault, etc.

        Even if she had a discombobulated brain cramp when she discovered her wallet missing, did she come back out to retrieve her kids once she had recovered her senses? No.

        Did she apologize long and loud for her terrible rudeness? No.

        OP, I seriously suggest calling the bus company and reporting the driver. Somebody needs a reminder about how the system works.

        • Devil's Advocate August 21, 2014, 2:30 pm


          Please, tell me what the driver could have done in this situation? Here our is options:

          1. tackle the mom when she runs away from the bus and drag her back
          2. Put the kids (young children, busy intersection) off the bus and continue on
          3. Wait for the mom to get back, remove her and the kids from the bus.
          4. What he actually did.

          He can’t do one–not enough time if she ran back into the store. He also can’t do one because he can’t just leave the bus unattended to go after the mother in the store.

          He could do two….but not in real world and I appreciate he has more sense then the mother.

          He could do three, and maybe that’s the one you would vote for, at the cost of much more time to all those onboard the bus.

          Or he could do what he did and get the bus moving as fast as possible.

          The mom was rude and in the wrong. But to suggest calling the bus driver’s employer and have him possibly written up for an unpreventable situation is ridiculous.

          • Devil's Advocate August 21, 2014, 2:31 pm

            I apologize for my spelling mistakes, obviously typing fast on a small screen.

            Should read: Here are our options

          • Vermin8 August 22, 2014, 9:49 am

            1) Call the bus dispatch (I’m assuming he has a radio or phone on board) and let them know of a delay due to a mother leaving her kids on the bus without her.
            2) If she’s not back by then call the police about abandoned children.

            This is presuming that she didn’t tell him why she was running back into the store. If she did, then he should have said “ma’am, I can’t wait, you will have to either stay on the bus or deboard with your children.”

          • Miss_Calliope August 22, 2014, 11:05 pm

            My mum is a bus driver and the response I am sure she would have is different from all your suggestions. Upon the mother turning and getting off the bus after depositing her children, mum would call out to her that she cannot leave her children unattended and hold up the bus – any response (“Oh, I’m just…”) would be met with “No, you’re just abandoning your children and if you don’t return now, the police will be called.” If the mother continued away, the bus doors would be closed, and would continue on its journey, with a call being put through to the depot to contact police and report abandoned children, and arrange for police to meet the bus at the next major stop to collect them.

            My mum has to deal with all manner of rude, aggressive, violent and entitled passengers who seem to think that they are more important than all the others currently on, and soon to board the bus, and yes more often than not it is parents who seem to think the world should applaud their ability to breed – blocking walkways and wheelchair access with prams that they refuse to fold up, allowing their children to terrorise other passengers, etc.

            Delaying a bus due to your own disorganisation is extremely rude and inconsiderate to the other passengers, and also to the driver – a five minute delay would be the difference between an opportunity to stop, stretch legs and use the toilet, or having to rush directly to the next run (which could be hours long).

            By not addressing the problem with this rude passenger, the driver in the story has set a precedent, and I wonder what liberties she would be likely to take next time.

        • Lenore August 21, 2014, 3:02 pm

          How does reporting the driver solve the problem? What was he supposed to do, boot the kids off the bus (and possibly get the company sued)? Drive off (and possible get the company sued)? Get off the bus and look for the mom (and possibly delay things even more by looking for her)? Call the store on his personal phone (assuming he’s allowed to have it on his person while driving)? Getting the driver into trouble because a passenger was an inconsiderate twit is not the best solution.

        • Buggurl August 21, 2014, 3:21 pm

          I’m with the “she was rude and selfish to do this” contingent, but I don’t think the driver is at fault at all–was he supposed to put the children out on the curb and drive away? Agreed, it is NOT his job to watch a passenger’s children while they run back in the store, but if he’d put the kids on the curb, and then one of them ran into traffic and was injured or worse, how would he feel then? And, would he lose his job because a passenger got injured? The backlash to the driver would have been undeserved in that situation, and it’s not deserved now.

          The mother put the bus driver in a no-win situation, and the common sense response was to wait for the mother to come back, regardless of what the “correct etiquette” response should have been, i.e., drive off and leave them to avoid inconveniencing others. I’m betting she didn’t really give him much of a choice in the matter, and just hopped back off the bus while yelling she would be back in a minute.

        • Steve August 21, 2014, 5:01 pm

          Did the driver call the police? No. As the OP clarified, no one had any idea whether this woman would be gone for a minute or an hour. If young children are abandoned on a bus, the driver is obligated to call the police.

          Did he reprimand her when she returned? No– not in any of the comments where the OP clarifies the story.

          There is no indication he treated this as a problem at all. At minimum, a little retraining is in order.

          • Lenore August 22, 2014, 6:01 am

            Considering that a lot of companies have the attitude of “the customer is ALWAYS right”, I highly doubt that the bus driver’s company will tell him to do anything other than pander to the customer.

            Furthermore, you are now projecting the issue onto the driver, and not the inconsiderate mother. If you were in that situation, what would you have done?

            Reprimanding the mother would have caused drama and maybe even a screaming match (or worse). As for calling the police, that would have resulted in an even *longer* delay, as you would then have to wait for the police to arrive, take statements from everyone, maybe request the video footage from the bus CCTV (if there is one).

            Thus far, none of your suggestions have any real world merit.

          • Steve August 22, 2014, 7:44 am

            Lenore, I am going to have to unfortunately overrule your assessment quite decisively. City buses are run by the municipal authorities, not private consumer companies competing for retail customers on the open market. They most certainly do not have a “customer is always right “attitude. Bus driver conduct is micromanaged by a large number of very specific regulations–dictating how far from a stop they may pick up passengers, whether they can carry cell phones on their person, what to do in case of an emergency, etc. They also deal with a plethora of safety rules, some for their own protection against the passengers and others for the protection of the passengers themselves. Very young unaccompanied children need to be reported. I encourage anyone interested in this to Google around for stories about incidents that have occurred on their own city’s bus system. Often these stories describe the regulations that govern city bus drivers, point out infractions, and spotlight holes in the processes.

            Whatever the local procedure in the story, sit and wait for a passenger to finish her shopping is certainly not one of the steps. The bus driver should have called out to her as soon as she started to leave the bus without her children, demanding that she return or he would call the police. Then, he should have followed up on that threat. Drivers can call the police through their dispatcher. After she returned, he could have canceled the call if he desired so he could continue on his route. But at minimum, he should have instructed the woman that her behavior was not permissible. Bus drivers instruct passengers on their behavior all the time.

        • Joy August 21, 2014, 8:25 pm

          I will say unless you have gone through the mess of getting cards cancelled and new ones ordered, a new id card, and the mirad of other things that are in our wallets that might need replacing very well might send someone into a total panic. We do not know what she did prior to the store, perhaps an important appointment so the bubble gum might have been a treat for behaving during the errand. How do you know she did not apologize to the driver? I would not do this, however I can very much see someone having a freak out and forgettting ones senses. What if the children were replaced by an elderly parent?

          • Joshua August 26, 2014, 12:44 am

            If the mom realized that she had left her wallet in the store, she should have taken the kids off the bus and taken the kids back into the store with her, then waited for the next bus.

            Apologizing to the driver is not enough; the mom also needed to apologize to all of the other passengers who were on the bus, as well as all the passengers at later stops who were picked up late.

            And if the children were replaced with an elderly parent? I hope that in that case, the bus would have driven off with the elderly parent on board, and let the elderly parent leave at the appropriate stop (with assistance in disembarking being offered if necessary).

      • Jaxsue August 22, 2014, 9:53 am

        Thanks for the details, OP.

  • myfamily August 21, 2014, 9:55 am

    I absolutely think this woman was incredibly rude. When I used to take the bus regularly, a 5 minute delay could add an extra hour to the entire trip due to hitting more traffic (I figured out which bus I could take that would be at the beginning of the morning rush traffic, so we’d basically miss it).

    If the woman just ran back to the store to grab her bags, how was she going to carry her bags and deal with her kids when the bus dropped her off? Was she going to carry her bags into her home and then come back for her kids?

    Obviously, we don’t know her situation, but I can’t believe that her only option was to do something that was so rude and frankly stupid by leaving her kids on the bus. Just one person on the bus calling the police and letting them know could have opened up a world of trouble for her.

  • DGS August 21, 2014, 10:22 am

    Sorry, am Mom of 2 under 5, no excuse for this woman’s rude and more importantly, dangerous behavior. You don’t put your children on the bus (in the train, in a car), etc., and run off to the store, even if it’s just to grab your groceries.

  • Kirst August 21, 2014, 10:57 am

    The woman was selfish and rude but I can’t get on board with the “paedophiles lurking on every bus” mindset.

    • Cat August 21, 2014, 1:21 pm

      It’s not that a pervert in on every bus or in every classroom or in every church. It is that they are found on public transport ,in classrooms, and in churches.
      Every day we read about children being snatched. The Amish parents thought their girls were safe manning the family fruit stand. The mom who let her little girl play with the boy next door never dreamed the child’s corpse would be found under the boy’s bed. The Country Walk parents in Miami, FL, never dreamed that they were leaving their little ones in the hands of a monster every day.
      We all wish we did not have to get on board with the mindset that our children are in danger both from strangers and from those we consider friends or family, but it is better to be afraid of fire than to pretend it’s not dangerous and be burned.

      • Library Diva August 21, 2014, 3:46 pm

        We read about it every day because 24-hour news networks need new content and these stories are sensational and easy to cover. Uncovering the fact that a city’s sewage sludge incineration contract went to the mayor’s fraternity brother despite multiple safety violations at his plant takes work. But a missing child? The police department’s spokesperson does the bulk of the work for you, and you can do the rest by interviewing neighbors who will tell you all about that van they saw in the area three weeks ago, “experts” who will regurgitate facts cribbed from the FBI’s website and cast in a hysterical light (sometimes to sell products that can aid you in case your own kid gets abducted), etc.

        You can fill tons of air time or column inches that way, so most major media outlets do it, and the end result is that you’re “always hearing about kidnappings.” There are actually relatively few stranger abductions each year. Most of the missing children you hear about are listed as missing due to a custody dispute.

        The danger to those kids didn’t come from the other passengers. It came from the fact that they’re not really old enough to be left alone on a bus. They’re still at the age where you can’t even leave a bottle of Windex out because they will drink it, and you have to watch them carefully when they eat so they don’t put the peas up their nose — again. And you’re going to trust them alone on a bus?

      • Tracy W August 22, 2014, 4:49 am

        How many children die on the roads each year?
        Do you stop driving, or walking, or catching the bus, for all but the most vital journeys?

        • Cat August 22, 2014, 8:59 am

          Well, no, Tracy, but do you allow your toddler to walk alone in the street, sit in the car without restraints, or take a bus unsupervised? If you do, you are going to be arrested for child neglect and your children placed in foster care.
          When you become a parent, you take on certain responsibilities and protecting your children is one of the most important. You can’t allow them to put your keys in the electrical outlet so they can “see what happens”. Too many girls have children so “someone will love me” without considering the responsibility of a child. That’s why we have so many children in foster care.

          • Kirst August 22, 2014, 11:14 am

            Most children who are hurt or killed are hurt or killed by their parents, family members or other people close to them. By the law of averages, they’re safer on a bus with strangers than with their family. This “there are evil people waiting to snatch children everywhere” attitude is nonsense – they are far more likely to be killed in a car.

  • mark August 21, 2014, 10:58 am

    I don’t know about anyone else, but casually depending on complete strangers to look out for the safety of my small children isn’t happening.

  • Marie August 21, 2014, 11:01 am

    I think she’s lucky no one called Child Services to report two abandoned children.

  • Yet Another Laura August 21, 2014, 11:36 am

    If she was just going back to grab that last bag, she’d have most likely said something, “Sorry, can you please hold? I have one thing and it’s just inside the door.” Dash in, dash out, no time for the kidlets to get around to talking to the bus driver. The kids would also be in sight of mama while grabbing that last bag. I doubt very much that was the case.

    If the kids were having a conversation with the driver, this had to have lasted at least five minutes. That’s a lot of idling time for the cars backed up behind the bus. That’s a lot of wasted gas for anyone driving a conventional engine car. This wasn’t just inconveniencing people, it was costing people money.

    Most stores, if you ask, will have assistance available to carry packages and I have yet to see a grocery store without carts.

    No question, the mom was rude.

  • lakey August 21, 2014, 11:38 am

    First, leaving kids with strangers.
    Second, expecting everyone on the bus, plus the driver to wait for her.
    Third, interfering with the flow of traffic because the bus is at the stop longer than usual.
    Fourth, messing up the bus schedule.
    Sorry if it’s difficult to shop with children, but that doesn’t give her free rein to inconvenience everyone else. If she can’t carry her purchases and handle the kids, maybe she should get one of those lightweight collapsible baggage carts. As a teacher I used them all the time when I had to carry a lot of stuff.

  • NicoleK August 21, 2014, 11:53 am

    I’ve never heard of someone holding up a bus while they ran and got things from the store…

    … was she expecting the kids to ride home alone? Yeah it seems young but depending what culture the lady is from, there certainly are places where small kids can and do ride public transit.

    I’m not sure which scenario we are talking about here, so it’s hard to comment, but if she was holding up the bus to run her errand, then the kid thing is not really relevant, it’s just rude.

  • NicoleK August 21, 2014, 11:56 am

    For the record, stranger abductions are very, very rare, so I think we can discount crazy kidnappers abducting the kids on the bus. Abductions and violent crimes against kids and also in general are way, way down, they were much higher in the 70s and 80s and even then they weren’t very high.

    • Lizajane August 21, 2014, 3:47 pm

      But they DO happen and there are victims and families attached to those statistics, no matter how low they seem.

    • Wild Irish Rose August 21, 2014, 4:42 pm

      Not gonna depend on statistics to keep my kids safe, if it’s all the same to you.

      • Cat August 22, 2014, 9:04 am

        The fact that it doesn’t happen very often doesn’t matter much to you when it is your child who is taken.
        I can remember back to Eisenhower being elected president for the first time; and I’d like to see the statistics that prove abductions and violent crimes against children are way down from the 1970’s and 1980’s. I taught from 1971 until 2001; and I never found that to be true.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith August 21, 2014, 12:51 pm

    No one should hold up a bus by using their children, (or pets, or spouse, or friend) to detain the people inside even if the children are charming and able to distract the driver. Is it a federal crime? Probably not. But it is entitled and I don’t blame OP for preferring that the trip proceed without delay. And the driver should have made quite a point of removing the children from the bus and having a word with the lady about the company’s policies regarding unaccompanied children before driving off (ideally without her, but I suppose that would be impractical in that she’d pitch a fit). But calling her behavior out publicly isn’t over the top in this instance, even if it does result in a bit more delay. She might be less likely to pull the same stunt again.

  • Mer August 21, 2014, 1:18 pm

    I agree with the others that the level of Ehell this will land depends lot of the situation. Was it a run for 3 meters over a slightly wider sidewalk “plaza” to the doors of the store to pick up the bags she could not carry at the same time as the kids, and took 30 seconds. Or was it more like cashier is still checking out the stuff, taking the payment and bagging all of it. And was the bus running once in 10 minutes or once in an hour.

    If this is the first case, I don’t think it’s that rude. That would not really take any more time than loading a wheelchair from the middle doors, which is just normal practice. Irresponsible yes, to leave the kids alone (though she might have known the buss driver). The second case? Outrageous.

    I think there are two points though. All we know that we should do our best that the bus can be on time, not holding it up for nothing. However, as a passengers, we should also realize, that it is public transportation in varying traffic conditions. It may sometimes take longer for any reason. If you cannot be late, you should use earlier connection. The “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine” works both ways in this case. If you are late because elderly man took a while to get on the bus, it was not the man’s fault, it was yours. But, as said, both ways.

    And I know how annoying it is, and I hate to miss connection because bus was waiting for someone who was running late to bus stop. But yet I still hope that the bus waits the few extra seconds. Because, they might be running from other connection. They might be going to shopping or their mothers deathbed. I don’t know. But I still think it’s decent thing to do.

  • Lerah99 August 21, 2014, 1:47 pm

    Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!

    The Letter Writter added a clarification in the comments that makes a huge difference.

    She says:
    “Mother and kids boarded the bus. Mother remembered that she’d left her wallet in the store. Mother left her kids on the bus, and went back into the store”

    So the mother and kids are getting on the bus. The mother gets ready to pay the fare and suddenly realizes she left her wallet in the store.

    Then she runs back to the store to get her wallet.

    I can understand a freaked out mom realizing she left her wallet in a convenience store making such a rash decision as to leave the kids on the bus while she ran back to the store to get her wallet.

    • Cora August 21, 2014, 2:33 pm

      Except that leaving the children on the bus and making the bus wait for her to go get the wallet was still rude. Even if a little freaked out, she ought to have apologized to the bus driver (Oh! I’m sorry; I just realized I left my wallet in the store”), taken her kids off the bus, gone back into the store with her children to get the wallet, and waited for the next bus.

      • Joy August 21, 2014, 8:17 pm

        How do we know she did not apologize to the driver? Op did she say anything at all to the driver?

    • A different Tracy August 21, 2014, 2:43 pm

      That does change things, but if it truly took 5 minutes for her to retrieve her wallet, it sure sounds like she didn’t hurry. It also sounds like she didn’t apologize when she got back on the bus.

      • hakayama August 21, 2014, 9:30 pm

        Missing wallet DOES NOT change things. It’s highly unlikely that the store clerk/owner stood in the doorway with the wallet, just waiting for its owner to come and claim it. More likely, it took some time to explain/describe/request the return of the property.
        Sheesh! You just don’t leave your children, or anyone’s children, unattended even to reclaim the crown jewels.
        So sad that airheads like the mother in the story not only bear children, they also bring them up.

        • A different Tracy August 22, 2014, 2:04 pm

          To me it changes things because it wasn’t intentional. I have sympathy for a woman who gets on the bus and THEN realizes she left her wallet. I have no sympathy for a woman who PLANS to leave her small children on the bus to “hold her place” while she retrieves her things from the store. Now, I still think she should have taken her children and let the bus go, once she realized she’d left her wallet. But it wasn’t a deliberate act to stall the bus, and that makes a difference to me.

          • Sura September 30, 2014, 2:14 pm

            Leaving the wallet wasn’t intentional. Leaving the kids on the bus forcing it to wait was.

    • Library Diva August 21, 2014, 3:49 pm

      Wow, I totally missed that. I agree with you, then.

    • Kiki August 21, 2014, 3:55 pm

      It still doesn’t make any difference in my opinion. Once she realized she lost her wallet, she should have taken the children off of the bus and gone back to find it. She still took approximately 5 minutes to find her wallet and get back on the bus, leaving people wondering as to what was happening. As a bus rider with 20 years of experience in the type of bus system that the OP describes, she could have gone back to the store with the children and caught the next bus instead of making a stranger watch her kids while she went back to find her wallet. The fact that this took 5 minutes makes me question whether she was also purchasing something small (and therefore unseen) as well.

      • Joy August 21, 2014, 8:16 pm

        or perhaps the wallet was placed in a locked office as is often done and what she thought would take 30 seconds took much longer. Why must we all jump to the conclusion she was being a rude twit before applying logic to this story. While I would not have ever left my kids I can see where a 30 second dash turns into a longer time period not by Mom’s choice.

        • Steve August 21, 2014, 11:25 pm

          It was entirely by mom’s choice, since she always had the option to retrieve the children from the bus. Which she should have done.

          • Jaxsue August 22, 2014, 12:05 pm

            This. She shoukd have taken the kids off the bus as soon as she realized she was missing her wallet.

    • JJ August 21, 2014, 5:36 pm

      I sympathise with her but I still think she could have caught the next bus. She didn’t need to hold the whole bus up for over five minutes or more. She should have realized and went oh my god I forgot my wallet come one kids we will catch the next bus we have to go back. Other people have places to be and bus connections to make they can’t be held there while mom gets herself organised because she was forgetful. That’s like expecting a bus to turn around when its already on its journey to the destination because you forgot something at home you needed. Then you get off the bus and you go home and get it and catch the next bus. You don’t make the whole bus and the other passengers have to wait for you to go back and get what you forgot. If buses run on a half hour schedule she could have waited with the kids for the next schedule bus to come by.

  • WMK August 21, 2014, 2:53 pm

    This situation bothers me most because I would be concerned about the children’s safety.

  • Renee August 21, 2014, 2:55 pm

    I lived in Chicago for 26 years. Took the bus a lot with my daughter. There is nothing worse than seeing a bus pull up and you are stuck inside a store paying for your groceries. Been there done that. I would never ever put my daughter on a bus to run back in a store. It’s not a matter of etiquette. It’s a matter of my child’s safety. What in the world was this lady thinking? People who assume everyone is their babysitter annoys me.

    I have a few friends that drive for the CTA. They are on a tight schedule. Often there are managers keeping track of their arrival on certain stops. One inconsiderate person can cause a major issue for the driver. The drivers are required to be at certain stops at a particular time. Sometimes they are switching drivers during the route which is another time sensitive matter. The lady was very inconsiderate.

    • Jaxsue August 22, 2014, 12:06 pm

      Cannot agree more.

  • RC August 21, 2014, 5:01 pm

    Oh, this is going to be an inappropriate joke, but I just cannot contain it (apologies in advance if I offend anyone):

    Maybe the Mom was autistic!

    • otter August 22, 2014, 1:23 am

      ….first of all, I don’t get the joke at all. And secondly, that really strikes me as the kind of joke that would be best to tell to people you personally know – because to a complete stranger (me), i actually internally cringed a bit. Kind of a conversation killer. Isn’t that a thing with comedians – know your audience? That’s good advice for any potentially offensive humor.

      • Charliesmum August 22, 2014, 7:58 am

        The joke was because when someone does something that is rude, and it is mentioned on this site, many times the ‘maybe they are autistic’ thing comes up; especially if it a social type situation.

        No offense was intended to Autistic people; it was a joke about commenters on this site.

        • Jaxsue August 22, 2014, 9:56 am

          RC is right; the autistic thing is bound to come up sooner or later. And, as a parent of a son with autism, I’m not offended by the comment.

        • otter August 22, 2014, 10:28 am

          I’m not offended, but it still wouldn’t be something i wuld say in a group I didn’t know well.

          • Jaxsue August 22, 2014, 12:07 pm

            Otter, are you on the community boards on EH much? If you are, you’d know that the “spectrum” thing comes up regularly.

        • Sura September 30, 2014, 2:18 pm

          Ha I’ve seen the same thing joked about in the comments to certain advice columns: anyone who behaves badly on a date or in a relationship probably did so because he/she’s autistic

    • Vermin8 August 22, 2014, 9:54 am

      I get it and it’s funny.

      • Anonymous August 22, 2014, 9:00 pm

        I also get it, and I also think it’s funny.

  • Marozia August 21, 2014, 5:09 pm

    Sadly, this seem to happen a lot. I wonder what would’ve happened if someone kidnapped those children?
    One of our bus drivers on our route is a Cockney, and is as tough a old boots. A woman hailed our bus down, was ready to get on, then decided she wanted to get bottled water. Our driver told her off, about having no time for her shopping, shut the doors and drove off. And quite right, too! Our guys have to stick to a schedule.

  • EllenS August 21, 2014, 6:08 pm

    There’s a dynamic going on in the comments that I see a lot, and puzzles me. It’s as if there are only 2 possible answers, either a) she was extremely rude and foolish, or b) she was having a bad day/sudden problem.

    Why not c) Both. I can sympathize with her situation, and still think what she did was rude.

    • B August 22, 2014, 1:32 am

      Why does everyone assume she was having a bad day just because she left her wallet in the store? Why must she be so harried because she has 2 young children? Are no parents of young children ever allowed to be happy/not stressed/having a wonderful time anymore?

      She might have had a fantastic day but then left her wallet and left her children while she went back to get it. Still cannot imagine my mother or me leaving my children on a bus alone while I ran off for something and held up traffic. Money isn’t as important to me as their safety.

      • EllenS August 23, 2014, 2:42 pm

        I think going to pay bus fare and realizing you don’t have your wallet, makes a pretty bad day. It’s still rude, but I think a majority of rudeness in this world results from sudden short-circuitry of the brain, and ordinary failures of good choices, rather than from some premeditated intention to be nasty to other people. Both exist, but I think the thoughtless/clueless is more prevalent than malice.

  • starstruck August 21, 2014, 6:44 pm

    i would have to wonder about the kind of mother who would leave her kids alone when they are that young in public. and lord only knows who rides public transportation. you are 100 percent reasonable to think that way. not to mention her holding up the entire bus. but the fact that the kids were so comfortable with this ( you said they talking to the bus driver like nothing was wrong) leads me to believe she probably leaves them alone quit frequently.

  • Angel August 21, 2014, 7:47 pm

    This scenario is just wrong on so many levels. Dangerous to the kids, inconvenient and also compromises the bus schedule. But sadly I am not even surprised. We live in a world where some parents feel entitled to hold other people up or waste other people’s time–all because they can’t get their stuff together beforehand. Then use the kids as convenient excuse. Newsflash: you are not the first parent to ever have to take kids on a bus! If they are small children you plan beforehand to just get a small load, and come out of the store with ALL the bags so you can board the bus together. If the kids are too little to hold a bag, tough–get less stuff so the parent can carry it all. Truly it isn’t all that hard. The nerve of some people!

  • Anonymouse August 21, 2014, 8:14 pm

    The woman was inconsiderate and thoughtless, yes. Poor planning on her part, and arguably putting her children in danger. She definitely could have handled the situation better, but I’m not quite ready to throw her to e-Hell yet. With the “missing” parts that have been revealed by OP in the comments (she went back to get her missing wallet, she was only gone a couple minutes, etc.) I don’t believe this was entitled behaviour so much as a frazzled mom who made a mistake… Maybe just e-Heck instead?

    As to the argument that she was holding up traffic and possibly making people late: True, this was an unnecessary delay, but anyone who takes the bus regularly knows that there are going to be unexpected delays. Some of these are for good reasons, such as a wheelchair user being loaded into the bus. Some of these are for less good reasons, such as a woman who can’t pay the fare screaming at the driver for five minutes because he won’t let her drive for free. Delays in traffic can cause the bus to run late, same with weather (especially when there’s four feet of snow on the ground). Anyone who rides the bus regularly should be aware that delays happen and plan accordingly. If this means taking a bus that gets you there 30 min. early, rather than 5, bring a book and enjoy the downtime.

    Same goes for traffic. Accidents, bus delays, emergency services needing the road, construction, break downs etc. all pop up and drivers need to plan for them, or at least be aware that they might come up (if driving to an urgent situation). Once again, some of these are understandable, such as a train (let’s face it, train schedules are not in most people realm of knowledge). Some of them are due to others entitled attitudes, such as jaywalkers. It would be lovely if traffic just ran perfectly and no one was ever stuck in traffic ever, but that is unfortunately never going to be the world we live in.

    Whether you drive or take the bus (I do both, depending on where I’m going), if you fail to plan for traffic, you being late is no one’s fault but your own.

    • PJ August 22, 2014, 9:07 am

      I completely agree. The mother absolutely made poor choices in the moment. No question about that.

      Anyone taking the bus has to acknowledge that there are delays for all kinds of reasons, including innocent or unavoidable problems as well as entitled people who take 3 minutes to scream at the driver. Allowing yourself so little margin with the bus that a five minute delay will double your commute/miss your exam/be late for the doctor/lose your job then you have severely failed to plan.

      While the mother is responsible for the delay she caused and owed everyone an apology, she is not responsible for anyone else’s cutting-it-too-close with their own timing.

      • Steve August 22, 2014, 11:27 am

        Again, I keep seeing the interesting assumption that anyone who was late after this episode is guilty of poor planning. I see no evidence even suggesting this.

        I have taken public transportation more times than I care to remember. A single delay of more than five minutes is a very unusual occurrence. Rarely does a bus sit in traffic for that long without moving at all, and never does it take that long to wait for a running passenger or disabled person to get on board. No one should be expected to take such delays into account. Few people live lives of such leisure that they can estimate their trip, add time for a margin of error, and then randomly plop on another half hour or hour just in case.

        • Anonymous August 22, 2014, 8:57 pm

          “Leave earlier” wasn’t an option for me. I wasn’t going from home; I was coming home FROM the gym, after Zumba class, which starts and ends at a specific time. I didn’t need to get home urgently or anything; I was just wondering if I was being rude for being silently annoyed at this woman putting her kids on the bus, running back into the store, and holding everyone up for at least five minutes. Some say yes, I was, and others say no, I wasn’t. I don’t live “such a life of leisure”–I’m not retired or anything; I’m a yoga instructor. So, I’m often working at times when others are having fun (weekday evenings, weekend mornings, etc.), so I end up doing my own errands, stuff around the house, and participating in fitness classes myself during the normal 9-5 business hours.

          • Anonymous August 22, 2014, 8:58 pm

            P.S., Just to clarify, I’m not complaining–I love my job; I was just clearing up why I wasn’t at work in the middle of a weekday.

        • Anonymouse August 23, 2014, 2:34 pm

          We live in very different cities then, as it’s not unusual for my bus to be 10 minutes late to my stop, or more. Even if no one delays the bus for five minutes in one go, those little one or two minute delays can add up. And yes, there are situations where planning ahead is not easy, but simply assuming a PUBLIC transit, which caters to hundreds if not thousands of other people who will cause delays, is going to run exactly on schedule and there will never be problems ever, makes you a fool.

          If you can’t plan to be somewhere early and there are delays, call ahead to where you’re going and let them know about the situation (I called in to work several times when my bus was late and I was going to get in 15 min. or so after my shift started, as I was going straight to work from school), or if you can’t be late try and alternate form of transportation (such as a taxi or a ride from a friend). To cut things so close that a five minute delay will ruin your day, whether driving or taking public transit, is your fault, not the fault of the rest of the world.

          I’m not giving the woman a pass here, I’ll cut her some slack because it seems to be a one time thing, but that’s it. Delaying the bus intentionally is rude, but expecting the bus to run exactly on time and never be delayed is ridiculous.

        • Anonymouse August 23, 2014, 3:12 pm

          I also say that bus commuters may need to plan to be there a half hour early because sometimes those are your options. You take the bus that will get you to your destination late if there are delays (5 minutes early) or you take the one that will get you there on time no matter what happens (30 minutes early). Nowhere do I say you need to plan for delays THEN tack on an extra half hour. 30 minutes is your margin of error because that’s how public transit works.

          The way the bus routes work in most small-medium cities, the half hour IS your just in case planning.

          As for whether that constitutes living a “life of leisure,” I can’t say. I will say that most people I know don’t plan events so close to each other that they are in a constant rush to get to their next location. Sometimes scheduling things tight is unavoidable, but most people I know incorporate enough time into their commute that they aren’t late for everything. Constant back to back scheduling is not the norm.

        • crebj August 24, 2014, 9:24 am

          You’ve led a charmed life in public transportation. Due to road construction, the bus I take daily sits in traffic for up to 10 minutes at a time. An unprepared passenger doesn’t get a lot of etiquette points from fellow riders. (A disabled passenger gets a break: the lifts move only so fast.)

    • k2 August 22, 2014, 12:41 pm

      I have to (politely) disagree about how making the bus wait for five minutes (a “couple of minutes” in your words) is enough to give the mom a pass.

      I ride a streetcar line in my city that is quite long; recently the city did a study that found out if a streetcar was even held up at a particular stop for a “couple of minutes” by traffic or what have you, that would balloon into upwards of twenty or thirty minutes late at stops down the line. So if this bus is remotely similar, not only was mom inconveniencing the passengers on the bus, she was inconveniencing those waiting for the bus at stops further along the route.

      If you fail to plan for traffic while commuting, the onus lies on you, I definitely agree with that but what the mom did does not fall under those random, unpredictable but expected delays that could slow a commute down. She knowingly mad everyone else on the bus and who was waiting for the bus wait for her, because she could not be bothered to wait for the next bus (and I say this as someone who has been taking transit alone since I was ten and have missed many a bus because I didn’t get to the stop on time).

      • Anonymouse August 23, 2014, 2:45 pm

        I think we can definitely be friends here, k2. I’m also not willing to give the mom a pass. What she did was rude, I just don’t agree with the idea that it was entitled behaviour. I’m willing to bet (although admittedly I wasn’t there), that if the bus driver had asked her to take a different course of action, such as taking the kids off and waiting, or going back for the wallet another time, she would have done so.

        She acted without thinking of how her actions affected others, and the bus driver allowed it. Both were inconsiderate and therefore rude, but neither were entitled.

        As for the bus delay, most city transits will have “backup” buses that they can send out if a route is falling behind, so people aren’t 20-30 minutes late for their stuff. They do this because they know delays add up. Additionally, while buses tend to be delayed during peak time, they can often catch up after those times when traffic is a little lighter and they can breeze by 10 stops in a row because nobody is there. That’s why most people recommend being at the stop five minutes before the bus arrives, because if they are having a good day they might be there early! Not really disagreeing with you, but it’s interesting to note.

    • Anonymous August 26, 2014, 7:48 am

      Anonymouse, I know all that–I’ve been taking public transit since I was twelve, and I often have to plan to be half an hour early, because the only other option is to be late. I wasn’t even going anywhere time-sensitive when that mother held up the bus, but I still think she was being rude.

      • Anonymouse August 29, 2014, 6:07 pm

        I never said she wasn’t. We can be friends here, Anonymous.

    • Sura September 30, 2014, 2:36 pm

      Is “E-hell” a physical place from which an individual may never return? I thought it was simply a metaphor for saying that someone behaved rudely. Wouldn’t you say that a person guilty of the following was “rude”?

      -Was inconsiderate and thoughtless
      -Could have handled the situation better (i.e., had a choice)
      -[Caused] an unnecessary delay

      You say this woman did not have an “entitled” attitude because she was “frazzled and made a mistake,” but refer later to”entitled attitudes, such as jaywalkers.” Anyone who crosses a street not at the corner does so out of entitlement, but not someone who leaves her kids on a bus in an effort to force it to wait for her? How would you define “entitlement”? I define it as breaking the rules to avoid the fair or normal consequences of living in society at the expense of other fair-players. I.e., making others pay for your mistake.

      • Anonymouse January 24, 2015, 5:58 pm

        Sorry, the first comment ended WAY pre-maturely.

        Jaywalkers are entitled because 9/10 times, they are thinking clearly enough to see the other options and could take them just as easily, but CHOOSE not to. They are breaking the rules with the INTENTION of inconveniencing others for their own sake. That intention is something I feel the mother in this story is missing.

        By all the criteria you mention, yes, she was rude. I do not feel, however, she was trying to inconvenience others. As far as I can tell, she did not think she had other options, and it appears as though the driver allowed her to do this (implying, at least to her, that she was not breaking the rules at all).

        Was she rude? Yes. Entitled? I don’t think so.

  • AD August 22, 2014, 1:33 am

    Been there, done that. I’ve been a single mom, with groceries and a bus ride and a small child, twice over. I would not have left either of my children alone on the bus to go get my wallet. Groceries are packed into a backpack and light bags were given to the kid, and I made damn sure I had my wallet, because without my bus pass, I couldn’t get home. If I missed one, I had no choice but to sit and wait for the next, because it had been my fault for not being out there on time. What about dealing with a fretful child, you say? I brought a book and kept them entertained with clapping and counting games and pointing out the wonders of nature, like a flock of geese, or the way clouds passing over the sun throw moving shadows. The time will pass, no matter what. It’s your decision how you spend it. It’s not my place to tell anyone how to parent, but I don’t even let my daughter, now 16 and generally accompanied by her boyfriend, out on the porch after dark. Given this neighborhood and the crazies that have approached them twice (And one who drunkenly groped my husband), it’s stupid to even THINK leaving a child of ANY age in a surrounding you do not know FOR SURE to be safe, actually will be. TL;DR- Bad girl!!!

  • NostalgicGal August 22, 2014, 6:21 am

    I used to commute via bus regularly, in ugly weather and not, with something called a ‘master driver’ tossed on your regular route now and again because they were having trouble with that one staying ‘on schedule’ and more. I will say I did my share of hide in a store and get my rear moving when I seen the bus coming to be there and meet it…

    I’m on both sides. If the woman literally plonked the kids down, got her rear moving and stepped in to just snag bags and get right back there… and the weather was hot/raining/snowing aka ugly; I can understand, especially with two small kids. If she took her time to accomplish this, no. (I’m talking 30 seconds to a minute, not 5 or more minutes!) If she had to go across a parking lot instead of a sidewalk, then she deserves the one way ticket to ehell. OP didn’t mention HOW LONG they waited.

    Driver can’t move if there are people in front of the standing line; sounds like that’s where she put the kids. Not really right what she did; someone else could have grabbed a kid or both and been off the other door on the bus in the time she turned her back, even the driver might not have been able to stop that. Not really right, can understand why, glad the kids are safe, and she’s lucky the driver didn’t order her off the bus when she returned. I really hope she doesn’t do this all the time, as someday some mix of trouble is going to happen. She should have had all shepherded to the stop and not made two trips (yes it’s possible and no I don’t advocate her leaving the kids on the corner) – there’s carts with wheels for groceries and parcels, I used to have one, and it was liftable onto most buses… at least in a few more years the kids hopefully will stay with her.

    • Marie August 22, 2014, 8:32 am

      OP clarified that it took at least five minutes.

    • Anonymous August 22, 2014, 10:23 am

      The convenience store was across a parking lot, and it was at least five minutes, maybe more. All I remember is the collective feeling of incredulity that this woman was holding up the entire bus, and the driver was okay with it.

      • NostalgicGal August 22, 2014, 5:04 pm

        Over 5, then the drivers I knew in urban metro transit would have put her and the kids off the bus. She would have gotten back to the bus to find the kids off the bus and bus gone; or driver calling social services/police department for abandoned kids and putting them off the bus as well.

        There wouldn’t have been 5 minutes of wait. Even the time I ran for a bus, tripped, flew through the air and bounced OFF the bus shelter then got up and retrieved my glasses and briefcase and got on the bus; ‘cost’ about 30 seconds. There were about 10 others that got on the bus; mostly full bus seen me trip-bounce-get UP and someone stood on the steps because it was a ‘Master Driver’ and made him wait. I got on and flashed pass and sat. Driver was NOT amused, I thanked other passengers; and I got off where I needed to.

        IF it had been a downtown business at sidewalk at the bus stop AND it was bad weather (snowing, raining bad, slush storm or really peeled hot; I could see her put kids on then grab bags. Aka 30-60 seconds. If it involved crossing a parking lot; she was out of line, no matter what the weather.

        Most bus routes I used to frequent would take close to an hour to make their entire loop. And 8-15 regular pickup stops (those listed with timings). And they were usually scheduled off to make the loop on time with traffic and time to load/unload figured in. Start adding even an extra minute per time stop and how far off are you in 15 stops?

        I’m afraid when I got home I would have called the bus company with the route number, stop/corner, time of day, and had a chat about the driver. If he was near the end of the run and on time he could maybe suck up 5-10 min; but most of the time things are timed so lean that that wouldn’t be possible. If I was going on a multibus trip and because of a hold like that I was going to miss connections; I wouldn’t be happy.

  • Raven August 22, 2014, 8:11 am

    I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this, but another aspect to consider is the bus driver. A friend of mine is a city bus driver, and she has told me more than once that bus drivers can get in trouble for not arriving at their stops according to the schedule. This woman left the bus driver in a difficult position, since him kicking the unsupervised kids off the bus is obviously not a safe option. It is possible that the “just five minutes” she needed caused problems for the bus driver and his job.

    • Cora August 22, 2014, 11:00 am

      Word to that; and also to Renee’s comment upthread. I also live in Chicago, and I’ve heard some awful stories about how bus drivers are treated, for no reason, and they’re usually very professional if not downright nice. My husband once took a Clark Street bus that stopped for a disabled woman in a wheelchair outside of a grocery store. While the bus driver greeted her and lowered the bus ramp for her to get on, she started yanging at him to go buy her a bottle of water from the store behind her, then yelled at him for saying no because her had a route to follow — all this while he’s getting her on the bus and secured by a strap into the wheelchair space! Sure, its a bus driver’s job to do a rider’s shopping for them. Argh.

      • EchoGirl August 22, 2014, 5:34 pm

        If you see something like that happen, it’s worth it to go to the bus company website and file a report detailing what you saw. That way if someone complains, there’s another account that tells what really happened.

  • Rieslingbamko August 22, 2014, 10:59 am

    When I read this I was very confused because I thought “toddler” was synonymous with “preschool age” but according to op they are not. hmmm

    • EllenS August 22, 2014, 10:14 pm

      Toddler usually denotes a child who is walking but not fully verbal, so anywhere from age 1 – 2.5 ish. Preschooler would be around 3-4 years old.

  • EchoGirl August 22, 2014, 2:41 pm

    The mother was incredibly inconsiderate. However, I can’t get on board (no pun intended) with those who blame the bus driver in whole or in part. My dad is a bus driver and I know from him how much crap they have to put up with without a whole lot of recourse. What could he reasonably have done? I’ve been on buses where the police were called for some reason (the one I remember was a guy who was carrying a pocketknife that was too big to be legally carried in our city) and the delay for that is much longer than that which the OP and fellow passengers experienced; once the mother got on, they would’ve had to sit around even longer waiting for the police to do their thing. If he’d driven off he might have gotten in trouble for kidnapping or something (not to mention freaking out two little kids by driving off without their mom).

    • EchoGirl August 22, 2014, 10:28 pm

      Adding to this, OP mentioned that the driver seemed “okay with [the delay]” more than once in the comment thread. I ask in all seriousness, where do you get that from? Most drivers try not to show passengers when they are agitated/upset, so what you took as the driver being okay with the situation might have really been the driver being upset but not letting people see it.

      • Anonymous August 23, 2014, 11:35 am

        Well, the bus driver could have told the mother that he wasn’t going to wait, and he wasn’t going to let her leave her children (both under five, by the looks of things) on the bus by themselves. It’s possible to remain calm, polite, and professional, but still say no.

        • EchoGirl August 25, 2014, 10:35 pm

          You stated in your story that you don’t know what he said; for all you know he tried to tell her she could not leave her kids on the bus and she did anyway. I’m not saying I know for sure what happened but since my dad started driving I became extra-conscious of people’s tendency to blame a driver for anything that goes wrong, no matter whose fault it actually is.

  • Enna August 23, 2014, 10:43 am

    Some people have criticised the mother here which I think is a bit harsh. She might have forgotten something and had to nip back to the store – it’s not ideal and it is careless but I wouldn’t say it was rude or being entitled. We are all human and make mistakes. My friend left her handbag on top of a car once and I got a all from a concerned member of the public who handed the bag along with phone, money keys etc into the police station.

    I think the OP here is more concerned about the mum leaving the children on their own. However it doesn’t matter if it is in a bus or a car in the car park it’s not a good idea. Children can be very accident prone and can also wonder off – they can be quite fast sometimes too. The mother made a careless mistake but thankfully nothing really bad happened. Did anyone ask the mother if she was okay? It was silly but not rude.

    People swearing, throwing things, smoking etc those are rude behaviours. When I was on the bus once with my sibling two other boys got on and started smoking. Me and sibling were teenagers at the time and a bit clueless at what to do as we didn’t want to start a fight. Afterwards we spoke to our parents who said we should have told the bus driver.

  • April August 23, 2014, 10:56 am

    I can’t believe no one thought that someone might just call the police! The mother left her children alone- how stupid can you be?

  • Ann August 25, 2014, 7:47 am

    I think the mom’s behavior was rude, and incredibly unsafe with regards to leaving two very small children on the bus alone. Even if the kids had been older, 7 and up or so, it’s still rude because she held up the bus schedule and the other people on the bus. She should have apologized, taken the kids off the bus and back to the store, and caught the next one or called a taxi.

    At first, I agreed with the bus driver going on and calling the police, but I realize that could open up a lot of problems for him or her. Maybe what he could have done is implore the mother to take her kids with her, and if she left anyway, immediately contact his dispatcher for help.

  • Amber August 25, 2014, 10:01 am

    Two very young children left on a busy bus with a bunch of strangers while the mom runs off? Surprised no one called the police. That’s a serious bit of negligence, and there’s no way that anyone aboard that bus would have known that the mother was “just nipping off” to grab something.

  • Mags August 26, 2014, 3:59 pm

    She shouldn’t have held up the bus, but it is possible that she had a panicky moment and made a poor decision and thought that it was only going to take ten seconds to run in and grab her wallet from where she had set it down. When it took longer than a few seconds, again, poor decision not to just get the kids off, but maybe clerk was telling her it would be one second to grab the wallet but then left her hanging. And after it did turn out to be a big delay, maybe the mom felt embarrassed and ashamed and instead of apologizing to the bus driver and other passengers, stuck her head down and didn’t say anything. As for leaving the kids on the bus — it is possible that she didn’t think of it as leaving them as placeholders but rather that she thought she could run in faster without them and it would inconvenience everyone the least (assuming that the bus was going to wait for her).

    As for danger to the kids — while it is possible that the one in a million stranger kidnapper was on the bus waiting for this opportunity to act when they would be seen by several witnesses, it is also possible for a child to get run over in a parking lot or shot in an armed robbery, so I find it kind of ludicrous to assume that the children were in grave danger on the bus but would have been completely safe while running through a parking lot.

    So overall, yes rude or off or what have you, but given what I read here, I think it’s just as likely that it was an unintentional rudeness/poor decision as an entitled rudeness, and I have sympathy for her. I am not perfect and sometimes find myself in that kind of panicky situation and don’t always make the best choice, and sometimes the best choice doesn’t even present itself to my mind.