Thursday, October 24, 2013

40 Days and Holding...

It has been too long since I posted, but just FYI, this full-time gig has me (once again) trying to get accustomed to the schedule. Life as a family man who drives a bus is a challenge. Of course, my family gets top priority, so this little exercise of fun gets shoved back a few pegs. However, I have been working on an entry to post here. It is a deviation from this blog's normal subject matter, but it is very important to me, therefore it needs to be shared. It is a tribute to a musician I hold in the highest esteem.

Stay tuned, and thank you for your patience. Peace be with you.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Full Time and Rollin' Along

Finger has healed, on to bigger and better things these days. Took the wife's birthday off yesterday and realized that it was my first paid day off since my last job was outsourced over four years ago! It was lovely lounging around, watching a movie, baking a cake and making her birthday dinner of Eggs Benedict. Best and tastiest Hollandaise sauce I've ever created! With my own birthday sneaking up on me soon, I can think of a dozen meals my beloved might create for me. But in the meantime it's been too long since I tortured y'all, so it's time for another long-winded tome before I head out again.

The other night it rained. Hard. First time in about three months, and it was nice. Lightning, thunder, the works. As I rolled up to the Burnside Bridge I looked out across the river at my adopted hometown and realized just how much I LOVE PORTLAND! Its people, the scenery, the strangeness that makes Portland so fun a city to live in. Then a couple of people boarded and began berating each other. Sigh. It was nice while it lasted!

My bus riders are each treated to a smile and a greeting when they board. It is my belief that they are each entitled to a smooth, trouble-free ride to their destination. With two of them arguing it makes the rest of us uncomfortable. I was in no mood for trouble. It was a holiday for crying out loud! People should have been laid back, as 99% of them were, not crabby. So I told them both to knock it off, politely. Then the back-and-forth continued, this time about whose fault it was they were arguing. I stopped and informed them my bus is not the place for their petty grievances. Both plead innocent, blaming the other for the problem. I maintained they were both assholes (not using that descriptive word, of course), and that if their shenanigans continued I would commence singing for their assigned torture and punishment. So one of them began singing a sordid tune, his tone made worse by the amount of alcohol he had consumed. Big mistake. The other then complained about his choice of entertainment.

Surely you are expecting a fiery end to this incident, but luckily the first rider exited the next stop. It should have ended the problem, but then the other decided he should move closer to the driver and berate me for letting the other harass him. I calmly told him it takes two to tango, and that I merely drive the 40,000 pound behemoth down the road. I'm not a referee, nor will I take sides. His tone made me nervous and reminded me of another drunk I had been closely associated with earlier in life. But I calmly let him know that how others affect him is his own responsibility, and all I ask is people be respectful of others while I drive. Then he exited, muttering expletives under his .25-something BAC breath. I closed the door before he could finish and continued on.

So far I've been lucky (knock on wood). I just began full time this past week. New routes, longer and later hours than usual. It takes a lot out of a person. When you have the “problem rider”, it tests your patience, customer service, and survival skills. It is hard enough to drive a bus without your cargo acting up. I have only encountered the occasional grouchy rider, and I don't know how I'll handle the severe cases until they rear their ugly heads. Hopefully my father's calm side will overshadow my mother's fiery Irish blood.

Now that I'm full time, the luck of the draw has me driving out of the Merlo garage, which is 26.4 miles from my home. My seniority number is at the bottom of the barrel, so that's how the crumbs fall. Luckily the routes I have won't be too bad (except one day on the 4), and it's only for three months until the next signup allows for others to slip in below me. In the meantime, the work at the Center garage continues. The MAX Orange line construction is proceeding, along with the remodel of the Center main building, which was built in the mid-70s. It's a mess over there, as you can see in the photos. So the bright side is I can find a parking spot easier. Once I finally get there!

It was great that team bus driver was able to fully and safely evacuate her burning bus on Highway 26 the other night. Kudos to her for acting quickly and decisively for the safety of her students. However, it meant that all westbound traffic out of downtown was completely stalled for over two hours while it was cleaned up. I was stopped on Burnside for over two hours, with nothing to do but wait it out. Luckily I didn't need to pee. I was hungry and my knee hurt, but my riders gradually got the picture and abandoned ship. So it was just the two of us: a dear lady trying to get to Fred Meyer before it closed, and myself. She boarded on Couch just before the bridge for what should have been a 10 minute ride. So we introduced ourselves and made the best of the situation. Luckily traffic moved and she was able to make it there with time to spare. Unfortunately, it took two hours longer than she bargained. All the route's westbound buses were also stuck on the same road, so no east bounders passed us for over an hour. When I finally arrived at the end of the line, it was at the same time I would have ended my route. Only my route ends at the opposite end from where I was. It had been over four hours since I'd had a break. My knees were screaming along with my empty stomach and full bladder. So after a short break I called Dispatch for instructions. Just as I figured, they asked me to make one more eastbound trip to make up for the two hours it wasn't running. No big deal, it was overtime buck$ for me! Sure was hungry when it was over though. Need to bring more snackage with me. I keep learning every day.

There have been some sweet folks riding lately, but I haven't driven the routes long enough to establish relationships yet. School is back in session and I love to tease kids, as I have three of my own. Maybe I'll have some fun today, who knows? Apologies for not having an overly-interesting entry this time, but I'm just out there doing a job. Until next time... thanks for reading and be safe out there.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Sorry to keep you waiting for the latest edition of this rag, but I injured a finger last week and it was kinda hard to type with a big fat bandage on. More on that later, but I want to thank you for reading the past few months and to encourage you to share this blog with others. It will remain ad-free as my gift to you, and also because like you I'm annoyed with ads on almost every website I visit.

In the meantime, I hope to get back to writing this weekend, and I'll tell you a few more stories, From the Driver's Side...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Holy Tualatin Batman!

I went over a thousand hits on my blog! Thanks everyone. Please feel free to comment; writers are greedy.

The Deacon

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Artistic Encounters...

Well it's only been a day, but I realized something I could share with you...

Over the winter signup, a very kind gentleman rode my bus and every time he exited, he'd give me a piece of candy in gratitude for a safe ride. When I started this new route, which is the same one going a different direction, I began the great pleasure of giving him a ride to downtown rather than from there. Arne was happy that I remembered his name, and I asked him where he was going every day he rides the bus. Turns out, he's an artist and spends considerable time at a gallery.

Hey, you know, artists are a dime a dozen, I figured. Then I went to the website and found he is anything but ordinary.

One reason I took this job is I enjoy interacting with people. I meet some fascinating personalities on a bus! So far I believe I've made some new good friends and had the pleasure of new acquaintances with others. I've given rides to people I know and hadn't seen in a long time. Once in a while I have the proverbial asswipe, but luckily they have been few and far between.

Take a gander at Arne's work if you like colorful art. Some are nudes, so don't look if the human body offends you. I can't afford to buy any of his work at the moment, but it is interesting and provoking.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sorry I haven't posted in a week or so. Getting ready for my son's high school graduation! Can't believe how fast he's grown up...

My new runs are okay. Ho hum. No new stories really, unless you count my missing a turn and having to back up the bus. Shh!

I'll be back after the weekend. One more run and I'm done for the week, and ready for a 3-day weekend, visiting with my daughter and father-in-law, and celebrating my awesome son's graduation!

Thanks for reading!