The black Washington, D.C., transit worker who got put on blast by an irate commuter displeased by her decision to eat a little something before work was “embarrassed” and “humiliated” by the incident, but she won’t face disciplinary action.
That’s what the worker’s union rep is telling reporters in the aftermath of last week’s tweetstorm that started after the commuter, Natasha Tynes, decided to post a photo of the worker on Twitter and call out the woman for breaking D.C. Metro’s “rules” about not eating on the train.
“She is very concerned and very embarrassed that the patron did share her photo,” Barry Hobson, the chief of staff for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, told NBC News, speaking on the bus operator’s behalf.
Hobson said the transit worker, who is not allowed to speak to the media per union contract rules, usually would not have eaten on the train, but the train was late and she was on her way to her shift driving a bus for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
“Generally, she would have gotten to her next stop and had her breakfast,” Hobson said. “But the train was late. So she thought, ‘I’m just going to throw my breakfast down now.’”
As BuzzFeed explains, DC Metro bus and train operators have very little time or opportunity to eat between their shifts transporting commuters in the Washington, D.C., metro area:
Operators have an average of 20 minutes to eat and get to their next access point to ensure buses and trains are on time, according to the union. Most operators do not have a sanitary place to have their meals due to rodents and insects in the system and a lack of break rooms at some stations, the union added.
The operator ate her breakfast on the train because she was focused on “serving her customers in a timely manner,” Hobson told BuzzFeed.
In any case, Hobson said, the bus operator wasn’t in the wrong. The head of DC Metro’s transit police had just issued an email to officers indicating that they were to stop ticketing people for a number of DC Metro infractions, including “eating” and “drinking.”
“The operator was aware of the email that came out from the head of the transit police,” Hobson told NBC.
Hobson said that the operator wishes Tynes had shown “common decency” and made a formal complaint to DC Metro directly, rather than taking her complaint to social media, where the operator “has had to endure some of the backlash made about her race, about her appearance.”
Things were so bad, the operator “was unable to enjoy Mother’s Day weekend with her children after being ‘humiliated’ by Tynes on social media,” Hobson told BuzzFeed
At least, according to Hobson, DC Metro says no action will be taken against the bus operator, who has worked for the transit agency since 2001, NBC reports.
The incident, however, did cost the complaining commuter.
In addition to being ripped on Twitter, Tynes, an aspiring author, lost her book deal after her distributor released a statement that basically read: Do better.
“Black women face a constant barrage of this kind of inappropriate behavior directed toward them and a constant policing of their bodies,” Rare Bird said in a tweet. “We think this is unacceptable and have no desire to be involved with anyone who thinks it’s acceptable to jeopardize a person’s safety and employment in this way.”