Women’s March (to the Back of the Bus)

I Expect to Be Called Names for my tag on the last story this week. Let’s start with the story, in the 29 January 2017 issue:

Freak of Nomenclature — Protest Department

A group of women from Athens and Marietta, Ohio, chartered a bus to take them to Washington D.C. to participate in the Women’s March protest the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. A few days before the trip, the assigned bus driver, an apparent Trump supporter, solicited feedback on her Facebook page as to what she should do. The consensus: make sure the women didn’t get to Washington, maybe by sabotaging her bus. “Lol all good ideas,” the bus driver replied. “Humm thinking that serpentine belt just broke… 24-hour road-side service lol it’s a 6-foot belt… lol.” When the women arrived for the trip, the driver told them the bus’s battery was dead. In the hours that followed while waiting for a service truck, the group found a copy of the driver’s Facebook posts and confronted her. Then, “the bus miraculously started working again and was ready to go within 10 minutes,” said one of the riders, bartender Sierra Crenshaw. Still, most didn’t feel safe riding with the driver, and either didn’t make it to Washington or used alternative transportation. The post has since been deleted from Facebook. The Athens News wouldn’t print the name of the S&S Coach driver involved, but other media weren’t so shy: she was Donna Hinderer. (RC/Athens News, Parkersburg News and Sentinel) …There has been no word about her fate from her boss, Ida Fireder.

Names? “Lefty Libtard” or something. (No, I haven’t had anyone call me that particular one, but I’ve seen it in Facebook comments recently, as if that’s a valid debate technique.)

Not Much of a Choice

Illustration of Clinton as 'Two-Face' and Trump as 'Joker'
One of the best “anti-both” memes I saw during election season. (Click for larger.)

While I’ve not made it any sort of secret that I wasn’t in favor of Trump or Clinton in the 2016 election, had I been her boss “Ida Fireder” not for her political beliefs, but because she didn’t do her job. She discussed sabotage of her work vehicle in public and lo and behold, there was a problem with her bus.

Did she actually sabotage it? Hard to say for sure, but it walks like a duck, and the customers felt unsafe because of her actions. You’re darn right I’d’ve fired her! Same if she had been a Hillary supporter, and didn’t get Trump supporters to the inauguration under the same circumstances the day before. In which case there’d be some opposite slur.

Insider Information

The story was brought to my attention by reader Deanna in Ohio — who was one of the passengers who didn’t feel safe, and took alternative transportation to Washington. I sent her the story last night and asked for her comments. She replied:

She’s not been fired from S&S and they have found no wrongdoing. [Trip organizer] RallyBus has offered all of us who did not get to the march with either a full or partial refund. Personally, I think it should be full and not sure for their reasons for the partial refunds.

The 5 of us out of the 31 who did not ride the bus want the emphasis to be on safety. She joked about causing harm…She joked about causing harm and happened to be a Trump supporter. I’d have to look back through the different stories and news broadcasts, but the owner of S&S did get to the inauguration just fine the day before, on one of his buses.

But really, I’m most concerned about the safety of anyone who might have a different view than those of Donna Hinderer and her boss, Earl. Also, the implications of the harm to the First Amendment all over this: right to assemble, speech etc. It was our choice to go to Washington D.C., pay for the ticket and trust our safety to someone else.

In spite of this hinderence, five of us did go and practiced our First Amendment rights. It was powerful and hopeful. It was hopeful because I knew we were not alone in our beliefs, our voice and that to borrow a slogan from HRC, we’re stronger together.

I’m still sad that the 5 of us who drove, got so tired. We got there late, left earlier than we would’ve liked, because of this woman’s inability to do her job. She took our choice away. But her choice did not take away my ability, our ability, to make a statement of presence and perseverance.

Thanks again Randy for looking at this. Lemme know if you can find Ida Fireder.

Will do.

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21 Comments on “Women’s March (to the Back of the Bus)

  1. “Also, the implications of the harm to the First Amendment all over this: right to assemble, speech etc.” this statement from Deanna in Ohio really gets me upset. The Constitutional protected rights only extend to the Government’s interference in those rights, not a private enterprise or individual. The bus driver and company owner were also both wrong in my mind, these people paid for a service that they did not receive. I strongly believe that a Civics class should be mandatory throughout school so people understand what their rights are and what they mean.

    I do understand what you’re saying. Yet: they were marching on Washington, and Mr. Trump has been very clear about what he thinks of protest (e.g., “Take Their Coats! Throw Them Out In The Cold.” and “I love the old days — you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”) It’s pretty natural to consider your rights are being taken away by “the government” when the man who says such things is, in fact, now the president. -rc

  2. Where was that picture during the campaign! Pretty much how I felt about them both.

    I did post it to Facebook before the election, but that goes right back to how they don’t show many posts anymore, even to those who have SAID they want to see posts from various Facebook “pages.” -rc

  3. Stay on ’em Randy, maybe more than ever before “This Is True” needs to be broadcast far and wide!! (And that graphic/pic is awesome!)

  4. I did find out this afternoon that RallyBus has offered total refunds to all ticket holders who did not make the trip to Washington D.C. with them. Just wanted to be as fair and transparent as possible.

    Unlike Ms. Hinderer. -rc

  5. The real problem is with anyone who thinks that such behavior is acceptable. It does not matter who you support, you should do your job or you should be honest about it. If it was a group of satanists, she might not want to be the driver with good reason. The driver could have told the company that she would prefer someone else drive that bus. To do what she did means that she really should be fired.

    With that said, I think that the claim that they were in fear for their safety is a bit of an over-reaction. Perhaps a more honest fear would be in not getting there, but that is not really a safety issue.

    There is a claim that “most” did not feel safe riding the bus, but the response mentions 5 out of 31 took other transportation. That does not seem like “most” to me.

    The story didn’t go over the numbers, but I will here: there were 55 women in the group. Of those, 31 chose not to ride the bus once they learned the driver had discussed sabotage with her friends on Facebook. They saw posts like “put it [the bus] on autopilot and jump” and, pretty naturally, didn’t feel safe. Of those 31, 5 got to Washington on their own. 31 of 55 is indeed “most”. -rc

  6. A couple of points. Yes, Freedom of Speech is strictly defined in the Constitution. However the term has acquired a broader meaning to most. These days, Freedom of Speech has come to embody our rights as Americans to speak out without being silenced. It doesn’t grant you any freedom from responsibility for your speech, as some seem to think.

    My other point is doing business and your relationship with your customers and employees. It seems to me that both the owner and the driver had ample opportunity to back out of the contract. But neither one did. Those women gave their money in good faith and likely signed a contract. Had the shoe been on the other foot I have no doubt the owner would have taken them to court to enforce the terms of that contract.

    Ethically both the driver and the owner are found to be wanting. My father taught me that you give your word you keep it. I hope this company ends up on a list of people that can’t keep their word or fulfill their obligations.

  7. In addition to violations of rights there was a threat of sabotage. In this society if you walk into a store and claim to have planted a bomb, they will arrest (and most likely convict) you just because of what you said without any bomb. I see no difference. The driver should lose her job, her commercial drivers license and be arrested for violent threats. The supervisor should be fired and arrested for threat of violence. All involved should have gotten a refund. My opinion is not political, I say all of this without regard to where they were going or why they were going there. It makes no difference to me.

  8. The issue with the bus has nothing to do with politics. Of course it was politics which caused the driver to do what she did but that is not the point. Whatever her motivation may have been, she purposely caused a significant inconvenience to the company’s customers and should be disciplined for that. I would have fired her but maybe she is a single mom and needs the job, something her boss would have known, so maybe he took alternative disciplinary action. Whatever he did is none of our business as that is a personnel issue BUT anything short of a full refund is insufficient recompense and likely should include something more, at least a personal note of apology to each passenger.

  9. Tom from Wamego KS: There may have been extenuating circumstances that the boss knew about. On the other hand, since the driver made threats (“put [the bus] on autopilot and jump”), that puts this in a different category. A bus driver who jokes about that sort of thing should not be a bus driver, no matter how she feels about the destination of the people who chartered her bus. What if she were to follow through and the bus company had heard about the threats? And if nothing else, how many people would be unwilling to work with this particular company after hearing that one of the drivers made those sorts of threats and kept her job? This could be bad for both customers and the company. Normally I’m not someone who would advocate firing someone who made loose comments on Facebook, but this is a different level of seriousness.

    To be clear, “put [the bus] on autopilot and jump” was a suggestion to the driver, not something she said. Her response to that (and several other suggestions) was “Lol all good ideas,” so your basic point still holds. -rc

  10. It is a pleasant surprise to see no name-calling. I’ll bet you are glad to have been wrong on that count!

    But we can’t let the commentary be completely name-calling free, so I’ll take the bullet — this driver is a total obliviot! Posting these comments in a completely public forum? As someone else pointed out, she could have been arrested for this is the circumstances had been even slightly different!


    Worse, you’re Canadian! -rc

  11. No matter what the political persuasion the planned sabotage of a motor vehicle to achieve a political end with a view to instilling fear is terrorism, albeit petty — Give Homeland Security the details maybe they’ll give her a call?

  12. This is a symptom of a larger problem that seems to be taking hold over our political discourse. We have forgotten what it means to be American. I am a Trump voter. (To be distinguished from a Trump supporter.) In my opinion, of the options presented on November 8th to me Trump was the best. Others disagree. Neither side is evil. Neither side is holy. It is just two different opinions on the direction we want the country to take going forward.

    The American thing for the driver to have done would have been to drive the bus to its destination, taking or making a sign opposing the women’s march and crossing the street to the other side and counter-protest her customers. Then, after it was all over, drive them all back home, with perhaps a lively discussion of the issues during breaks and stops along the way. THAT would have been the American thing.

    This need to portray the other side as evil and bad, or ourselves as holy and pure, is what will destroy this country. Not Trump. Not Hillary or any of the other divisive leaders we seem to be attracting at this point in our history. The complete unwillingness to compromise and find middle grounds is giving us governments where the “majority” rules over the “minority” instead of coming together to find solutions we can all live with even if they don’t necessarily reflect our perfect vision of Utopia. My Utopia very well could be your Hell. And your Utopia could very well be my Hell. Maybe we should all set our sights on Purgatory instead.

  13. Just a note to tell you that, even as a staunch Trump supporter, I would not have called you a “Lefty Libtard” for the story about the S&S driver nor its tagline because YES! she should be fired for such a thing, politics or no, for precisely the reason(s) you state: she didn’t do her job. Compounding her intransigence, she made it public. Shame on her and her employers for not doing the right thing, I say. You have done well for yourself, and I applaud you for being fair and honest about it, even contacting one of the passengers for her side of the story. Well played, carry on!

    Just to be sure, it’s because the passenger-reader had let me know about the story that I asked her to comment on my treatment of it. -rc

  14. I don’t really see this as a freedom of speech issue.

    I do see this as absurd customer service, criminal threats, and if the clients do not receive full refunds, theft.

    I will give the same retort to the jerk who refused to issue gay marriage licenses after the Supreme Court decision. If you don’t want to do your job, no one is forcing you to. However, you should honorably resign. To try and have it both ways is just dishonest and turns your wages into theft.

  15. A full/partial refund?

    I would be looking for damages for the additional costs I had to incur (if driving), damages for the hours spent “awaiting” for service, and punitive damages, since this was (non the balance of probabilities) a deliberate act.

    $500 punitive per person x 55 people. That will highlight any problem to the company — a “partial” refund will not.

  16. I seldom comment on blog posts or anything else. I did however write directly to the owner of S&S Coach (in quotes below). He’s the guy who can actually do something about it. The rest of us are just blowing off steam.

    My personal feeling after writing this is that everyone on all sides of the many fences we have could stand to be a little more prideful of who we are as a nation, regardless of our politics and politicians. These women weren’t liberals, they were Americans. Trump supporters aren’t right-wing nut cases, they are Americans. All of our Muslims are Americans. Our visitors aren’t just foreigners on visas, they are American guests. She should have been proud to transport them to defend our liberty by exercising their rights as Americans. Use it or lose it. Just ask any Russian news reporter about their rights under Putin.
    the email…

    “If an airline pilot made a joke on FaceBook about sabotaging the plane because he didn’t like the passengers for whatever reason, he would certainly be fired and probably spend some time talking with Homeland Security about his future career options. Just because buses operate on the relative safety of the ground doesn’t absolve you of the duty to safeguard the American public.

    “It’s not a joke. Your driver not only spoke the words on her FaceBook page but the bus just happened to break down before the trip…, and then the FB page was deleted. If it was really just a joke, why delete the page? It looks like a duck, it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck. I fully understand why 31 of the 54 women didn’t feel safe going on with your driver. Since no corrective action has been taken I wouldn’t feel safe with any S&S driver either. If you don’t want to be serious about protecting your passengers then protect your company. All of us who work with our nation’s safety and infrastructure have the responsibility to act in a professional manner on duty and off. What will the next incident be like?”

    (From the company website)
    “At S&S Coach Company, safety is our utmost duty. Safe drivers don’t happen by chance. Only the best drivers, with excellent driving records are even concidered for our driving positions.

    “In addition to an excellent driving record, our drivers must pass a pre-employment drug screening, background check and have a minumum of two years driving experience. They then undertake one of the best and most extensive class room and behind-the-wheel training programs in the industry.

    “S&S Coach’s in-house training program is the foundation of our motor coach program and a crucial factor of our ability to maintain one of the highest safety records in the nation.”

    I’ll be interested if you get a reply from S&S — but I won’t hold my breath waiting. -rc

    • I also notice that the company’s trained seal didn’t answer your e-mail.

      Good thing we weren’t holding our breaths! -rc

  17. Mark commented that the person should have backed out of the contract.

    Perhaps the owner and the driver were following our new president’s example, someone who testified in court, actually in a court deposition, that it is perfectly proper to fully execute a contract then refuse to pay for the services that were rendered. His words were, as I recall, that a written contract is merely a tool of negotiation to him.

    Another person said that this is not suppression of free speech.

    I disagree. Obviously the driver did intend to suppress these women’s right to free speech, specifically by making them late. This makes it suppression of free speech, and I hope that one of the ladies takes this to a lawyer who is willing to make a case out of it.

    No matter whether someone is on the left or on the right, we have the right to express our opinion, and this extends to having the right to go somewhere to express our opinion.

  18. As someone who has worked in motorcoach transportation for over a decade, this story incensed me! Our obligation to our customers is to provide transportation to and from the events and/or destinations of their choosing, not to judge where they are going or what they do once they reach your destination! We have many organizations with religious affiliations charter our motor coaches…just because I am not a fan of organized religion, does that give me the right, as an employee, to either refuse service to them or do something to make sure they do not reach their intended destination? No, it doesn’t. Maybe the driver involved would do well to realize that those women were paying her wages for the duration of the trip and that on most motor coach tours, the participants tend to give gratuities to driver for their professional and courteous service. What would this bus driver think of a doctor who was a Hillary supporter making comments about sabotaging her surgery? She clearly lacks the judgment necessary to interact with the public on a professional level!

    We have many openly opinionated drivers at our company, but once they get behind that wheel, they are professional to the core…we would expect and accept nothing less! Also, when in the hell are people going to learn that social media and work don’t mix! How many of these stories do we have to hear before we lock down our facebook pages and learn not to post anything that would make us look bad to the general public? My hope would be that the transportation company would terminate her; however, the reality is that motor coach drivers aren’t always easy to come by. I at least hope there was some significant disciplinary action taken against her.

  19. What really upsets me is comments that make so many assumptions. First to assume she was serious and not just joking with friends. I’ve been hearing so many bad jokes over the elections that I’ve had to totally tune out.

    Where’s the threat at? I see talk about staging a breakdown, in which case the company would get another bus and repair truck out there. Doesn’t seem threatening to me.

    A bad battery connection can happen at any time, and everyone assumes she was faking it. Anyone ever stop to think that her company would be quite upset with her when they find out she was faking a dead battery? The fact that they didn’t fire her could mean there was a legitimate problem.

    So someone found the driver’s facebook page… why would anyone be looking for her facebook page? they’d have to know her name first off. These are some real nosy women, apparently very paranoid as well. When the driver was confronted I’d say it’s understandable that she realized her luck ran out and it would be a good idea to find the problem and fix it, accident or not.


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