Public transport in Vilnius: survival game

Article published on Nov. 27, 2010
community published
Article published on Nov. 27, 2010
One day as I was on the way to my office with my flatmate, a bus, navigating through a traffic jam, suddenly hit the brakes, having most people grab anything they could hold onto. One passenger (approx. in her 60s) did not do it in time. She flew towards the front of the bus, lost her balance and hit the glass. Someone helped her to stand up and sit on a seat.
She was sitting there, holding her head, moaning, and people were watching what will happen next.

This is something I dislike most about the local culture. The "see what happens" attitude does not allow more effective handling of minor crimes that happen on public transport. People get pickpocketed, sometimes when it's crowded, but often because everyone is afraid to say something (you never know if the pickpocket has a knife, so these fears are not ungrounded). Insults often get unnoticed (here are some insults that an American student experienced in Vilnius). There have been cases of someone being stabbed to death in public transport - other passengers did not do anything while the fight was escalating.

In this case, again, the injured passenger was obviously alive, she did not lose her consciousness, so perhaps it didn't alarm other passengers too much. Me and my flatmate, after some discussion what would be the best way to call her an ambulance, went to her and I asked how she was (in Lithuanian). She responded (in Russian) that she hadn't had a blackout and was not feeling sick, so she didn't think she got a concussion, but was experiencing terrible pain. I turned to the driver and knocked on the glass separating him from the passengers. "Do you have a first aid kit?" I asked, mostly because I was stressed and worried - typically first aid kits are designed to treat wounds only. The driver made a gesture asking me to wait, and pulled over in the next stop. Then he went to the passenger area and straight to the suffering woman. "Show it to me... Oh, this is nothing." he said (there was really no wound), and then raised his voice to speak to other passengers, "You saw it themselves - I didn't stop the bus too fast. Nobody else fell down. You witnessed that, right?" "Sir, you will discuss it later, she needs help," I said, desperately. The driver repeated to me (in Russian) what he said to the passengers. "This person needs help! Can't you leave your discussions for later?" I shouted in Russian, already getting furious. Meanwhile, another passenger, who was getting off the bus, said, "You did stop the bus too fast. You don't behave with people that way!" The driver got into a discussion with her, trying to prove he was not to blame, and then.. got back to his seat.

Meanwhile the injured woman called her family and made sure they will pick her up at a bus stop. She didn't want to go to hospital. So we got off where we had to go, with an uneasy feeling. Of course, the whole story did not end as bad as it could have. I heard stories of people falling on top of each other and someone breaking their leg on a bus, and my own shoulder was dislocated when a bus stopped very suddenly in a traffic jam. I bet in countries where driving is even crazier it happens more often. But what struck me was this egoism, when the driver first hurried to gather witnesses and prove it was not his fault before even paying attention to the suffering of the passenger.

You may ask, how is it that I'm not used to nobody ever being responsible for anything?