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Thread: STM bus driver refuses to speak English to passenger, calls police

  1. #1
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    STM bus driver refuses to speak English to passenger, calls police

    Passengers kicked off bus after man asks driver for time – in English

    MONTREAL – At least now he knows how to say "Quelle heure est-il?"

    Muhammad Ahmad Munir, a master's student from Pakistan studying at McGill University, was kicked off the No. 66 bus at 6:45 Friday morning after he asked the driver what the time was in English.

    "I got on the bus and I didn't have a watch, so I asked the driver for the time," he said. "She started talking in French and I didn't understand what she was saying."

    The 32-year-old native of Islamabad came to Montreal a few months ago to enroll in a master's degree program in Islamic studies at McGill.

    After twice telling the bus driver he didn't understand French, she responded in English, saying: "I don't speak English."

    "I then told her that she just showed me that she does speak English, and that's when she really got angry."

    Munir said when he insisted on being served in English, the bus driver pressed a button to phone police, and proceeded to tell all the passengers to get off the bus. The bus was stopped at the terminus on Côte St. Luc Rd. at the corner of Walkley Ave. There were about 20 people on board the bus, Munir said.

    Constable Yannick Ouimet confirmed the Montreal police received a call from the driver about a passenger who was being aggressive.

    Reached Friday afternoon, Société de transport de Montréal spokesperson Isabelle Tremblay said the incident is under investigation.

    Notre Dame de Grâce resident Linda Whitehall, who was waiting to get on the bus, said the driver must have phoned her colleague on the next bus because when it came, its driver would not open the doors for anyone waiting at the stop. Whitehall, who works at the Montreal General Hospital, was late as a result of the incident, and was forced to take an alternate bus.

    "I was so embarrassed," Whitehall said. "This is the first time I have ever been embarrassed to be a Quebecer. Everyone was outraged over this."

    Munir said he was upset about the incident, but it hasn't turned him off Montreal.

    "I know for the most part, people are not like this," he said. "I haven't had a problem with anyone else since coming here."

    Munir said coming from Pakistan, he understands the need to preserve the French language.

    "In Quebec, they really have saved the culture very well," he said. "In Pakistan, we have lost our Urdu language, so on this point, I can appreciate the insistence on language, but there should be more tolerance for others."

    Munir, who speaks Punjabi, Urdu, Arabic, and English, said he has tried to speak French, but so far can only manage a few words.

    "I can say 'bonjour,' and I even said 'bonjour' to her, but I can't put together a complete sentence," he said.

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/...769/story.html

  2. #2

    Unhappy Welcome to Montreal

    That's one of the bad things here in Montreal. unfortunately.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bat-Man View Post
    That's one of the bad things here in Montreal. unfortunately.
    What?? Bigotry? Racism?

  4. #4

    Red face What Time Is It?

    Time to get a watch?

    Time after all is universal, not linguistic. Any two people can communicate such a very simple request simply by one pointing to their wrist while the other shows their watch.

    Really an example of people who lack social graces. One does not have a dinky watch that costs all of $10.00 while the other does not have the basic skills of dealing with the public.
    Creating an incident out of nothing.

    Worst case scenario is that he was late already so what is to be gained? Bus was not going to get there faster whether he had the time or not and arguing about things would not help matters. On the other hand the busdriver has a very simple job that pays well.Show him your watch and everyone is happy while drive your bus.
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  5. #5
    Unfortunately this sort of crap happens all too often in Montreal but it rarely makes the papers. Imagine if this gets picked up off the wire services and US papers decide to publish it? It really makes Montreal look like a great tourist destination for unilingual English speaking tourists who are mainly from the US, doesn't it?

    I've said it before and I'll say it again...anyone who's paid by any level of government and deals with the public in Montreal should be bilingual. Whether it's a police officer, fireman, doctor, nurse or anyone in the transit system whether a ticket taker or bus driver. If you deal with the public, you should be able to speak both languages.

    This is just embarrassing.

    Techman
    And the Lord said unto John, "Come forth and receive eternal life." But John came fifth and won a toaster.

  6. #6

    Exclamation

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Holliday View Post
    [U]
    The 32-year-old native of Islamabad came to Montreal a few months ago to enroll in a master's degree program in Islamic studies at McGill.

    After twice telling the bus driver he didn't understand French, she responded in English, saying: "I don't speak English."

    "I then told her that she just showed me that she does speak English, and that's when she really got angry."

    Munir said when he insisted on being served in English, the bus driver pressed a button to phone police, and proceeded to tell all the passengers to get off the bus.

    Constable Yannick Ouimet confirmed the Montreal police received a call from the driver about a passenger who was being aggressive.

    Munir said coming from Pakistan, he understands the need to preserve the French language.

    "In Quebec, they really have saved the culture very well," he said. "In Pakistan, we have lost our Urdu language, so on this point, I can appreciate the insistence on language, but there should be more tolerance for others."

    Munir, who speaks Punjabi, Urdu, Arabic, and English, said he has tried to speak French, but so far can only manage a few words.
    I've editted out a little bit of the story here after reviewing both Doc's & EE's (edited to include Techman's post) posts. Am I the only one here who see's a "fox in the hen house"? Is there a familiar pattern here? Frankly, I've found the Quebecers to be among the most tollerant people around.

    Note: This is specifically NOT a dig at Doc, EE or Techman
    Last edited by CS Martin; 09-06-2009 at 06:35 PM.

  7. #7
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    Well personally i have mix feeling over this.

    I think the guy should have stoped asking when the driver said she was not speaking english. "I don't speak english" dosen't mean you can carry a conversation. I can say commo estas in spanish, dosen't mean i speak it.

    On the other end sure the driver overeacted, but some are probably nervous, i would be nervous if i drived bus in montreal, wich is a place where Al Quaida can attack if they want to, its one of the usual target...

    Anyway if the bus driver would have answer like that to me, i would have just sit back and be like "Okaaayyyy...." and think how an b*tch she was" but thats it.
    Life is a party ! Death is the Hangover.. 70-49-6

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by eastender View Post
    Show him your watch and everyone is happy while drive your bus.
    Well,

    If the driver doesn't speak English and the guy was clearly indicating a question about time somehow, then the answer is that simple.

    Being able to say "I don't speak English" doesn't mean anything. I can say: je ne parle pas Francais. But I don't speak French very well.

    The really poor part is taking it out on the other passengers, and getting another bus driver to prevent people who had nothing to do with this incident from getting on another bus. Someone should be going to the unemployment office just escalating the incident out of proportion. This driver doesn't have or doesn't want to use common sense skills necessary for the job.

    Quote Originally Posted by Techman View Post
    I've said it before and I'll say it again...anyone who's paid by any level of government and deals with the public in Montreal should be bilingual. Whether it's a police officer, fireman, doctor, nurse or anyone in the transit system whether a ticket taker or bus driver. If you deal with the public, you should be able to speak both languages.

    This is just embarrassing.

    Techman
    Yes, that makes sense but, bus drivers aren't supposed to be tour guides either. And in some American cities the situation could involve several more than two languages. But, despite the language element I think this incident is much more about bad attitude and poor decisions on how to handle the issue.

    Of course I am going by this story as reported. If there is something else going on...well...

    Quote Originally Posted by CS Martin View Post
    I've editted out a little bit of the story here after reviewing both Doc's & EE's (edited to include Techman's post) posts. Am I the only one here who see's a "fox in the hen house"? Is there a familiar pattern here? Frankly, I've found the Quebecers to be among the most tollerant people around.

    Note: This is specifically NOT a dig at Doc, EE or Techman
    I do know enough French to avoid these problems. Despite that, as it is everywhere else, there are individuals who are rude or whose views or attitudes are hostile. Quebecers have been good to me, but there are some "real prizes" out there too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Halloween Mike View Post
    On the other end sure the driver overeacted, but some are probably nervous, i would be nervous if i drived bus in montreal, wich is a place where Al Quaida can attack if they want to, its one of the usual target...
    Are you serious. How silly.

    Nuts,

    Merlot

    PS Boys and Girls,

    Sometimes I rush off to work without my watch because I'm in a hurry...or...by sheer coincidence my watch just happened to stop on the first day I got to Montreal during my last trip. Little stuff happens like that. It doesn't mean one should escalate a request for time to kicking off all passengers then having others barred from another bus.
    Last edited by Merlot; 09-06-2009 at 07:13 PM.

  9. #9
    Maybe even though he said he didn't speak english in english, maybe he didn't know english

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h15OWCnZVL4


    And more

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OalYspN5v7M

  10. #10
    Thats stupid I hope the bus driver gets fired what a bitch

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Halloween Mike View Post
    On the other end sure the driver overeacted, but some are probably nervous, i would be nervous if i drived bus in montreal, wich is a place where Al Quaida can attack if they want to, its one of the usual target...
    Seriously what does this have to do with Al-Qaida? Would you even mention it if the guy in question was a white guy demanding service in English?
    Last edited by rollingstone; 09-06-2009 at 06:54 PM. Reason: removed foul language

  12. #12
    I agree that the driver overreacted, but I gotta wonder about this guy.

    WhoTF asks a bus driver for the time?

    Research your route online. Make sure to wear a watch. Prepare as much as possible while minimizing interaction with public transit employees.

    Um, they're not exactly going to coddle you like a car or mattress salesman, someone who really wants your sale.

  13. #13
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    Nonverbal requests

    No words need to have been spoken in any language. You can simply point at your wrist as a universal nonverbal cue to have the person show you their watch. But I think this guy, if he is a grad student at McGill, should buy a watch lest he be late for any of his classes. In grad school it is generally a good idea to attend your classes and be on time for them.
    Last edited by EagerBeaver; 09-06-2009 at 07:05 PM.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by rollingstone View Post
    Seriously what does this have to do with Al-Qaida? Would you even mention it if the guy in question was a white guy demanding service in English?
    lol, i agree, come on now.. al-quaida?!

    all workers serving the public should be bilingual. "what time is it?" is such a common term, i can't believe all this fuss over something so inconsequential.

  15. #15
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    Salut, moi je suis changeur dans le métro de Montréal (le gars qui vend des billets dans une cage) et je peux vous dire que certaines personnes réagissent violemment quand je leur réponds que ne parles pas l'anglais, le ''speak english we are in Canada'' et le ''speak white'' sont des réponses que j'ai souvent et elles ne viennent pas de touristes en visite dans la ville, qui souvent se donnent la peine de me demander des renseignements en francais svp !!!...mais de résidents de Montréal qui ne se donnent pas la peine d'apprendre le français pcq ils peuvent se faire servir en anglais et travailler en anglais. Je ne connais pas leurs raisons qui les poussent a s'isoler des 80% de francophones qui constituent la population du Québec, peut être que de sortir de leur ghetto pourrait les aider a comprendre ou ils sont venus vivre, la moindre des choses. L'anglais n'est aucunement nécessaire pour travailler a la STM et il n'est pas obligatoire, comme dans les autres services publiques. Ceci est conforme a la loi 101 qui est en vigueur sur le territoire du Québec.
    Il y a des centaines d'agressions verbales et physiques commis contre les chauffeurs chaque année alors il peut être normal que certains d'entre eux soient nerveux et rapides a déclencher le système d'alarme dans l'autobus, si tout le monde respirait un peu par le nez tout irait tellement mieux, je comprends que la vie d'aujourd'hui soit stressante, mais ce n'est pas une raison pour s'en prendre a quelqu'un qui fait de son mieux en conduisant un véhicule de 40 pieds rempli de passagers dans la jungle urbaine a se faire couper le chemin par des vélos, pietons automobiles et camions.

    Montréal est la 2eme plus grande ville française du monde et c'est notre charme, notre avantage notre différence.
    You know "that look" women get when they want sex? Me neither. - Steve Martin

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