Apparently, the UCSD transportation department has lost its sense of humor.
Last week, it informed Debbie Evans, a shuttle driver, that she is no longer allowed to act like a pirate on her shuttle.
Since the beginning of the school year, when she started her shuttle-driving career, Evans has worn a red bandanna, an eye patch (not over any eyes, of course), and occasionally a fake hook or parrot while on the job. She had greeted passengers with an occasional “”Ahoy, matey!”” or “”Arrrggg!”” mixed in with the standard “”Hello.””
In doing this, Evans livened up the atmosphere on the Regents East shuttle, amusing some, if not all of the passengers.
Even the ones who didn’t find her funny didn’t complain about it; Evans was not reprimanded because of any customer complaints.
Her superior’s decision to ban the pirate act came after other shuttle drivers complained that it was “”unprofessional.””
While I respect the right of Shuttle Operations to set standards for its employees and to enforce them, in this case it has made a poor decision.
There are no rules prohibiting shuttle drivers from attempting to entertain their passengers. In her act, Evans did not put anyone in danger, nor did she do anything to make her passengers doubt her ability as a driver.
Her actions may have been, as the other drivers say, “”unprofessional,”” but I don’t think that the word is very well-applied to the profession of shuttle driving.
If it were truly a professional situation requiring a professional demeanor, shuttle drivers would likely be prohibited from playing their own music, talking to friends while they drive, and waving at each other all the time.
If this were an issue of safety, I would be the first to support the transportation department. Last year, a driver on the shuttle out to East Parking bothered me not because of his appearance or his greetings but because of his total lack of safe driving skills.
There were more than a few times on that shuttle where I expected it to tip over going around a curve.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a talkative pirate over a threat to my safety any day. Perhaps the transportation department should worry less about the acting skills of its employees and more about their ability to drive.
This is much less a case of safety or of professionalism than it is a case of wanting to preserve the status quo. Evans’ co-workers and superiors, faced with an expression of individualism they hadn’t seen before, decided to reject it as different instead of judging it at face value.
From what I have been told by Evans and by the Transportation Office, this issue is still unresolved.
Evans retains her desire to brighten up the mood on the shuttle with her rendition of “”Yo ho, yo ho,”” and her superiors are still stopping her from doing so.
I personally am saddened by this because I’m tired of being bored on the shuttle.
UCSD is not the most exciting school in the world, and we should be doing all that we can to support a little bit of diversity and individuality.
If you share my sentiments and would like to see the reappearance of Pirate Debbie on the shuttle system, please call Shuttle Operations at (858) 534-6282 to voice your opinions.
You do have a say on your campus.