Friday, August 11, 2017

We Need Some Love


Sorry I've been so... seldom seen. This book project is my main focus. But then, there's also w-o-r-k to contend with. Another four-letter word ending in "k." It's wearing me down lately. Gee, I could sure use a vacation. About 35-40 years with full pay would be superb.

I recently read a study that shows transit operators to be the most depressed group of workers. I can vouch for it personally. Lately, I've been pretty blue. Wait, I'm Dekie Blue, and far from pretty. But seriously, the job has been taking its toll. If it's not management pressure to be perfect (whatever that is), it's the public's attitude toward us. People in traffic are more rude than usual. Passengers are surly. Maybe it's the weather. It sure has been hot and sticky lately. Either way, any operator is apt to wear down after a while.

A dear lady operator friend of mine this evening looked truly sad when I walked into the garage and the end of my shift. She's usually smiles and cheeriness when I see her. Tonight she looked up at me to reveal her sweet, expressive eyes were rimmed with tears. Instead of the usual "Hey how are you," I just asked if she could use a hug. She hung her head a moment and sighed. "Yeah," was all she said.

As I embraced this battle-worn lady, I felt a world of sadness all around her. She seemed empty, spent. I know what that's like, but I usually hide it pretty well. Tonight, my friend could not. So I just held her an extra few seconds. Sometimes actions are more helpful than awkward phrases nobody in that state wants to hear. I walked away silently so she couldn't see my own tear dripping downward.

On my route today, as I was scanning the side of the street, I saw a man sitting in a wheelchair. He looked up as I rolled by, and held up his middle finger at me. I'd never seen him before. He wasn't near a bus stop, so it wasn't as if I was passing him by. It was just a cruel gesture, and it summed up how many people have treated me this week. Normally, I could laugh off something so childish and silly. Today, it seemed to become a thousand-pound weight that plopped down on my already-drooping shoulders. Maybe the guy is mentally ill, or he had an imaginary friend tell him I'm an asshole. Either way, I took it as his general outlook on bus operators.

We don't just sit and roll around easy-pleasy every day. Transit is grueling, it's often painful, and it's humbling. Our management tells the media how "valued" we are, but treats us as if we're mere annoyances to be dealt with. Like pigeon shit on their expensive suits, rather than vigilant professionals who provide millions of safe rides every week. If not for US, there would be no THEM. We're no longer a team, but a divided mass of radioactive waste.

Last I heard, there have been 52 crimes (assaults, menacing, etc.) on my brothers and sisters this year. In 2016, there were 55 total. Yet management boasts how "with reported crime on the system low," they don't feel the need to issue their new lame threat of permanent exclusion. I'm so not impressed with how they're dealing with our being pummeled in the seat, spit upon, threatened and menaced just for doing our job. Let's not come down too hard on the criminals; it's easier to whip up on a few thousand union workers by not bargaining in good faith in contract negotiations.

Management keeps making noise, but it's the kind a human might make if he were three inches tall. A mere whisper among our bellowing pleas for help. Exclusions are very difficult to enforce. They could provide a board with photos and descriptions of those troublemakers, but instead choose to leave us blind. By the time help arrives, one of these battering dipshits would be long gone after beating us for refusing to give them a ride. Then they'd just catch a different bus and be in the wind again.

In their crime stats, I didn't see any incidences of management personnel being assaulted. They treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as if it doesn't exist or matter. We're suspended for leaving the seat to defend ourselves against aggressors, and sometimes no reports are taken. Their only solution is to cage us in, but they forget we have to leave the seat eventually or pee our pants.

There's a virus spreading within our ranks, and we're all catching it. So yeah, that guy flipping me off brought me down. Maybe he was a paid protester. Whatever. Back at ya, greaseball.

Ladybud in the garage tonight, no explanation necessary. I get it. Love and peace with prayers to all my ATU brothers and sisters. We could all use a hug right now.

9 comments:

  1. This is your most morose blog to date !
    1) Quit fighting the "barriers" or as you call them "cages" Do you want to be safe or Mr. Tour Guide ?
    2) Crack Heads and criminals don't usually read signs or worry about being threatened with jail time.
    3) Deke needs a vacation BIG TIME
    4) You're trying to do too many things at once. Focus on one at a time, the book, your job, your blog, but not all at once.
    5) The guy in the wheelchair may not even have the mental capacity to know that the middle finger is offensive. His heath issues may not be just physical.
    6) Deke needs a time-out. I thought the last blog was the whiskey talking but now I realize you're burned out. Makes me so sad to see the distress you are feeling. Take care there's only one you !

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    1. Sorry, but I cannot "quit fighting the barriers." They are nothing but a pretty bandaid that will provoke the assailants even more and alienate our well-behaved riders. You're right though, I NEED a vacation. Like I said, about 35-40 years. I've been working my ass off all my life with little to show for it. I'm plum wore out. Oh and I don't drink whiskey during the week. I'm not an alcoholic, just a frivolous drinker. I know what you're saying, but this blog is my venting place. Thanks for reading!

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  2. Depressed most likely from lack of sleep, it adds a skew to the day.

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  3. I hope it helps to know that as a rider, completely dependent on Trimet, I always smile real big welcoming smile as the driver approaches my stop. I'm not a natural smiler--but I'd be nowhere without y'all. You are my heroes.

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    1. Wow thanks faithful passenger! It really helps to hear that.

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  4. Hey Deke! Thanks for writing about this. More often than not lately I feel like I want to cry, sometimes while I'm driving to work, or when I'm sitting in the filthy driver's seat of that bus, or when I get home and reflect on the day. The majority of the bus-riding public don't think of us as human beings, but as little machines that simply maneuver these bigger machines through traffic, weather, etc, while getting them to their destination safely and on time. Very rarely do I hear a "good morning" said back to me or a "thank you" for getting them where they need to go safely with an unrealistic schedule to keep. It doesn't help that most of them are plugged into an electronic device and are zoned out. I do several good deeds every day to help these folks out and never hear about it. I make one little mistake and I'm up in my supervisor's office trying to defend myself. I keep saying we need a massive public education campaign to teach these inconsiderate people how to ride the bus, but it would have to be done on every social media platform available and it would have to be complete with colourful illustrations so that they would pay attention to it. I have less than 9 years until I can retire and not one day goes by that I wonder if I can do this job for that much longer. I keep reminding myself of those 3 magic words: Paycheque, benefits, and pension. We gotta hang in there Deke, and not let the morons of society or the clueless suits upstairs win. Thanks for speaking for all of us drivers, and please take care of yourself!

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    1. I hear ya Janice. Luckily, and also due to a toughness acquired from this job, I'm usually able to bounce back to my normally jovial self fairly quickly. I started writing this blog to chronicle the ups and downs of our job. Lately my tone has been gloomy. I'm hoping a much-needed vacation will help. Thanks for chiming in sister!

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    2. Hey Deke... sorry you are feeling the weight of the wored on ya,right now!!! I'd like to tell you, "this too shall pass"
      But in good conscience cannot....Bummer.
      As a 22 year driver in large ever growing Denver market, I have to echo your WOES, as those of ALL OF OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS.... I keep tabs with current friend /drivers, and unfortunately the world's attitude is declining palpably!!!
      "GIVE ME" "DO THIS " HAVE replaced the "please" and "thank you " of a few decades ago.. they call it "entitlement" I call it "WHERE'S YOUR MOMMA!" THERE is little family structure, and even when the physical body of a parent is present, the responsible concientious "PARENTING SKILLS" ARE NOT.

      ANY WAY hang in there buddy, "This too shall pass " LOL.
      ps. thanks for the memories (retired 13 years)

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    3. Madeline in FloridaAugust 16, 2017 at 7:52 PM

      The emotional ups and downs are so extreme like manic depression but it's so much more.....tangible? Anyway you're a gifted writer and I look forward to your book. Thank you.

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