People of this profession get into the news bulletins with enviable regularity, and the reason for such messages is usually unflattering. Either they will drop the child out of the bus in the cold, or they will fight with the passenger.
Bank transfer does not work or there is no change from a hundred rubles – the “typical conductor” again has a passenger to blame (we are not inventing it, such a story happened in Novosibirsk two years ago). Largely because of such news, the first association with the word “conductor” for many is an overweight habalka aunt with a heavy hating look, for whom rudeness is a lifestyle. Its main purpose is to spoil the mood of the whole bus (trolleybus, tram – it doesn’t matter) for a week in advance, and if a person leaves the transport with a smile, consider that they have not coped with the work.
Although, it would seem, what is difficult in this profession? Learn to count the change, poke on the terminal buttons and add a few polite phrases to the lexicon – and here he is, the ideal conductor. The editors of the NGS set up an experiment – we sent our journalist Alyona Istomin to work as a conductor on a trolleybus. And this working day was the most terrible in her life – although she did not even have to count the change. Details are in our report.
At 06:40 am, the working day begins at the depot. I usually feel like a zombie somewhere before lunchtime, which the evil spirits have pulled out of the grave and forced to move the immobilized limbs, and when I wake up four hours earlier than usual, the eyelids completely refuse to open. The brain seems to have turned on, but for some reason it gives out a plan to either die or run away right now as its main defensive reaction. At the Gorelektrotransport depot I see about a dozen twin trolleybuses, on a whim I find the right one – under the number 1226. I fly in.
Oksana Zenkova, a conductor, was assigned to me at the depot. We will ride together with the driver Anastasia Kuzyakina. The women watch me take a drag on my cigarette and knock me out with the news that I don’t have a smoke break during work. There is often no time to go to the toilet – only at the terminal station. Even if there is a traffic jam, you sit and endure. I mentally cross out both professions – both the conductor and the driver – from the list of those that I can do.
I came across a driver from those about whom Nekrasov once wrote, only instead of a horse – a trolley bus. And there is no need for any burning hut – and without it it is clear that a woman “in trouble will not shine.” Anastasia from the age of four wanted to drive. After school, at the age of 17, she moved from the village to Novosibirsk. I wanted to work in a taxi, but they took it there only at the age of 21. The father found an ad – “a trolleybus driver is required.” But they took it only from the age of 18, I had to wait a year.
“I didn’t understand what a trolleybus was and what a tram,” Anastasia Kuzyakina recalls. – I went and said: “I need where the steering wheel is.” They took me to the tram, I said: “No, I need a steering wheel.” They gave a trolleybus. So I’ve been driving for almost 37 years already.
At first, male colleagues were wary of the female driver. Anastasia listened to the hackneyed joke about a woman driving and a grenade ten times a day. Now there are more female drivers, and there are so few men left that it’s time to joke about them.
“Before, the roads were free, there were a lot of people at the bus stops – I don’t want to work,” the driver complains. – And now the horror of what is happening. All day in these traffic jams you stand and stand.
06:53 – the trolleybus starts from the depot. I work on route 23, from the “Garden of Dzerzhinsky” to the main station. From the final to the final drive exactly 33 minutes, but without traffic jams. While we are driving to the stop, the conductor Oksana Zenkova conducts a short training. The mentor usually works with all newcomers, but I still have a concession – the conductor will count the cash for me. As soon as I exhale, another blow in the stomach flies in – an inattentive conductor can get money with a terminal. It is enough to confuse button 1 (non-cash payment) and 7 (cash). The ticket will be calculated in cash, and the person will pay with the card. This means that you will need to add your hard-earned 24 rubles to the cashier. At the end of the shift, the number of tickets sold must correspond to the amount of money collected. The shortage is due to the conductor. My mentor says that it almost never happens. Skill!
The time of the end and the beginning of the trip along the route is recorded in the waybill. It is better to write down “free riders” here. Oksana explains: she never leaves the children. But if a controller comes, the number of tickets must match the number of passengers. Otherwise, a fine.
– If he has no money, where will he get it? – the woman argues. – Well, he will get out at the next stop, but he will not get money from this. And what should he do?
Usually, when I travel in transport, I always look at other passengers. I notice interesting hairstyles, unusual bags, dresses, tattoos, cut eyes and just cute people – I just love everything beautiful. This time I didn’t see people at all. I just had no time to look at them. I don’t remember a single person. Only hands, many hands.
First stop. I run to the passenger. The hands are shaky. I just can’t seem to rip off the ticket properly. Oksana is nervous. I heard: “The doors are opening,” and I still have about five people from the first stop did not receive their tickets. I stumble over my own laces, almost falling. Oksana irritably takes the terminal away from me. In a couple of minutes he bypasses passengers and explains: the salary of both the driver and the conductor depends on the quick and correct work of the conductor.
For one ticket they receive 1 ruble 15 kopecks. The fulfilled norm of 650 tickets is plus 40% to payment. It seems like a penny. But Oksana Zenkova has at least 30 thousand rubles a month.
– We also have those who receive nine thousand. Do you understand why? – the conductor purses his lips disapprovingly. “They don’t want to work, they don’t go on a flight, they’ll stay at home for a month, and then they complain: we received something wrong. And there are those who are already quite. They take the money and put it in their pocket. Their inspectors are fined, even fired. There are some we have that really hide.
Closer to 8 in the morning, the number of people decreases. The conductor pompously returns the terminal to me. According to the schedule at 10:50 am, our flight has lunch. But we do not have time to arrive at the final stop by this time due to traffic jams. The driver has a snack during stops with cooled dumplings. The conductor never sat down to eat for the entire time. And I’m with her.
– Do you understand why there are traffic jams? – Oksana grumbles. – Look how they clean up. They don’t clean at all. Because of this, everything is staked. As if the snow in Siberia unexpectedly falls every time in winter. And we suffer.
People merge. You have to go quickly from person to person. You hesitate, you can’t count everyone on the flight – some of them will leave without tickets. My head is buzzing, I don’t understand who paid, who didn’t. My mentor suggests: it is better to sit in the conductor’s place, from there it is better to see who has entered at the bus stop. Sitting. Doesn’t help much.
– You look who is giving you money and cards, come to those, – Zenkova whispers to me. – If there is a lot of work, we only look at the hands. People do not come to ride for free. And if you miss someone, it’s okay.
A guy of about 20 embarrassedly pokes at the terminal. From time to time, a refusal falls out, “there is not enough money on the card.” Oksana quietly takes my hand and takes me aside.
– It can be seen that the boy has no money, – she explains. – So what? He’s normal, apparently. It happens to everyone. Sometimes I see that a person doesn’t, I pretend that I didn’t notice him. It happens that they themselves come up to me, explain. What am I, not a man, or what?
Time passes slowly. I am already counting the hours until the end of the working day. This shift works until five in the evening. Getting around passengers seems straightforward. But when you do it from time to time, it starts to pull your back. I regret that I missed physical education lessons at school. And now I come up with all sorts of excuses for myself to pass by the fitness club. So it came back to me.
Someone says “thank you”, others silently pop in a trifle. In principle, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want everything to go smoothly. And it ended faster. I see more hands, a woman throws a card to the terminal. Refusal. I catch a commanding look with a note of bewilderment and contempt. Demanding voice: “Put it down okay, should I do it for you?” I don’t argue from fatigue. I just put my card to the terminal and move on.
I notice a lanky kid taking pictures of me on the sly. Giggles, looks at me, giggles smugly again. Not right away, but I still recognize him – this is a boy from my village, he studied at school several years younger than me. The guy’s smirks are noticed by my mentor. He sighs heavily.
“There are those who treat us as if we are second-class people,” the woman smiles sadly. – But this is the same job, we have an education, and we get it very well. Maybe a lot more than this boy. And he, by his behavior, I don’t even know … I try not to notice such people. I know that I am no worse – even though I am from the village, but I have my own profession, I am a medical worker.
Oksana has been working as a conductor for 13 years. She herself is from the Kolyvan region. She studied and worked as a nurse, but everything was closed, there was no work in the village. And then my daughter began to grow up, she had to learn. By that time, only pensioners and alcoholics remained in the village. The family moved to Novosibirsk. Oksana’s husband unlearned to become a trolleybus driver, she went to work with him. Temporarily. And it stayed that way. Already my husband has gone to work on a construction site, and the grandson will soon go to school. And that’s how she works here.
“I won’t leave myself, only if I’m fired,” the woman laughs. – I like it, I’m used to it. The work is difficult, but you get used to it and it seems normal. I like it here, that’s all. I don’t even know how to explain it to you.
A man comes into the salon with a bottle of beer. He takes a sip, takes out his phone, talks noisily. I nod at him, Oksana waves her hand – let him.
– I drive out only noisy people, here he is sitting, doing nothing, talking. He does not bother anyone, – says Zenkova. – When I was young, I ran into trouble, but now I understand: why? His task is to drive quietly, my task is to drive calmly. Others have it: there was a case, a woman bit the conductor. We had a fight over the mask. And I’m calm. I am satisfied with my passengers. I rarely have scandals. The ruble is not enough – I will carry it without the ruble. There are drunk people. But I also come across drunk intellectuals. They do not want to get involved, they will pay even faster.
The woman explains that it is better to get a reprimand for the same mask than to arrange a showdown with the passengers. The conductor thinks about the mask mode as follows: if a law is introduced, the police should monitor its observance, and not add unnecessary work to the conductors. She asks passengers without a mask to wear it, but does not insist. He also counts such.
– What’s the point? It’s just window dressing. Conscious passengers in masks, unconscious – without, – explains my mentor. – Immediately sit down and start filming. To swear with everyone? I don’t find fault with children. We offer to put on masks, but he may not have them, and he cannot take them anywhere.
– Why should I say that I am six years old? Mom, I’m seven, I went to the second grade, – the girl demandedly pulls at a pretty woman’s coat.
– I repeat once again: just keep quiet, and that’s it! The young mother hisses. Looks up, sees me. Rolls his eyes and pays for two tickets.
I go on. I notice a woman with a child, she pays for one ticket. I’m about to leave, the conductor slows me down – a girl of about ten years old. Her mother makes the same gesture with her eyes as the previous one. And he pays.
– The age of the child is what is most often deceived, yes, – Oksana sighs. – And it also happens so funny when they give one thousand, five hundred rubles. And I see hope in my eyes that I have no change. And I always have change, I always take mine myself – it’s my money. As for the rest … You know, I often don’t even count my change when there are a lot of people. People do not go to cheat. If only by mistake it works. Everyone is trying to do it with dignity.
Third hour of the day. I count down the time until the end of the work shift – infinitely long. The back does not bend. The head is spinning, nauseous. The stomach twists. I see Central Park. I remember that the borscht was cooked at home. I give the terminal to the conductor, explain: I’ll go to lunch and come back. I’ll just be in time by four, when they go to the depot and return to count the change.
– Tired? – my mentor smiles a little mockingly. – You won’t come back. Everything is so young with us. Recently a girl your age worked a day and left. I just didn’t go back to the depot. So it turns out that there are almost no young people. Mostly elderly people work. But there are many elderly people. There is a woman, she is 82 years old, and she still works.
I’m sure I’ll be back. But after dinner I fall on the bed for a minute. And I can barely open my eyes the next morning, I’m late for work. My back hurts for another three days. It seems that I failed the task – I cannot say how to actually work as a conductor, fully, all day. But I will remember this experiment forever.
Novosibirsk residents often complain about the behavior of conductors and the drivers themselves – two years ago the authorities also spoke about this. To confirm the conclusions of the officials, the NGS correspondents went to the beginning of the first shift at the tram depot, but found the most polite conductor there.