Deke's Note: All day today, for the first time in a while, I had a great desire to write for you. It was so overwhelming as to be annoying. What once was a vice is now a habit. Some have stopped reading over the past several months, but many of you still do. No matter how long I go, you still read. And that's precisely why I keep doing this. Thank you. I'm too pissed off to quit now.
Ahh, my Friday night. Although I enjoyed a Thanksgiving Day off in the middle of my week, it was still long and arduous. People are COVID weary. We all want it to "just disappear" as someone said earlier this year. It has not. In fact, it has grown with abandon. Perhaps because we have lost our collective will to do battle. I'm one of the most stubborn, stick-to-my-guns people you may ever meet. It is my goal to do whatever I can to keep everyone on my bus not only welcome, but safe. Concentration on guiding The Beast is my first goal. To smoothly and professionally guide my passengers safely to their destination is not just my job. It's something I am committed to personally as well.
Each job I have held, whether typographer or fruit picker, truck driver or journalist, I have striven for perfection. This isn't because of some misguided sense of superiority, but rather a personal commitment to be as good as anyone could possibly be. Maybe it's because my mother was so dedicated to ensure my most basic early success, then as my biggest supporter. I have a personal confidence that often falls short of my expectations. No matter what I attain, there's always a nagging voice propelling me further. So now, eight years into this job, every day is a challenge to improve at least one facet of professionalism which fails my sometimes-impossible standards.
Imagine my dismay this week when a young teenaged boy refused to turn his cellphone audio off. As usual when this happens, I keyed up the mic and implored the entire bus to "Please turn your device's audio OFF while riding on the bus. I truly appreciate it, and thank you." The first refusal is but a minor annoyance. After three such announcements, each a bit more insistent than the last, the white noise continued. I wasn't sure of the culprit, but it became evident it was the fare evading teenie child in the very back seat, because he was the only one who responded to my repeated requests.
"I can barley hear it myself, asshole. Just drive the fuckin' bus."
When he said this, I was already running hot, stopped to burn time. I shut the bus off. For emphasis.
Immediately, a half-dozen sighs of impatience were audible. I was tempted to fake a breakdown, but most of my passengers were fare-paid hard working folks who just wanted to go home. Even so, I had to insist transit code be followed. If I cannot concentrate, I cannot safely operate. White noise in the form of normal conversation is okay. Anything else is contraband. Everyone besides this recently-diaper-clad child realized the necessity to adhere to public bus etiquette by not assaulting others with noise nobody else cared to hear.
Whiny Witless complained he needed to be somewhere. I informed the entire passenger load that we could continue as soon as quiet was restored. Whiny boy threw a tantrum. I was afraid he would drop to the floor and thrash all four in his tirade. Some may believe this a fault of mine: insistence my authority be respected. You're correct. A power play, to be sure. I'm tired of the disrespect of a growing number of people who cannot be bothered to even say hello, as Shift Hour Nine is nigh and my customer service skills are as frayed as Granny's gray undies.
Finally, the noise stopped. Immediately, I fired The Beast up and rolled back into service. Dispatch had called me, and I described the situation. My orders were to roll once peace was restored. If it wasn't, then I was to call again and await further instruction.
I desperately wished we were back in a day when I would have been commended for marching to the back of the bus and confronting the child for his horrid behavior. Today, that could land me in jail. Judging by a long history of mankind's abuse of children, I understand that is no longer acceptable. But someone needs to spank this brat. Nothing more, mind you. He just needs a few taps on the behind to remind him respect of his elders is not only necessary, but expected. We have lost our ability as a society to properly instruct children of their upcoming place in this world. While it is greater than it was 50 years ago, there's still a necessity for them to demonstrate proper behavior in public. Each spanking my parents gave me long ago is still remembered, along with the lesson involved. It was not abuse, it was instruction I'll never forget. I was never punished in this manner by anyone but my parents, but the mere hint of disrespect to an elder resulted in a phone conversation with them to result in a punishment I did not want to fathom.
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This incident is only one of a growing list of indecencies inflicted upon ATU members worldwide. If not insolent children, it's from adults who act as such. This growing number of insulting incidents has one cause: management borne of Corporata, rather than from within a treasure trove of experience.
For over 100 years, union members have provided exemplary transit service to our communities. Once upon a time, workers rose through the ranks to lead those they once served with. There was mutual respect, and problems were ironed out through respectful debate and reasoned resolution. Now, management is governed by a growing number of corporate nobodies who have no idea what their mistreated prisoners deal with. Those with practical experience are replaced by those with none. Unless our "leadership" have driven a city bus in service, we have no reason to respect their unrealistic "customer servicey" bullshit. They have never been spit upon, punched, threatened with guns or knives or physical violence in their post-graduate experience. White-collar failures have no place in the blue-collar world. Instead, they "work from home during a pandemic" and depend upon pie-in-the-sky corporate bullshit which has no place in real-world transit.
"The only good employee is a scared one," Laird Cusack, current head of "Human Relations" is quoted as telling ATU757 President Shirley Block.
"The greatest employee is the valued one," future GM Deke N. Blue says.
This is not a pipe dream. It's entirely possible. As a confident 17-year-old, I walked into a collegiate Journalism Department a respectful incoming freshman. I walked out of there as a two-year Editor of their student newspaper, which won more awards than any before, or since. I still have the desire, the dedication and the drive to do my best in every job I've ever held. It's time for my last job rolling into retirement with the same BANG I began with. Don't ever doubt me... I would not fail you.
Deke for GM. I'm currently writing my platform for totally reforming Rose City Transit, as it should be renamed. I encourage you to start the movement and hashtag it #Deke4GM. Just listen to this tune; it's my theme song. And stay tuned...