After a long day at office, I boarded the luxury Volvo bus and slouched down on the seat. The bus was gradually getting packed with the IT crowd, as it stopped at the two popular business parks en route to its destination. As always everyone appeared tired, but were glad to get into an AC bus after waiting in the hot, humid weather outside.
Just when everyone settled down for a nap or plugged in their mobile’s earphones in to listen to their favourite songs, we heard a lady arguing with the bus conductor. I assumed that the conductor had been up to some tricks, like they usually do and I was glad the lady was arguing about whatever the issue was. The argument was faint at first and gradually got louder. The lady began shouting and howling at the conductor asking him to return her bus pass. People were roused from their blissful siesta as they began to focus on what the issue was. The conductor had seized the lady’s bus pass saying that it got expired three months ago. Although it was his duty to do so, the lady got furious saying that she received the pass from her office and that he had no right to seize her pass. This didn't make sense to me. The conductor tried to calm her down saying that it was his duty to seize expired passes and if she had any issue, she could sort it with the bus-depot manager. But the adamant lady kept howling at him, not caring to pay attention to what he was saying. The conductor was clearly losing his patience by then, so were the others. He requested her to pay for the travel and she began threatening him saying that she would call the police. He asked her to go ahead and do what she desired. On seeing that he wasn't reacting or giving back her expired pass, she called the police. We heard her complaining that the conductor was harassing her without giving a clear, concrete reason for it. She asked the conductor to talk to the police and the conductor politely obliged. He explained the situation to the police and returned the phone to her. The lady sobered down after she spoke to the police but continued to intimidate the conductor. He still maintained his cool and I began to admire the way he was handling the situation.
When the first attempt failed, she dialed the women harassment cell - Vanitha Sahayavani. At this point all of us were surprised that she had these numbers stored in her phone and it all seemed fishy. We were not sure if she actually called the Sahayavani but the lady at the other end was howling at the conductor just like this one without even trying to understand the situation. The conductor was irritated, and he refused to speak to her. He returned the phone to the dramatic lady telling her he won’t co-operate anymore and sternly told her to sort the issue with the depot manager.
By now, she was getting nowhere with her antics and most of us were losing our patience. I asked my fellow passengers as to who they thought was right. Everyone obviously supported the conductor for doing his duty in a very polite mode. The lady was clearly misusing the rights of a woman. One of my co-passengers, a lady too, asked the conductor if she could see the pass. Note that the lady was still howling at the conductor to return the pass else she was threatening to file a case against him for harassment. The co-passenger saw that the pass was evidently expired and all of us were angry that the lady in question was fighting for the wrong reasons and using the systems in a wrong way. In fact, she was the one who was harassing the conductor. We collectively told her that she must stop howling and sort her issue either with the manager who offered her the pass or the depot manager.
Here we are trying to empower women by struggling and fighting to get the laws in place and few miscreants are thoroughly misusing them for the wrong reasons. On the other hand, those who truly need it are either scared of using them or are unaware of such benefits. Sad Plight! The least we could do is to identify such frauds and discourage them from abusing their rights.