Chicago Sun-Times

A Sloppy Bus Story

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Today, I did a story about possible changes to the way the CTA cleans its buses. See the

In response, I got a letter from Lisa Layher, about an incident that happened just yesterday on the Clark bus. Her letter is below.

"Last night (before the, "Bus Slop" story broke), I complained to two bus drivers on the Clark 22 route about a man that had wet his pants (#1 & #2 to be exact) that was stinking up the bus to the point that people were coughing, gagging and spraying perfume to cover it up. It's not like it only smelled near him, it was the entire bus. The first driver pulled the bus over after I asked him to, then he called for help, but no one answered (not sure who called/if he really called). Then, he said, he'd look for a police officer as he continued to drive the bus. I refused to get back on the bus citing it a health hazard and quite frankly, all around disgusting. His response to me was, "He paid his fare and there is nothing I can do!"

I looked at bus tracker and knew that I'd only need to wait 12 minutes for another bus. In fresh air, no problem. In frigid temps, no problem.

But...I do not have the luck of the Irish...low and behold after boarding another 22 bus on Clark, just a few stops later the same man boarded the bus! Which means, the first driver did somehow manage to get this man off the bus, but only to leave him free to board another. Imagine my reaction. I went to the driver of the second bus and made the same complaint. She was actually very rude and told me that she will do nothing as "he paid his fare." I went to tell the rest of the bus what she'd said and everyone was shocked. So, they rode in stink to their destinations and I snapped a shot of him slumped over in his own feces and was hoping to file a complaint somewhere! I walked the rest of the way home, in complete disgust. But, I feel I can't do anything about the fact that today, people will ride at least two buses that have seats contaminated with a grown man's feces, urine and overall bad smell from a lack of bathing. There is more...a woman riding inthe back of the bus told me as I was exiting that he'd been riding that same bus route for over a week in the same clothes/condition. So, that opens up another can of worms, clearly, he is not stable and really needs help. But, who is going to help this man? It's depressing, disgusting, disheartening and now it'll get even worse as there are going to be even less folks to clean the CTA buses!

Needless to day, I drove to work today. It'll cost me $26 vs. $4.50, but honestly, it's worth it!"

Lisa Layher

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Has it occurred to you that perhaps this man has nowhere else to go? That he may not be sufficiently in control of his faculties to get help for himself?

Ask yourself: What must such a person's life be like? What must their day-to-day experience be?

I do not believe this man asked to be this way. I don't think that at any time during his life, he woke up one morning and said "I know--I wanna be the guy who rides the CTA while sitting in a pool of my own excrement!"

Yes, the CTA should act in such a situation; there should be (maybe there is) some liaison between the CTA and the Human Services departments, something that could get help for this man and the many like him.

When I encounter someone like this on the bus or train? Sure, I cover my nose and wish the stench would disappear. But I also think There but for the grace of God go I... And if I can (if we're in the three-foot area of the city where my phone gets reception) I call 311 and report it. Sure, the city probably won't do anything--but then again, they might.

Just my feelings on the matter, anyway.

Lisa, Chicago with its surrounding suburbs has a little over nine million people living in close proximity to one another.

How many police personnel do you believe we have to come out for a poop incident?

You admonish Robert but as he stated, "It's a BIG city!" The driver cannot remove a paying customer who is causing no disturbance simply because she / he may smell funny to other riders. Had the thought occurred what the driver was putting up with and your destination was only a few more blocks of discomfort away?

I believe Ms. Wisniewski is wrong to post a picture of someone simply sleeping with no visible stains of feces showing. He paid his fare and not bothering anyone. Mary, this is bias reporting if not there to confirm it.

BTW Lisa, I noticed you mentioned the $26 dollars paid for parking. How lucky some of us are when in a tizzy and can afford 5.8 times the amount of a CTA fare this gentleman obviously cannot afford nor I.

Some of us are truly blessed but complain even in the midst of a minor trial or tribulation.

My last point, YOU HAVE A CAR? Stop riding CTA and drive your car! Problem solve!!

Lisa-I agree with Robert. Being in close quarters with poop is just a perk of living in Chicago. They even promote it in the visitors guide!

Lisa! I'm thinking that maybe the picture is of Robert......

Robert! I have lived in the city for 15 years and have never encountered something so disturbing. I hope on your way home from work today, you get a seat that has been pooped in since you seem to be such a party pooper :) When I took the picture, I was asking the bus driver to do her job -- call the police and get this man some help so thanks for your advice.

Lady ! I think you're just making a big stink over nothing ! It's the city you chose to live in so get over it or next time, just use your cell phone to call the police yourself instead of taking photos with it.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mary Wisniewski published on March 18, 2010 12:17 PM.

Those Crazy Male Drivers was the previous entry in this blog.

The Cranky Commuter and Stair-Sitters is the next entry in this blog.

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