Dan Rattiner's Stories

Jitney Stop Drama: A Female Traveler, a Taxi Cab and a Rush to Catch the Bus

Is saw my wife off at the Hampton Jitney this morning for her trip to New York City aboard the 9:30 a.m. Ambassador. We got to the East Hampton Jitney stop at 9:25 a.m., waited for a minute or two until the Ambassador pulled in, and then gathered up her things and together walked over to it. Many people were there waiting, and we stood at the back of the line for a bit as the attendant boarded the passengers, checking their reservations on a clipboard as they entered, and when my wife got to the front of the line I kissed her goodbye as she boarded. I returned to my car and got in.

I had parked in the first legal spot behind the Ambassador. As the photo shows, our local authorities have arranged room for busses to swing in and get to the curb and then swing back out after they have loaded at this stop. So I was looking at the back of the Ambassador from my car 100 feet behind it.

The door to the Ambassador remained swung open for a few minutes after everyone was boarded. They do this to see if anyone else would appear at the last minute.

In that interval, a mini-van taxicab arrived in a very hurry-up fashion, pulled in and screeched to a halt directly behind the Ambassador. But nobody got out. Seemed to me the passenger was being urged to take the time to settle the fare. And it occurred to me that this was a disaster in the making.

There is no rear window on the Ambassador, as with most busses. The back of the bus is taken up with the kitchen and restroom facilities, and although there is a rear video screen on the dashboard for the driver, it only is on when the vehicle is shifted into reverse. So it’s unlikely the Ambassador driver would have seen what was going on back there.

I thought they’d better hurry up.

The side door of the minivan slid outwards and back. A leg appeared from the opening and touched the curb. A piece of luggage came out and was placed on the grass. With that, the Ambassador closed its door, put on its left blinker and slowly moved forward and out into the road and off toward its next stop, which is at Wainscott.

What would happen next?

What happened was that the luggage was retracted into the mini-van, the leg was withdrawn and the slider closed. The mini-van stayed like that for a good long time.

Now, any good taxi driver knows that the smarter though more obnoxious and ill-mannered thing to do in a case like this would be to race up and pull over IN FRONT of the Ambassador, totally blocking its ability to proceed until the passenger was safely on board. But then I thought, well, perhaps this taxi driver is smart as a fox. What he (or she) is looking for is a chase and a higher fare. Speed up, stay behind the Ambassador for the three miles to Wainscott and then catch it and get the passenger boarded there.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, the sliding door reopened, the leg appeared, the luggage appeared on the grass and then the whole person got out, closed the slider, picked up the luggage and walked slowly to the now empty park bench where you sit to wait, and she sat.

She took out her cell phone and poked at it. The taxicab, meanwhile, started forward slowly, then stopped about a car length further on, still in the illegal bus stop lane. I could not see this, but I think the driver must have lowered the passenger side window and spoken to the woman. She looked up briefly, didn’t say anything, then looked back at her phone. Finally, the taxi driver headed off.

Well, it was time for me to leave. As I pulled out I glanced over to the woman. She had stopped poking the phone, and was now lighting herself a cigarette.

And that’s the story.

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