Sunday, July 22, 2007

It was the best of times...

Over the last several months I have had many incidents with UTA buses (local public transportation group). After a couple of close calls with buses, I started calling and complaining when buses were illegally coming too close to me while I was doing my best to share the road. It is very scary to have the mirror of a bus pass within inches of your head traveling 30+ mph. I called and complained many times, but to no avail, nothing seemed to change. Last week a bus went out of its way to give me space while he was passing me. I figured it was only fair to call and give a compliment, as I had given complaints. For the first time, I got feedback from the call center. They called to let me know that they appreciated my feedback (maybe they didn't appreciate the negative feedback) and to let me know that the bus driver had been sent a letter praising his behavior. Great, I was glad to hear it. Then later in the week I ran into the bus again on my commute. This time the guy was waving at me and helping me get through the town safely. In the end we both made it through the city faster than we would have had we played leap-frog like we had in the past.

I learned long ago that positive reinforcement is more effective than negative reinforcement. I like calling and giving compliments, it generally surprises them and hopefully encourages the behavior. The only problem is that it is difficult to find situations where I can positively reinforce drivers.