Transportation Policy

Go Ahead, Spit on Me. I Need the Vacation.


Let me begin by saying that spitting on people is rude, uncivilized, and like totally gross, even when you've waited a long time for the bus and the fare seems unreasonably high. But unless they are contracting tuberculosis as a result of such encounters, it is hard to understand why New York City bus drivers routinely take months of paid leave to recover from the experience. Except, of course, for the obvious reason: because they can. The New York Times explains:

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."

The Times quotes a couple of skeptics, including a spat-upon driver who shook it off and "kept on going" (but who allows that "everybody has their own tolerance to these things") and a transit authority official who has her doubts:

You have to wonder if you can go home and shower off, take a nap, take off the rest of the day and maybe the next day. When it gets strung out for months, you start to wonder.

NEXT: Constituents Using a Forum to Register Displeasure With Representative: Spooky!* 700 Angry Protesters on a Bankster's Front Lawn: "About damn time"

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  1. Like totally gross? C’mon, Jacob, that’s not your demographic, despite your adolescent indeological proclivities.

  2. MTA bus drivers tend to be the most unflappable people on the planet, so this is doubly bullshit. They live in a state of near catatonia. Unless you come in front of the yellow line to ask them about a stop, and then they wake up enough to tell you to stand behind the line and might just mumble an answer to your question.

  3. Absolute candyassery. “Oh, the psychological scars! I’ll NEVER get over this!”

    Come on. New York bus drivers are that wussified? Bullshit.

  4. The union is going to have a little conversation with the saliva-tolerant driver who gave the Times a quote.

  5. I would like to know, why are people spitting on bus drivers?

    1. Probably cause they’re douchebags who have no occupational pressure to give good customer service.

    2. I would like to know, why are people spitting on bus drivers?

      Because they’re pissed off that the bus drivers are using union rules to take off massive amounts of what amounts to paid vacations over something minor like being spat upon, and are expressing their contempt for such bullshit?

      Yes, a bit circular, but c’est la vie.

    3. Dude, it’s New York.

    4. I don’t see any indication in the article that the drivers had to actually prove they were spat upon. Maybe word got around that if you say you got spat on you can take 3 months off.

    5. because people are dicks. sometimes drivers are dicks.

      it’s dicks all the way down.

  6. Is there anything that can be done to stop the unions? After seeing Greece and SEIU recently, I don’t think they will go quietly.

  7. What pussies! In my line of work, getting splashed and covered with bodily fluids is a pretty common job hazard.

    These guys need to grow a pair.

    1. Porn actor?

      1. Groovus Maximus is a physician, but in light of the ambiguity of that statement, I’m gonna assume he * might * moonlight as a gay male hooker …


        1. Why does it have to be a gay male hooker? I could be an escort specializing in mature women who squirt after achieving multiple and monstrous orgasms. Having expertise in human anatomy does have it’s benefits and the cougars need love too.

          Though Epi did offer me big bucks for a night of bliss…

          Seriously though, my nom de blog would make an excellent nom de porn.

          1. Dennis: I will be providing a very important service, however, as what I would like to be called…a handsome companion.

            Mac: To dudes?

            Charlie: To guys or…

            Dennis: No, not to dudes. To?no, hang on. Hold on. Hang on. To old fancy rich ladies who want to do classy, exotic, fancy things with me.

            Mac: Great, Dennis, you keep banging dudes.

            1. Mac: I never seen so many beautiful people in my life.

              Dennis Reynolds: Check it out, even Sweet Dee is getting lucky.

              Charlie Kelly: That dude’s going to bang your sister, bro.

              1. “Yeah, man, but I did-?I banged that girl in the fountain. That story was true. The hot dogs, the oatmeal, everything.”

                1. Mac: I think you should bang Gail the snail….

                  Frank: My neice?

                  Mac: Yeah

                  Frank: Gail the Snail?

                  Mac: Dude what’s more depraved than that huh? So she’s not blood related so it’s not that weird.

                  BTW Epi, almost every foul thing I have said of you I may have to retract. Your recommendation of IASIP was absolutely correct. Every episode is like a great train wreck except the writing is excellent.

                  1. Glad you like it. If you’re in the mood for additional recommendations, try Strangers With Candy. A sampling:

                    “Listen, girls, violence never solves anything…except conflict. I know, I’m a pacifist…I PASS a FIST. Get it?”

                    “If one of my teachers loses his face, I lose face!”

                    “Let’s go watch some gay porn to get our hate back.”

                    “The only thing we hate more than racists are spics.”

                    1. Not a big fan of Janeane Golfin-with-buffalos, but you are remarkably well schooled in American Pop culture, so I may give it a look see.

                    2. man. i got kicked in the nads hard enough to make me wretch.

                      no days off

                      i got kicked in the nose. got a minor concussion

                      2 days off

                      otoh, i know of a guy who got 6 months of paid stress leave off, after getting suspended for 3 days. the stress of the suspension and all…

                      lol (not my agency)

    2. Fluffer?

      1. If making a clitoris erect (which it should, as the erectile tissue there is essentially the same as the penis) counts as fluffing, then yes.

        Otherwise, no.

    3. Doctor, whore–under the new healthcare law, there is no legal difference.

      1. Does that mean attys are the pimps or the johns in this scheme Pro’L Dib?

  8. Hoo, I see nothing wrong with the behaviour of the bus drivers. They’re just following the golden capitalist maxim: all the traffic will bear. As Sullum says, they take paid vacation for a trivial incident simply because they can.

    And what’s wrong with that? Having a job doesn’t involve some kind of moral compulsion, ferfuxsakes. That’s the statist position — that citizens have sacred moral duties to the state, their employer, each other, Mother Earth, blah blah, far beyond the mere value for value received morally neutral nature of the contract. To hell with that. That way lies public judgments about who is earning “too much” and who is “entitled” to free health care or a bailout.

    Of course, the stout yeomanry of New York City might well want to reconsider this particular contract, and wonder forcefully whether they might be able to get the same quality of bus service at considerably less cost if they (for example) cut a deal with nonunion drivers.

    1. Indeed – for obvious reasons, the maxim does not apply to government jobs.

      1. Sure it does. There’s nothing special about working for the government.

        Once again, it’s the taxpayers who should be paying attention here. I’m not necessarily saying that if a city manager signs a contract like this he should be routed out his bed by angry voters and tarred and feathered.

        But if that were a real possibility I kinda suspect contracts like this would very rarely be signed.

        Liberty is for the vigilant. For those who can’t be bothered with an aggressive defence of their liberty, who don’t mind turning over their conscience to a manager, mayor, governor, king, pharaoh or priest, it’s the collar and the leash. Always.

        1. One special thing about the government is that it can use its power to preserve a monopoly on a service, thereby eliminating market forces that would normally do away with this sort of tomfoolery.

          1. Only if the voters let them. Which they often do, I grant you. But the blame for the shark’s rapacious consumption of swimmers lies less with the shark per se and more with he who let it out of the cage, promising it would just clean up the nasty squids befouling the beach.

            1. Carl is correct – the government is just another player in the market.

              You guys are basically whining that the NYC bus drivers were smart enough to unionize and thus get better job perks than you do.

    2. And what’s wrong with that? Having a job doesn’t involve some kind of moral compulsion, ferfuxsakes.

      Oh, I disagree that agreeing to do a job for someone has no moral component whatsoever. I happen to think that there is a moral obligation to fulfill any promise, even if it happens to be in contractual form, in good faith.

      The fact that to some extent the moral obligation isn’t legally enforcable is irrelevant.

  9. You have to wonder if you can go home and shower off, take a nap, take off the rest of the day and maybe the next day. When it gets strung out for months, you start to wonder.


    1. The whole fucking DAY? How about wipe it off, beat the fuck out of who did it and get the bus back on schedule.

      1. How about stop the bus, call the cops, have the jackass arrested for assault, then continue doing the job they’re getting fucking paid for …

        Oh, right, they’re unionized … nevermind.

  10. I have little doubt this is just the tip of the iceberg. Union apologists (and they’re not all members) are already having difficulty trying to defend this shit. We’re seeing story after story of these parasites’ outrageous abuse and they’re crying “Wah! Stop playing politics in the media!”. I say bring it on. Stupid voters who keep approving this crap need to have the scales lifted off their eyes.

    1. Meanwhile when a CEO runs his company into the ground intentionally and walks away with millions of dollars you guys shrug and say “well, that’s the free market at work”.

  11. Dear New Yorkers:
    If you see someone spit on a bus driver, know that they may have just cost you thousands in tax dollars. Treat them as any self-respecting New Yorker treats someone who steals from them. Be sure to check for a camera first.

  12. Heh. They think it’s spit.

  13. Does this kind of stuff actually happen on public transportation?

    1. I’ve never seen it but a couple hundred incidents out of a yearly ridership of 700,000,000+ seems pretty low considering how many of my fellow New Yorkers are loutish pigs.

  14. I just about had a fucking fit when I read this in the times yesterday, and I too noticed that the author didn’t seem to give a shit that this was happening on the taxpayers dime. It’ almost like a notice from the state paper: “Your fellow members of state are not completing their social obligations. Please refrain from such behavior. Your state needs you. Even though we are completely understanding of your trauma, we feel that 45 days of paid leave is more in order.”

    1. I get the same urge to bang my head against a brick wall whenever I hear a non-union voter’s reflexive support for this nonsense. These are people with generally good incomes who must be wondering where their tax dollars go but haven’t questioned the “unionz good!!1!1” propaganda they’re surrounded by, I guess.

  15. When I drove a cab we dealt with this sort of event by the cabbie getting out of the cab and punching the person in the face. It made the cabbie feel better and no time off was necessary.

  16. BTW, if you don’t live in New York City, then why does this bother you?

    It’s like complaining that a restaurant you don’t ever eat at overpays its wait staff.

    1. So, we should only comment on things that happen in our local areas?

    2. Because this sort of abuse happens in every public-sector union?

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