‘Honest hustle’for ZR driver Paddy
HE BELIEVES IT IS THE dog eat dog mentality and every man for himself that works against the ZR Drivers. For Monday Man Patterson “Paddy” Payne, it is the everyday hustle of trying to make an honest living that causes some of the behaviour seen on the roads.
Though Paddy did not deny that some bad apples spoiled the reputation of the whole bunch, he insisted that the ZR drivers should be given a fair break.
On and off for the past 21 years, Paddy has been working on the ZR vans, at first as a conductor then as a driver. Today he plies the very busy Route 11 from Bridgetown to Silver Sands – seven days a week.
Paddy said the job was “a lot of pressure” and he was forced at times to take a couple of months break and focus on other things. However, he said that the job got the bills paid and for that reason he kept coming back.
“At times you feel like calling it quits and going home but what keeps me doing it is three children and the knowledge that I have bills to pay,” he told the DAILY NATION.
The ZR drivers had to hustle to make a living, Paddy said, and that meant that they stopped at places other than designated bus stops. “We do not set out to do things to get report but it happens sometimes,” he said. “Some people do not stop by the bus stop, but may stop under a tree or by a little shelter and sometimes the drivers will oblige them because if they leave everyone who is not at a bus stop that is a substantial amount of money they lose.
“If there was a system implemented for ZR drivers so they can get a fixed salary maybe that practice would come to an end because the people would know if they do not get to the bus stop they will get left,” Paddy said.
Passengers could also present challenges in other ways.
“… there are some people who just want to be difficult, they get on the van, don’t want to pay, they do not ask for a ride but get in and say they do not have money and you are supposed to accept that,” he said.
He said there was no fairness to that because ZR drivers were awake at the crack of dawn to be at work for 5 a.m. until well into the night. Paddy said that for him working seven days a week is a challenge, because one can become physically burnt-out.
He said that working in the hot sun could also drain the body completely.
“Thank the lord for tint and the air-condition, because the sun does want to eat you out here and then the Ministry of Transport and Works would come and say strip the tint but sometimes it is the only protection against the blistering sun. When the sun baking down you will get sleepy and tired…,” he said.
Paddy said he did not work beyond 7 p.m. and with good reason. “I know that every day I have the lives of hundreds of people in my hands so I cannot be on the road and tired,’ he explained.“Drivers should know for sure that if they are tired they should go home and sleep, or when they see a certain time let someone else come and take over and work the van until it is time to go off the road.”
He called for all ZR drivers to come together and get things going better for them all – such as improved facilities in the River Road stand, fuel price concessions and a level playing field with regard to road taxes, licences and insurance.
“We always get penalize because there is no togetherness,” Paddy said.