Friday, October 16, 2009

Metro Workers Who Shine

Reader Sam has a good idea.

He writes:

"I really feel for the bus drivers of this city. The only press they ever get is bad press when most of them are hardworking, friendly people just trying to make a living. We tend to gloss over the countless times they'll do little things like wait an extra 15 seconds if they see you running down the street to catch the bus. Talk to any bus driver (and I know it's not S.O.P. to talk to the passengers), and they'll echo that sentiment. So I can understand why Metro employees have become very defensive as of late.

One morning a few months back, I left my wallet on the bus. About mid-morning, I got a surprise call from the driver (while on his break) telling me he had it. I got my wallet back later that day with everything still in it and sent in a commendation that night praising the driver.

Another time, I was touched by how our bus driver literally got off the bus with a blind passenger and walked her to her next bus stop in Adams Morgan. People never hear about these encounters, and I think that's why there has been a growing "Us vs. Them" mentality between Metro employees and passengers.

It would be nice if UnSuckDCMetro encouraged readers to send in some of these more positive experiences in some kind of weekly or monthly feature. It's important to bring attention to bad behavior to help stop it. But just as important is praising good behavior to help encourage it."

OK, Sam. We'll do that. This post, "Metro Workers Who Shine," will live on the right hand column, in the same place as "riders we hate," etc. Anyone who feels like a Metro employee went above and beyond can heap as much praise on them as they like in the comments. Be as specific as you can with when, where, who, what, why.

Other items:
In case you've been living under a rock for the past several months, there's more cell coverage at some stations (WAPO)

Your chance to tell Metro what you think should be done about the budget (Examiner)

How can Metro be more open and accountable (GGW)

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43 comments:

Anonymous said...

After the U2 concert, on the Blue Line back to DC, there was one really drunk passenger on the packed train. He was being obnoxious, so we got the drivers attention (we were in the first car) and the conductor warned him. Before we moved again, he went right back to being a jerk and the driver came back out and threw him off the bus. Granted it was as much the driver as everyone else yelling at him, but the employee was a class act and took a load of grief from that drunk for throwing him off without a thank you from any of us. It was nice to have an uncomfortable situation resolved by the Metro employee.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'll start. This morning, I took the red line in (which I rarely do) and was thoroughly entertained by the train operator, who managed to keep a constant hilarious yet informative upbeat chatter throughout the duration of my trip. Really had me in a good mood by the time I reached my stop. Then, I grabbed a 49 bus, which I also don't usually take, and when I got off at my stop, the driver told me to have a nice weekend. I don't know if folks will say these things go above and beyond, but frankly, it's the little things that count and I arrived at work this morning in a great mood for the first time all week, largely because my commute was enjoyable rather than excruciating. And, this was in spite of the fact that I was late due to my morning bus arriving late.

James said...

I don't want above and beyond. I want them to do their job. And for someone who's lived here for 4 years with no good stories to show for metro employees, that's pretty much all I can ask at this point. And since when did being decent strike anyone as 'above and beyond'? Sad.

Leeshe said...

@James: In DC, where everyone is cranky and rude, being decent IS going above and beyond.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. There are Metro employees out there who are truly wonderful. I've yet to encounter a metrobus driver who wasn't courteous and helpful, but this particular incident stands out. My first time riding a metrobus was a few years ago. I had no idea which stop was closest to my destination. I finally got up the nerve to ask the driver for help; after finding out which building I was going to, instead of telling me where the nearest stop was, she stopped directly in front of the building, just for me - even though it wasn't a bus stop! That simple extra step on her part really impressed me and made my day just a little easier.

Anonymous said...

There are lots of nice bus drivers - most of them are really nice and/or funny. I used to take the 42 all the time in DC & all the drivers were great. I take the 7's now in VA & alot of those drivers are great, too.

Anonymous said...

@James, it is sad. It's sad that you can't spot the everyday good in the rank-and-file employees.

I've lived in the area for five months, and have more good stories than I'll have room to write about. I regularly ride C8, J5, T2, and C4, and only once have had a really cranky driver; the rest have been pleasant and courteous, without fail. I also ride the Red a dozen times or more a week, and have sent in several commendation notes for operators who did their jobs well.

One in particular is a fellow named Donny, who drives a C8 most afternoons (departs White Flint about 4:45). He's pleasant, friendly, and polite, even in the face of a couple of regular customers who give him endless grief if he's even moments late, and one wheelchair-bound passenger who harangues him mercilessly nearly every time he rides.

It's been a rough time for Metro and its' employees, folks. There's no use making it any worse by bitching when things don't go just the way you think they should. Most Metro employees are trying to make a living, and support themselves and their family *just like you are.*

Swissmiss said...

I wrote a letter of commendation for a post office employee because he was so nice when I came to the counter. I made sure to give a copy to him also.

They transferred him shortly after! I don't know if there was a connection there or not.

Anonymous said...

This thread wasa good idea. In any organization there will be a quality spread - some outstanding folks, some rude, most in-between somewhere. METRO as a "business" does a lot of things wrong, but most of the prople are good people, just like you and me.

Christopher Hixson said...

I can vouch for the blind assistance. I was on a 36 headed to Friendship Heights, and the driver parked the bus and walked a blind passenger across the street to the Safeway.

He returned to a standing ovation from all the other passengers.

Anonymous said...

I would like to commend the driver who instead of peeing all over the bus where there was a chance of it sloshing around all over us, he instead had the decency to use a doritos bag. thank you for thinking of others.

Anonymous said...

One bright, shining example was the morning driver whose route passed my old digs. He knew I was a Cavs fan, so he'd always be sure to comment on the upcoming games. He was attending classes in the evening to finish his degree. Always wished everyone a great day as we headed to the Metro. He even stopped to say hi to me at a local Walmart one weekend. Just a really down-to-earth guy who was dedicated to his job and treating people by the Golden Rule.

Anonymous said...

Last night (Oct 28th), I was waiting for the 10:50pm 3E Bus at Rosslyn, when a random drunk guy struck up a conversation with me. I was pretty uncomfortable but was in a public place so i just tried to be pleasant until the bus showed up.

When the bus arrived, I chose a seat the the man sat down next to me and continued to talk to me, and I guess I was making it plain that i was uncomfortable because I could see the driver checking on me every few minutes. At one point the man started trying to whisper things in my ear, and finally the bus driver called him out on it. The man started an argument with the driver who immediately pulled the bus over and told the man that as long as I was on his bus, I was his responsibility and if the man continued to make me feel uncomfortable or threatened, then he was going to kick the man off of the bus.

The man immediately stopped talk to me, although he continued to sit next to me.

Thank to this metro worker who helped me feel a little safer last night!

Anonymous said...

Bravo to Metro Kiosk worker at Mt Vernon Sq/Conv Ctr stop who accompanied me to the top of the escalator and pointed me in the right direction to my Halloween party. Thank you kind sir!

Anonymous said...

I wanted to add a comment and compliment the red line operator around 6:30 PM (yea I know, guess which one?) from Shady Grove to Silver Spring. Even though we had to stop a couple times and idle at the station he was sure to inform everyone what was going on every 30 seconds to a minute. He made helpful reminders about standing away from the doors and "being ready" to board or get off. It's good to be able to come here and say that Metro got it right, I wish i could do it more often.

KML768 said...

I have had the nicest bus drivers on the G2! Tonight was an especially pleasant, as the bus driver took the time to make sure a wheelbound rider was safely on and off the bus. If I had the midnight shift, I would be one cranky lady, but this man was courteous, friendly, and over-the-top helpful. Go metrobus!

Anonymous said...

I used to live in Alexandria and rode the same bus most days to work. I had never spoke to, or honestly, even noticed the bus operator. I was dragging one day, but thought I was on time. However, when I rounded the corner I found my bus pausing in the intersection with its door open and the bus operator waving to me. I ran to the bus and he told me "I always look out for my regulars." There after, I always greeted him warmly by name (Mr. Dillard) until he was promoted and I moved. Now I always say hello to the bus operator when I get on a bus. Bus Operator has to be a tough job.

dwfma said...

I know MARC isn't Metro, but I would like to share this story, too.

I was a regular on the Penn Line between Baltimore Penn Station and Union Station for years. One night a few years ago I was on the Camden Line instead, either by choice or necessity (ie Amtrak/Penn issues). We were only out of Union Station a few minutes or miles before the train had to stop.

A disabled freight train was on an adjacent track, and needed to be inspected before the MARC could pass. However, it seemed all of the freight train's staff was at their government limit for hours worked, and no one could legally do the inspection. So with a mumble of something like, "Well, hell, I used to work on freight lines," the Camden conductor rolled up his sleeves, took out a flashlight, and went outside to inspect the train himself. He returned about 10 or 15 minutes later, much dirtier, and assured us Camden passengers our train would be moving shortly.

My father used to work on the railroad, and I always like to imagine him pulling off something like this. If you are a Penn regular, take the Camden every once in a while; the grizzly veterans there are a welcome respite from the grumpy Penn staff.

Anonymous said...

Okay, this isn’t much, but since Metro standards are so low ...I had a very pleasant driver (sorry I didn’t get her name) on my trip home last night on the Y8 heading to Silver Spring around 5:48 pm or so. She said hello to every passenger and thanked them when they paid their fare (guessing it was because they didn’t have any problems with Smartrip cards or people had the exact fare). She also warned people to be careful getting off the bus. I walk to the back of the bus and usually exit from the rear. I’m not sure who else could hear her, but I heard her call out to passengers (even to me when I was exiting) to watch our step as we were stepping down onto the sidewalk/curb/edge of the street! Thanks for such pleasantries!

Anonymous said...

Thursday morning (yesterday) on the Orange Line in from Vienna at about 8:05 am, we had an awesome driver. He was energetic and sounded like he actually wanted to do his job. He started us off with an "All aboard! All aboard! CHOO CHOO!" At one point, we had to hold at a station (Courthouse maybe) and he said "I've been told that I'm supposed to stop here. Apparently I got a little ahead of schedule, but we'll make it up in the tunnels! I promise I'll get you to work on time!"

It was great that people were smiling on the Metro. At one point we were told "pretty please" to make sure not to block the doors.

Anonymous said...

Hey Unsuck - how about a section titled "Things we actually like about Metro" or something like that? This morning I was pleased to see that the Van Ness escalators from the mezzanine to the platform were both (finally) functioning. They look either new or just very clean too. So they DO (eventually) fix escalators. :)

Anonymous said...

Love this idea since there's not enough positive stuff on most Metro blogs. The morning shift station managers at Eisenhower and West Falls Church are both great; they're friendly and help people when needed. The two employees who hand out Express papers at Pentagon City are also very courteous as well.

Anonymous said...

The guy working the kiosk closest to 7th & H Streets at Gallery Place/Chinatown this morning between 7:15-8:00. I looked at his name and made a mental note of it (but then promptly forgot it!). He was a helpful Metro worker. As I was walking through the fare gate, I heard him giving someone directions to the Yellow/Green lines. I couldn’t help but smile as I knew it would be a nice shout out for this board. [Darn; now if I could only remember his name!]

Anonymous said...

Okay, I made a note of the guy working the kiosk in the above mentioned post. His name is Mr. Hagler. :)

Anonymous said...

Have riders ever considered how hard it can be to take care of thousands of people daily? I guess it's just the American way to complain about any and everything that makes us uncomfortable.People in other countries endure worst things than an uncomfortable ride to work. I know you are thinking, "well I pay my money, I expect good service". Do you feel you are getting your money's worth? Think about it. You don't have worry about parking at work, traffic or high gas prices. And if it really suck that bad, don't ride it. But you won't stop because you need their services just as much as they need your business. How would you feel if the company you worked for was always viewed in a negative way? Would you be proud to represent that company? I am a rider and I believe metro is doing the best they can with the resources that they have.Some employees are under paid and have to work 16 hours shifts because of the shortage of employees. Would you be tired after working 16 hours? Metro can't hire employees if people keep cuting into their budget with petty lawsuits. See how one can make all suffer. Therefore the public need to play their part. Stop eating, drinking and bringing pets on the metro. Be alert and pay attention. After reading this comment please do some serious introspection.How big of you to rally up people to target metro? Isn't that consider bullying? I guess not when you become an adult. Why would we make fun of employees peeing on the track? If they took a bathroom break and was late getting to your stop, you would complain about that. Bottom line they need money and staff. Unlike others, there are some who appreciate metro services and employees.Stop being apart of the problem and become apart of the soultion. Donate your time cleaning trains or donate money to repair broken elevators. You would not dare right? Okay so unsuck yourself and stop complaining.

Anonymous said...

The face of METRO is the face of the union workers, The trains, communication, busses, every operational aspect would come to a hault without them. Most workers know what to do daily and its a good thing. While we run around trying to be vigilant taking pictures of metro workers doing wrong. The real wasteful abusers are right under our noses. The individuals who blend. No uniform means they can spend hours lingering over lunch, treating their consultants (that they waste millions on). They can catch a movie, go shopping and the ever popular trist. Perhaps the federal government feels justified to take back its 150 mil the same way the "High and Mighty" metro management is taking back metro workers benefits and contractural agreements. I'm sure Metro has spent more on consultants and lawyers then repairs and workers benefits would have cost. I would suggest we take pictures of the rude arrogant managers but they can't be identifed lucky them.

Rich said...

I have never taken the time to get the gentleman's name, but the man who works the upper (South) side of Huntington in the Metro during morning rush hour should be used to set an example for the other Metro employees. He is almost ALWAYS outside the kiosk greeting riders with a friendly 'good morning'.

Robert said...

The Metro parking enforcement officer at Naylor Rd. this morning should be commended. A Metro employee parked in the reserved parking spots and displayed a Metro safety vest on the dash to claim a spot. That display did not sway the officer who issued a parking ticket to the scofflaw employee.

BradK said...

T. Williams; Metro probably station manager at L'Enfant Plaza this morning-

Obviously we had some issues this morning, Green Line single tracking between L'Enfant and Navy Yard... this station manager was on her "A" game this morning, One hand on the PA system telling the station as a whole when the next Green Line trains would arrive... when she wasnt doing that, she had her head out of the window of her kiosk trying as hard as she could to direct people which busses they could take to get around the problem quicker...

Bravo Ms. Williams.

Unsuck DC Metro said...

http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/dc/2011/03/metro-workers-shuttled-stranded-riders-during-snowstorm

Anonymous said...

Thanks to white girl train driver who found my wallet stuck between the seats on the train. Another train driver looked but he did not find it. I rode Metro Rail to see the Washington Nationals. She gave it to a male supervisor on the blue line and I wanted to thank her personally.

Anonymous said...

I’m not sure if this shout out should go to Metro employees or Wheaton Urban District employees. Unfortunately, I don’t have anyone specific to say thank you to, but how about all of those employees who have to clean up the stairwells each and every day at the Wheaton parking garage? Many people are absolute slobs and think the world is their trash can. Every morning, there is usually trash of some sort in one of the stairwells. I’m sure it’s a daunting task of trying to keep it clean. Thanks to all of those who clean up after those who don’t give a flying leap because they’re too lazy and self-centered to throw away their own trash IN a trash can. Thanks also to the employees who had to wash up/paint over the graffiti on the walls! Sorry that you all have to go through this each and every day just because someone thinks their so special and entitled and can just toss their garbage anywhere!

Anonymous said...

Update from yesterday's post (April 25, 2011 @2:46 PM). I came across an employee who had a couple of pages of newspaper in his "trash picker-upper device". I stopped and thanked him for cleaning up after people constantly and told him that I was sorry that he had to do it every day. I could tell that he was less than thrilled about it; he said in a resigned manner that it was something that he had to do.

Thanks for letting me report on this UnSuck!

GDopplerXT said...

It's been almost a week since this story ran and I haven't seen any mention of it on this site (unless I missed it.)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/metro-honors-station-manager-for-thwarting-suicide-attempts/2011/05/26/AGj65yCH_story.html

Unsuck DC Metro said...

Oversight. Tweeted it and forgot to include it in the next day's other items.

They did a hell of a job.

Certifried said...

WMATA must have some sort of internal messaging going on, maybe a secret operation? I've seen a few station managers lately really going above and beyond what the status quo has been in the past. They're proactively walking up to customers at the fare machines looking to help out, walking around outside the little post they have helping people out. What gives? They tired of the bad press?

Anonymous said...

This morning on the 43 bus, which goes out of service at Farrugut Square, the driver offered to drive two Italian tourists around the corner and dropped them off in front of the White House so they wouldn't get lost or confused looking for it. Very nice of the driver!

Anonymous said...

The afternoon station manager (bald black gentleman) at Medical Center is an example of what station managers should be. He's always out helping customers if they need it. I've seen him a few times actually proactively approaching customers at the fare machines to ask if they need any assistance.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBFfkXCMp34&feature=related
He always seems to be working the Orange Line. Great operator! Funny and friendly! :)

Anonymous said...

This morning's delay was made bearable by our train operator. He kept us completely informed, managed to resolve a door issue on our train (separate from the main delay) and thanked the passengers for their assistance. Very impressive.

Anonymous said...

Not a riveting story but one day I missed my bus and frantically ran after it (not a good idea, but I was wanted to get home and it was my birthday). I had caught up to the bus but it was at a traffic light and the driver didn't see me. I had given up, but there was different route bus right behind the one I missed, and the bus driver in that bus waved me over. She told me she would drop me off at the next stop so I could board my bus! She was the first young & blonde lady metrobus driver I'd ever seen, which was cool. But I have to say most metrobus drivers I've encountered (MD area) are usually nice or indifferent with occasionally with a cranky one here or there. They're definitely nicer than the ones in Canada.

PostCollegiate said...

I take the bus to/from Farragut down Columbia Pike quite a bit and am always impressed with the drivers who are willing to wait if they see you hauling up the street or answer newbies questions about which stops are nearest which intersections, restaurants, high rises, etc. The consistently good attitudes of the drivers seem to rub off on the riders and make for a more pleasant experience than a few other bus routes I've been on.

CS said...

I have been a DC resident for many years and have been dismayed by Metro's decline, but as they say, credit where credit is due. I was having trouble adding credit to my Smartrip the other evening at Farragut West, as the machine rejected various cards that I tried. I was admittedly quite drunk, which may have had something to do with it. A Metro employee saw me having difficulty, offered to assist me, and sorted out the problem in the most friendly manner you could imagine. I can only imagine how many annoying drunks they have to deal with, so I give a lot of credit to this guy for helping me.

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