Saturday, December 3, 2016

Dear Wayne

Not too long ago, I had an interesting email dialogue with a new friend, and reader of this blog. Thought I'd share it for your perusal.

Wayne,

Thank you so very much for your email. Truthfully, it’s the first contact I’ve had with a reader in quite a while. Sure, I get the occasional blog comment, but nobody seems to connect any more. We’ve lost the ability to communicate. My blogs are written with a great deal of emotion and thought, but they rarely inspire others to engage. 

Lately, I’ve considered ending the blog. At first, the response was enthusiastic. People read with interest, offered feedback and advice. Now it seems FTDS has exceeded its 15 minutes. Do people actually READ anything any more except about Hillary’s emails and Donald’s failed business ventures? It’s a cutthroat world, and it’s extremely discouraging. The working public is at each other’s throats instead of banding together to fight the big money interests which are strangling us with every election. Nobody wants to engage, unless it involves the latest America’s Got Talent contestants or sports team of the moment. The Information Age has seen us devolve into a seething mass of idiocy. Fact checking has morphed into people believing whichever brand has indoctrinated them. There is little original thought. Nobody reads Frost or Dickens or Twain, or Michener, the works of Lincoln. The level of civic undersanding is pitifully low. How can we expect our government to work for us if we don’t collectively understand how it’s supposed to? 

This also relates to book publishing. Very few people read these days. I’ve had to shorten my posts; not only because I’ve been practicing literary brevity, but also because people have such a short attention span. An editor has told me to “dummy up” my language because I “use words that are beyond the normal comprehension level.” Sigh. I remember when expressing oneself intelligently was revered. Now, it’s considered “uppity” or even outdated. To publish a book today requires funding but also a willing audience. While people around the globe have graced my blog with their eyes, how many are willing to buy an entire book written by a bus driver? I’ve found myself straying from the printed page, drawn to the IPhone and the internet like a moth to the flame. My spare time was once devoted to reading actual books. Now I piddle around on the computer as if my world revolves around it. My books gather dust. I’m not sure my publishing FTDS would garner enough interest. 

As you can see, I’m highly discouraged. My blog was meant to do one thing: chronicle the life and feelings of a bus operator. My 21-year-old son recently told me he had read a few of my posts. His critique was simple: “You bitch too much, Dad.” So I read over the previous posts and had to agree. Gone is the upbeat humor, the insights I once had. The job is no longer an interesting challenge. Instead it has become a drudgery, a paycheck. I’ve actually interviewed for another job outside of transit. Sure, I’ve hit the proverbial “wall” as a driver. There’s a chance I’ll rebound. But the future of this job is anything but rosy. Our union leadership is stagnant. They make a little noise and expect the membership to be supportive. Instead of the mighty voice labor once had, it’s more like a mousy squeak before the wheels crush it. There’s just not much to be excited about.

How you did your job for so long is hard to fathom. Having a knife stuck in me over a $2.50 fare is not how I want to leave this world. Being locked behind a cage while driving would insulate me from the very people I enjoy giving rides to. How would this give us any semblance of authority or respect?

So yeah Wayne, it was truly invigorating to get your email. I know, my response probably isn’t what you expected. But if I’m anything, I’m honest with people. This is how I feel. The book is in the editing process. The first round resulted in a 7,000-word reduction! LOL… I told you I’m practicing brevity and it’s a good thing. I sure was a wordy bastard while I wrote many of those posts. It will also include a glossary of transit terms which I hope people would find interesting. Shopping around for self-publishing companies that are actually worth the money. As for the title, I’m not quite sure yet. 

On a more positive note, I’ve started a novel. The idea for this project came about while I was drivng across the Tillikum Crossing one day. It made me chuckle, then laugh. It’s fun… something I haven’t been having enough of the past year. So stay tuned.

Seriously Wayne, thank you for reading. Most of all, thank you for caring enough to not only respond to me via email, but also to contact Rep. McLain’s office and support my brothers’ attempts to spur our legislature to action regarding operator assaults. If our own transit agency still thinks it should remain a misdemeanor to assault one of its own, then it’s time we threw a punch.

Please spread word about the blog. Since my FaceBook profile has been shut down, my reach is dwindling so I rely on readers to help get it out there. Keep an eye out for a new post… it was an interesting day on the road!

Take care and thank you again.

With affection and regards, I am

Deke

1 comment:

  1. As one who enjoys your writings and reflections, I'd miss this blog. I'd encourage you to keep writing for your own reasons and to please yourself, but quit when it becomes a chore - we'll understand.

    Sometimes a job is just a paycheck - you work to live, as they say. TriMet's "leadership" seems pretty bad, but you are better than they are. Keep on rolling!

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