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Nobody Gets A Free Ride (Without A Pass)

, , , , , , | Working | November 8, 2021

Years ago, I worked for my country’s state-run transport company, which was formed as a result of a merger between three other companies — two bus and one rail.

One of the perks of employment in the company was free public transport. Employees could travel for free on trains by showing our staff ID to the conductor, or on buses by tapping our pass on the ticket machine, which would then issue a free ticket.

One of my colleagues told me that years before I started working for the company, there was an “incident” on one of the buses involving the newly-appointed chief executive. He boarded a bus and walked straight past the driver toward the seating, and then the driver called him back and asked him if he could see his ticket.

The chief executive rather arrogantly declared that he didn’t need a ticket, as he was the chief executive and therefore travelled for free. The driver, who apparently had never met the chief executive, politely apologised for the inconvenience and again insisted that the chief executive would need to tap his staff pass to get a free ticket.

The chief executive refused again and accused the driver of insubordination, threatening to report him to his depot manager or the head of bus operations. The driver, unfazed by the threat, politely explained that the chief executive would either need to show his staff pass, pay for a ticket, or get off the bus. Making threats about “having the bus driver’s job,” the chief executive very reluctantly showed his pass and got his free ticket.

He actually did speak to the depot manager and head of bus operations, both of whom sided with the driver. The chief executive was politely told: one, the driver would have been disciplined for not checking the staff pass; and two, managers and directors were not exempt from showing their passes, no matter how high up in the company they were. The chief executive ended up being brought down a notch or two.

When I heard this story, I thought it was great that managers would back up their employees like that!