The Respect Deficit
At the end of 2017, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority launched a new ad campaign. The Authority wasn’t selling anything. It was asking, on behalf of its bus drivers, for something; something that liberal societies need in order to flourish, that underpins social equality, and that today, is in short supply: respect.
In each of the ads, a photo of a bus driver was accompanied by a biographical sketch, eg: ‘Mom. Friend. Metrobus driver’ – followed by a personal plea: ‘I hope you’ll see all the things I am and respect me, like I respect you.’
The ads were a reaction to a sharp increase in the number of drivers subjected to verbal and physical abuse in 2017. Drivers were punched, spat on, and screamed at. In one case, a woman threw a cup of her own urine (collected during the journey) at a driver. Employee injuries rose by around 50 per cent in the summer of 2017, compared with the previous year.