Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spitting trauma

The New York Times reports on a new epidemic plaguing New York. Apparently, angry people are spitting on hapless bus drivers. This apparently leads to such deep trauma that the drivers take off an average of about three months in paid leave to recover from the psychological wounds of being spat upon. Such is one of the benefits that the union has negotiated for them.
It could be the cutbacks to the city’s transportation system, or a general decline in urban civility. Perhaps people are just in a collective bad mood.

What else could explain why New Yorkers — notoriously hardened to the slings and arrows of everyday life here — are spitting on bus drivers?

Of all the assaults that prompted a bus operator to take paid leave in 2009, a third of them, 51 in total, “involved a spat upon,” according to statistics the Metropolitan Transportation Authority released on Monday.

No weapon was involved in these episodes. “Strictly spitting,” said Charles Seaton, a New York City Transit spokesman.

And the encounters, while distressing, appeared to take a surprisingly severe toll: the 51 drivers who went on paid leave after a spitting incident took, on average, 64 days off work — the equivalent of three months with pay. One driver, who was not identified by the authority, spent 191 days on paid leave.

Transit officials, facing a budget shortfall of $400 million, called the numbers troubling. “We have to see what we’re going to do with that,” said Joseph Smith, who oversees bus operations for New York City Transit.

Spitting falls under the category of assault in the drivers’ contract with the authority. And officials at Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents city bus operators, said the extended absences were justified.

“Being spat upon — having a passenger spit in your face, spit in your mouth, spit in your eye — is a physically and psychologically traumatic experience,” said John Samuelsen, the union’s president. “If transit workers are assaulted, they are going to take off whatever amount of time they are going to take off to recuperate.”
Hmmm, what could account for all this spitting? Could it be because the drivers are aware of the paid vacation that they will get so that they can recover from all that spitting trauma that they are now reporting more and more of such instances?

2 comments:

Clark said...

"Hey, Vinnie, I've used up my leave days. Would you mind getting onto my bus during your lunch break and spitting on me?"

LarryD said...

With three months of paid vacation at stake, I wonder how many of these "incidents" are fabricated?