More than 500 people answered Wednesday’s urban etiquette question: Should you say “thank you” to the driver to the driver of a city bus as you exit?
Nearly 52 percent of Washingtonians who took the poll* said they thank drivers every single time they get off at their stop. The next largest category, “Only when you exit via the front,” received 43.5 percent of the vote. Nineteen people, or nearly 4 percent, said thanking the driver was “entirely optional.”
People who chose the “other” option tended to express gratitude based on performance and location. “Always, unless the driver screwed up, and a wave/nod if I exit from the back door,” wrote one. “Every time unless driver is rude or an unsafe driver,” wrote another. “I ride the Keller commuter bus and when my driver does a great job on the road and I safely arrive at my destination, I always say thank you and especially if they are friendly in return,” wrote yet one more.
On Twitter, several employees of the Washington Post expressed dissatisfaction with the poll’s structure.
— Mike Madden (@MikeMadden) October 21, 2015
@abeaujon yes, that’s the one i picked. i’m just saying the back of the bus thank you sayers are extremely rare.
— Joe Heim (@JoeHeim) October 21, 2015
The question of whether to say “thanks” when you’re exiting from the back door caused the most aggregation to poll-discussers, especially since exiting from the front just to say “thanks” could also be viewed as a violation of the urban compact. Steven I. Weiss asked how one might express thanks from the back door.
@abeaujon Then you’re just annoying other people in order to be perceived as polite.
— Steven I. Weiss (@steveniweiss) October 21, 2015
And finally, the arts journalist Rebecca J. Ritzel recounted a relative’s thwarted attempt to say thanks on a Kennedy Center bus, where the driver sought refuge in WETA-FM instead.
— Rebecca J. Ritzel (@rjreporter) October 21, 2015
Thank you to everyone who took the poll.
*Note: I have no idea whether the people who answered are from the Washington area or not. Let’s just say they are.