The young woman, twenty-something, attractive light skinned African-American, wore bell bottomed jeans and a beige and gold designer hooded jacket. Her curly hair was piled neatly on top of her head. She boarded the bus at the same stop where I'd seen her before, but something this time was different. The navy blue smock-- the work uniform she usually wore, was missing on this day. As always, she sat near the driver and conversed with him about school, her job and her family. Without trying, I caught fragments of conversation, and this came forward from the stream of words.
"They fired me on Tuesday. Said if I couldn't work nine to three, don't bother coming in."
"That's too bad," said the sixtyish white male bus driver who often whistles while he drives.
"I was looking for another job anyway," she said.
"They knew your schedule when they hired you," said the driver.
"Yes," she agreed.
She got off the bus, at a stop different from her usual one. Memories came back, of the time she'd helped another woman carry her baby's stroller down the bus steps and told the driver: "I'm coming back, " so he wouldn't drive off without her.
After she left, I heard a dispatcher call that came through for the driver.
"Can you work tomorrow? It's your day off."
"No thanks. Can't make it tomorrow."
The driver's job is unionized. I do not know if the young woman's job was, and I also don't know the reason for the differences in the way the two workers were treated when each declined to work extra hours. Same scenario, different jobs, different workers. To draw a conclusion, I'd need more information. I have at least seven more questions for the young woman's boss. One has already been answered-- by the busdriver.
Except in cases where workers are endangering the people who depend on them, it's a sad thing when someone involuntarily and abruptly loses their livelihood. Unlike the failed CEO, who rides down to earth in a "golden parachute," the average worker has little or no safety net to stop the free fall.