Sunday, April 22, 2018

Goodbye My Ass... I'm BACK!


Guess I just couldn't stay away after all. It was well past a necessary break from creative bliss, no matter how much a habit it might be. I'm back, rested, revitalized, and ready to give it another go.

This blog has evolved with me through five years of my career as a bus operator. At first, I was eager to describe something new. As it progressed, the down side reared its ugly head and my first instinct was to describe everything I saw. The seamier side of transit dragged me down into despair many a time, but a stubborn Irish resilience brought me back up again. All I wanted to do was document what it's like to be US. It's become evident that this part of the mission has been accomplished.

The past four weeks have been spent in various states of relaxation and introspection. When you write, creative exhaustion can wreak havoc on the psyche. Mine came crashing down all at once, as I'm sure you noticed. Describing this all fits into the FTDS scheme. Since I'm a "writer who drives a bus for a living," it's imperative that you read what happens on both sides of the yellow line. It seems I just needed to put the writing aside for a few weeks, live in the moment and forget the impulses that have followed me throughout this carnival ride. It was tough. I wanted to write to you so badly I had to force myself to ignore this keyboard. After all, I wrote early and so often this blogger refused to "write just to write." I wanted to have something new to say instead of pounding these keys with repetitive mind bubbles.

When you've driven a bus for five years, you're just leaving rookie status and heading into veteran territory. Of course, to many who have decades of service, I'm still "just a kid." Yet, it's a much different world out there as I roll into the hind end of my first decade. Part of my recent literary psychosis is nothing seems new any more. Very little surprises me. Innovative post ideas have been elusive. Perhaps I was just trying too hard, because as I drove during my hiatus, plenty of gems came to mind. It took a strong dose of humility to quash them. I wanted a new direction, not the boring and predictable.

Sometimes, a rest itself is enough to help the ideas flow again. In two weeks, Deke turns five years old. I've started my second book, a step toward fiction that began 20 years ago and came about last year as I tooled along the Tillikum Bridge one fine summer's day. Now that I've accepted that JUST DRIVE remains a slight blip on the literary radar, new directions are beckoning. Leaving this blog behind isn't gonna happen. It wouldn't be very nice to leave you hanging like when the network cancelled "Northern Exposure" without a finale. FTDS is just too much fun. So you're stuck with me... as long as you keep reading.

It's funny, but I've become entranced by a TV show called "Sons of Anarchy." The writing is good, and it keeps drawing me in. Not violent by nature, I tend to shy away from such stories. Branching out from what makes me feel comfortable tends to shred inhibitions and help me find new avenues of creativity. Watching TV is something I've avoided the past decade because of the inherent violence embraced by American society. Hurting or destroying others has always turned me off; I prefer to celebrate the positive in our collective soul. Isolation doesn't always inspire innovation. Sometimes you just gotta ride, baby. The way SAMCRO deals with constant catastrophe reminds me of my own life. Each time I step up the ladder, some asshole tends to kick me down again. Still, I tend to stand back up, say "FUCK YOU," and start climbing again. It's just stubbornness, I reckon. That's what I need to tap into again, to keep this blog relevant.

So here I come again. Hopefully, I'll regain some of the creativity that spawned "Twitterpated" and other gems. For now, I'll refrain from picking on management (too often) because that dog can't be trained no matter how many times its follies roll over. Our union officers are up for election this year, and I won't pick sides. Sorry, but I was trained on journalism. Those running for office are welcome to tell me their platforms, and maybe I'll interview a few. My choices will remain private and I won't get in the middle of a political firestorm. This ol' dawg tends to like several of those running for office, and making up my own mind is going to be one helluva challenge. The important thing is that this election should be about issues, not personalities. What can you do to help us all? Mudslinging won't get you my vote... positive ambition is preferable.

Hopefully, by this fall, I'm going to have an interesting series of posts dealing with the mechanical side of operations. We're a dysfunctional family, but we need to understand each other better. There are many questions I have for our brothers and sisters who keep our rides humming. With any luck, I'll be able to make it fun and interesting while learning a few things along the way.

OK, so now I'm wandering. Jameson's tends to have that effect on me. Most importantly, I'm back. Thanks for being patient with my self-indulgent wandering as I pondered the future. Now watch out. Deke has some new boots to test management's ludicrous policies, and it's time to do some kickin'. Stay tuned...



Monday, March 26, 2018

Contemplating Goodbye

"What happened to Deke?" a fellow driver asked me recently.

"He's on vacation," I replied.

It was a question I've asked myself quite often these days. This alter ego has its difficulties. After nearly five years as a blogger, the well is running a bit dry. Looking back, I've done a lot more bitching than describing this transit life. Promising more than I've delivered, it seems. So Deke has been reflecting, trying to find the writer's niche he once hit upon with a vengeance. It has been difficult to find my voice again.

When I began, life as a bus operator was new. I was excited to describe what I saw, felt and learned. These days, nothing is exciting. It's all the same old droll scene, rolled into a collection of similar runs and monotonous days. Once you've learned a gig, it becomes second nature. People are who they will be, and they offer little in surprises after a while. The bus tends to drive itself, with the human touch keeping it out of danger's meandering path. My mind wanders a lot now. Although I'm constantly scanning, it seems automatic. This writer's muse will take over, but without a free hand to record thoughts, they come and go like a cloud's shadow rolling across the Willamette. Later, the idea will return, but it doesn't seem as noteworthy as it had before. If it sticks, I'll write it into my ever-present notebook. Once I touch the keys, it doesn't seem as poignant as originally imagined.

It could be that I'm such a Portlander now, that those amazing things I saw as a newbie no longer register as out of the ordinary. That really sucks. I'm the kind of person who enjoys finding joy in the simplest points of any view. Very little surprises me now, and that's unsettling. One reader told me I use "too many big words" when I aim high. That was an insult to bus operators everywhere, as if we're a bunch of simpletons who never read above a fourth-grade level. Many of my co-workers are highly intelligent, have been successful in other careers, or have driven bus for 20-30 years and soar intellectually above the average blue collar worker. I know operators who are so much smarter than I am, it's sometimes embarrassing to ask if they read my blog. But you know what? I've always written this way. As JuneBug said, I write the way I talk. If you don't like it, there's nothing I can write (or say) to change that. Life can often be a dog's butt cheek.

At this point, there's a lot of (self-induced) pressure to produce something that doesn't sound like I'm a grouchy bus driver. Producing my book was a serious lesson in humility. It made me cringe to read some of those early posts, but I kept their original flavor because this blog (and the book) was meant to chronicle the progression from trainee to hardened operator. My problem now is how to find things to write to soften that outer core. Driving the bus in difficult situations is no longer an issue. Handling difficult people remains a challenge, but nothing truly surprises me. As for picking on management, it seems to remain the same even when the faces change. Their attitude remains a constant, no matter how much I lambaste them. Resistance, as The Borg said, is "futile."


Many wonder why I've held on to "Deke" so long now. The answer is that being a public figure would be too distracting. I've seen people bring JUST DRIVE - Life in the Bus Lane onto my bus. If they knew I was the author, it would be too tempting for ego to take over my bus. It's the artist's nature to discuss his work, and to be recognized for it. But I'm entrusted daily with the safety of hundreds of people. My mind needs to focus on this vital point; everything else is secondary. To boast could be dangerous; to bask could be deadly. My ego isn't as important as safety. So I often just let those books sail past, and let my ego quietly pet itself. Besides, it's more satisfying to me that my words are being read; the fact that I wrote them is a distant second.

I'm sorry these posts have lately been so self-indulgent. I'm at a crossroads in my literary gig. Facing my 40th high school reunion, certain parts of my life have come up for review. This bloggery is but one of them. As I write this, I'm watching an Eagles concert from 1977. It was recorded when I was a testosterone-driven teenager busily cruising Main Street and finding every excuse to make out with my girlfriend. Back then, writing was fresh, and I knew it was what I wanted to do. Yet, in the scheme of needful things, it wasn't as important as getting laid, hanging with my buds, and contemplating a narrow path through the void. Nights back then were long, they were fun; today they are ordinary, and whisper past me like the voice of a long-dead friend. My life's days seem more pointedly numbered; back then, the moon was new. Now I look at our satellite with different eyes, even though it's remained the same while I've aged much more quickly.

"She wonders how life got this crazy. She thinks about a friend she knew in school. Did she get tired, or did she just get lazy? She's so far gone, she feels just like a fool." -- Don Henley and Glenn Frey

Yeah, I often feel like that Lyin' Eyes girl. If I've reached the pinnacle describing my job, then to continue could be construed as just hanging on. Not being able to describe this journey with anything but excitement and wonder might just bore you. It's a conundrum (sorry, big word there). Should I just lay off, wander on new word journeys, and visit here when I truly have something worthwhile to share? Maybe one of my new brothers and sisters could begin their own journal, take the baton and run with it. Perhaps a simple break is in order. I do have other writing projects on hold. Problem is, this blog has become such a part of me it's hard to let go. It seems however, that it's become more important to me than it has the readership at large. Hits are shrinking, interest is waning. Is this a hint that it's time for Deke to sail off into a rare yet brilliant Oregon sunset? I really don't want to, but  there are more vital things I could do.

There is one blogger I really enjoy reading. Robert at BusTropical.org does a wonderful job describing exactly what driving a run feels like. You can almost smell the Florida coast and hear his passengers as you cruise along with his posts. He's been a great supporter of my blog, and wrote a nice blurb in the book. You should really check out his writing.

Mystery is a delicious tonic. I'll just remain anonymous as I sail with prevailing winds. Yeah, sometimes I tell people (with a wink and a smile, delivered with a Deke business card) who I am, and hope they read the book. Mostly, I just put out my best Tommy Chong voice and say "Yeah, I know that dude, maaan." Either way, it's been a fun ride, and I thank you all for sticking with me. Hard as it may be, it's time Deke saddled up. I'm sitting in a rut, and if I don't ride in a new direction, my steed could get stuck.

Linda Ronstadt has long been my favorite female vocalist. Not only have I always admired her impressive voice, but she was never afraid to break away from what people expected. She tackled different styles, explored avenues that interested her, and always excelled. Refusing to be typecast, she was a brave artist. If she failed to impress, it didn't bother her. The journey itself was more important to her than simply enjoying the view.

An artist is expected to branch out, to constantly improve. Now that I've had 215,000 hits and sold z-amount of books as a transit blogger, the time has come for me to find that elusive new groove. It's something I've put off for quite a while, but hangers-on never seem to move forward. Procrastination has always been my biggest fault. But my time is running shorter. I've always been one to push myself to unexpected limits, and I'm ready to (once again) take the road less travelled. I hope you have enjoyed this ride enough to follow wherever it takes me.

Peace be with you my friends, and safe travels wherever you roll. I'll be back, but for now it's time for a break.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Union Strong, or Individuals Weak

Up until now, I've regaled you with stories of an infant bus operator finding maturity in this job. Surely, my motives were misguided. It was my hope that vast numbers of you would buy my book. It is very poor of me to expect this, to secretly wish my words would give me a bump in pay, the chance of a more prosperous future on the backs of the very people I toil with in this struggle to keep a roof over my head.

This is my confession. It comes with the understanding that to mirror the motives of our financial lords goes against everything I have ever stood for, or believed in. Some say, if you can't beat 'em, perhaps you should join 'em. This however doesn't provide us with the opportunity to grow our souls in an honorable manner. It only allies us with those who have lorded over the common people for millennia. Such behavior does nothing to further the notion of equality and justice, or prosperity, for all who strive to achieve it.

Brothers and sisters, we are poised at the most crucial divide humanity has ever known. We've been fooled into fighting amongst each other while the puppet masters pull our strings and insist we aim our weapons inward, toward our collective selves. It's time to rise up against the tyranny, to insist that a majority rules rather than the slimmest of immoral numbers not get the best of US.

History illustrates many mistakes of the conquered, the most glaring being the ability of a diverse mass of people to force change with unanimous insistence. We're told to argue the points which humans have learned to hold most dear. Religion, certain "rights," race, and the silliest of all, "social standing." It keeps us fighting each other, while the shenanigans of those with the most go largely unchallenged. These string-holders have become so masterful at encouraging our collective internal warfare that we become aligned with the wolves who encircle us, ready to tear our limbs asunder and feast upon whatever spoils we leave them. We devour each other along with those who encouraged it, and are so mad with hatred that we don't see the bloodthirsty beasts encouraging the feeding frenzy.

A few thousand years ago, this battle was less "civilized." The masters pitted man versus man in large amphitheaters. It was entertaining to them to watch us kill each other. The "fans" cheered the disgusting carnage in fear that if they didn't join the blood lust, their masters would feed them to the same fate they witnessed. Today, they use the media, internet, and a religious divide to accomplish their goals. As a result, less than one percent of the world's masses hold a masterful grip on its wealth.

Unions came into true power during the Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s and early 1900s, when workers rose to demand better working conditions and fair wages. They marched into power during the Industrial Revolution, giving rise to the powerful force that would become the Teamsters and others. The union I'm proudly a member of, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), was founded in 1892. It quickly won concessions for streetcar workers, who were exposed to weather elements until they won negotiations and their control stations were enclosed. It currently represents nearly 200,000 transit workers in the United States and Canada.


After World War II, unions became even more powerful as they demanded better working conditions for many in the working middle class who performed the tasks which fueled the booming economy. Toward the end of the 20th century, unions came under fire from those who had benefited most from the sweat and blood of front line workers. Greed fueled a massive campaign to discredit unions, and many were convinced to turn away from the only lobby that worked for them. To this day, many in the dwindling middle class believe unions are a negative force that should be abolished. Unfortunately, they are also convinced that those who want them to agree with this have their best interests at heart. It's obvious to anyone who can see forests through the trees, that these powerful bastards don't give a damn about those who fight their battles.

We have a national disaster looming, and it's not any foreign battlefield. We're at war with ourselves, with the very soul of what makes America a wonderful place to live. I look at my brothers and sisters with respect and admiration, for I know the struggles we all face. We differ politically, yet both major parties need to be abandoned. We need to stop fighting what we're expected to fight about, and begin a new battle: that age-old warfare of those who have little versus those who stole the rest.

I care little about religion, but much for our souls. Treat others with dignity, keep all organized religion out of politics, and work together for the common good. It's simple. We've lost the ability to send Mr. Smith to Washington. It's now controlled by corporations and power brokers. The power to self-govern is all but an outdated silly notion. We pledge allegiance to a flag owned by lobbyists and those who pay them.

When I hear of low voter turnouts, it makes me sick. Some say their votes "don't count." When you don't vote, your voice is most assuredly lost. When decent people running for office are beaten by corporatists with deep pockets, we all lose. Our country is full of wonderful people who have the potential to take our country back. However, we're bullied by Big Money into believing this notion is but a fairy tale. Mr. Smith has no chance unless we give it back to him. Supporting the status quo won't do the trick.

Another problem which spells doom for our freedom is the time we spend being spoon-fed "news" that merely supports our stubborn beliefs. Few are willing to challenge the norm... honestly. What we're seeing in today's political circus is a web of misinformation propagated by Russia or China, our own corporate kahunas, and the worldwide power brokers. Choose your poison, and you'll be fed accordingly. Keep religious and political factions fighting, encourage vicious social division; the spoils are eaten whilst we argue with and kill one another. Divide and conquer. There ya go.


So yeah, I wrote a book about what it's like to drive a bus. Big whoop, evidently. The corporate media has largely ignored it because... the voice of the "little guy" is supposed to be ignored. Academia won't likely recognize a largely self-taught writer without an agent and large publishing firm backing him up. I turned to you as my main marketing focus, and a precious few of my loyal readers have purchased and (hopefully) enjoyed it. Sure, I never expected to be on Oprah's reading list, or trumpeted by the NY Times, but a tiny whisper within me asked, "why not?"

Instead of trying to become widely-read, it has become clear that my focus should be to work toward uniting US in an effort to win back the spoils which millions of workers, and those who toiled before we came, have bled and sweated for. It is nobler to shout a worthwhile message to a few and hope it grows into an audible roar, than to sit back and wish it would happen.

I say to you all who read this: do not sit back and let the wheels of a few crush us all into the dust. Fight for the best in all of us. Don't agree with your co-worker on politics or religion? Cast it aside and find what you agree upon. There are common ideals residing within us that genetics endowed us with long ago. We have more to fight for than against. If we allow the rascals to continue their ruinous rule, humans are doomed. We can't seem to help ourselves. I believe, however, that we capable of doing great things, if we can only let loose of what's "expected" and strive for what's "possible."

God only asks that we love one another. Only mankind expects us to hate. Religions were invented by man. If there truly is but one God, there are about eight billion ways of seeing this deity. Love is internal, yet we can share it. Why then must we fight each other, when the opposite is what is expected of us? Think about this when you next cast a ballot... union, local or national elections... see the person's motives who asks your support. Is this person brought to you by Big Money, or do they march door-to-door with truth and honesty on their side?


It's within us to force massive changes toward a common goodness. Otherwise, we're simply pawns in an ancient chess game.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Four Months into the Abyss

My fifth birthday as a blogger nears, and I'm at a loss for appropriate words. Laughable, if you've read this for any length. I've often wondered what would be worse: losing my hands with which I chronicle the strange travels of my mind, or the eyes that have witnessed this (and my family's) entire life. If rendered unable to walk or talk, as doctors predicted from my birth, writing would still be possible.

Even if I couldn't see, I could feel the keys. Here's an interesting tidbit for you... I often write with my eyes closed. This mind's eye sees what it is that needs to be said, transmits signals to these hands that have known a keyboard since they owned but a gentle dozen years, and words appear. To me, it's quite natural, second nature.

As a young journalist, I learned to compose on a manual typewriter. Each keystroke had to be precise. The mind and hands became one early on. Always the insufferable perfectionist, I quickly learned to feel when my fingers keyed mistakes. I would backspace without looking, "x" out the offending characters and continue without losing the muse. Hey, I'm wandering off into tangential nonsense. Let's return to wherever it was I intended this to be.

Perhaps I've been putting off the difficult... what to say. I could put down a thousand words and not say anything. Nothing worthwhile, that is. For a four-almost-five-year-old, that's about as normal as it gets. Judging from my stats of blog hits and book sales however, you're evidently tiring of the tirades and bad attitude Deke has fallen into. I get it. It pisses me off too.

A Station Agent tonight asked how the book is doing. I didn't know how to correctly answer the question. "Hasn't sold as much as I hoped," was the only reply I could muster.

"Well," he asked, "you didn't expect it to be a bestseller, did you?"

"Hmm," I replied. "I guess not. But I had hoped to sell more than 500 books by now. Guess my sights were set a bit higher."

Why did I go into this project? Deep within, I knew it likely wouldn't set the literary world ablaze. After all, I'm a simple transit operator describing what it's like to drive a bus. Perhaps I hoped it would resonate with the other working Joes and Janes who make the world's economy roll. What I've learned from this experience is that there are people who read, those who buy books just to say they did, and folks who believe there's no time to read. Some of us would rather not read about what consumes the best of us, especially after completing yet another excruciatingly-tedious shift of one of the world's most depressing jobs. Of 80,000+ drivers in this country, I had hoped to sell books to a tenth. It's more like a hundredth so far. A handful of people from Scotland, Canada and Australia have chipped in a few bucks to see what I had to say. Other than that, poof... go the dreams of a writer who likely waited too long to put himself out there.

Sure, it's a bit disheartening. It's important however, to acknowledge the great things that have happened through the experience of publishing my (first) book. For the first time in nearly four decades, I returned to a radio studio. This time, on the other side of the microphone, as a guest. Oregon Public Broadcasting, perhaps in a move to rid itself of a social media pest, agreed to interview me on its "Think Out Loud" program. It was a prestigious invitation which I'm still awed and honored by. The Northwest Labor Press called for an interview, as did The Portland Tribune. Our local Amalgamated Transit Union 757 leadership have been very supportive, and I've appreciated some uplift from our International as well.

The rest of our local media has remained silent. Willamette Week "passed" on reviewing the book, as has (evidently) the Mercury and Portland Monthly. I wouldn't even give The Boregonian a chance, given its heavy transit management slant. The others? Must be afraid to rock the transit bully's boat. If you rock it too much, some are too afraid to brave windy waves to do anything but row toward calm water. Predictable, the staleness of the local media. Unpredictably, management hasn't seemed to mind one of its operators dared to blast it in print. Maybe it's just waiting for the opportune moment to pounce. If it doesn't know my true identity at this point, well... you just can't fix ignorance. I've written about that enough in this blog though, so we'll leave it there.

My brothers and sisters have been amazingly supportive and complimentary. This means more to me than any other acclaim I could possibly achieve. They find me, sometimes hanging on to the book in wait for the moment we meet again, so I can sign their copy. More than anything, this is an absolute honor above all others. Thank you, my brothers and sisters of the road, because you are who I write for to begin with.

Oh well. My first frolic into the literary morass hasn't moved many, but I'm moved by those who have taken the ride. It's fun, when I stop to see a lifelong dream realized. I keep pulling myself up, and am often treated to encouraging words and hugs of support. Anyone else might be discouraged, but I'm feeling the opposite. Deke has more words to become bound. There's a certain story I came up with while driving over the Tillikum Crossing that is a work in progress. Maybe it's just a speed bump in front of a long hill. Even so, it's something that will last beyond my heartbeat. And that, my dear friends, makes it so very worthwhile.

Monday, March 12, 2018

An Inspiring Day


Such a lovely, sunny pre-spring day. It's the type of day I'd love to bottle up and save for a brutally cold January. Like I said in my book, this job provides me an office with six wheels and an incredible view. Today was a perfect example.

Mount Hood was brilliantly shining in our star's graceful light. People were out and about, taking advantage of this Nor'west rarity before the routine rainfall drowns the brief wonder. I drove a route out of the ordinary routine, recalling it from memory and hoping nothing had changed since we last made the roll. It was the same, and that was good.

The main reasons I took this job were not only necessity, but my fondness for people and a love of driving. Now that I have over five years behind this particular wheel, it's easier to pay attention to more than the ordinariness of the job. "Scanning" has taken a new avenue while I roll. Sure, I watch for the normal dangers and my head swivels more than a teenager's watching babes in bikinis, but I see more than I once did. Buildings that were under construction when I last drove the route have been completed, and new ones are rising. Neighborhoods remain visually as I recall, but paint jobs and people have not. Now I see architecture in the homes, the street art gracefully reaching out to passers-by, new businesses replacing old. Refurbished, majestic homes that have stood since the dawn of the 20th century attract me; those torn down and replaced with mega-modern/charmless half-size eyesores sadden me.

No matter the aesthetic changes, the feel of Old Portland remains. Is it "Weird?" Not really. It's just Portland, man. We're a city of infinite possibility and finite leadership. Someone could leave here now as a child and return in 20 years and find its feel hasn't changed much. Kinda like my old desert hometown... whenever I visit, it's as if I never left. The faces remain. A bit more lined and gray-haired, but so am I. The visions of me as a 9-year-old tooling down side streets on my Schwinn Stingray are as real as the Rexall on Main Street.

As I've grown into a Portlander, I've seen some changes come about, and feel new roots have grown within me. The old Sellwood Bridge is rebuilt anew; Tebo's fell to the car-dealership axe; the Tillikum came about in my tenure as an operator; Line 4 will soon be split in half. Changes become aesthetically-copacetic in a world surrounded by the unsettling. As long as we still have Mike's Drive In, Wonderland, Roake's, Broadway Books, Annie Bloom's and Powell's, life here remains comforting. Likewise, as long as there's a transit steering wheel in my hand, I remain a constant in our city's evolution.

Ahh, sunshine. If only for the wink of an Irish boy's eye, it's a refreshing wonder.

Long term forecast: rain showers followed by sun breaks and more rain... for the next three months or so. Today however, I enjoyed the respite. The weather doesn't change very much up here. As long as my wipers wash it away, I still have the most evolving view of this city, in my rolling office.








Friday, March 9, 2018

Don't LOVE Me, Boy

"I'll stand my ground, and I won't back down."
-- Tom Petty



LOVE.

It's not healthy to get too much of it. My mind seizes when there's an overdose. It's hurtled my way from several altitudes each day I'm a transit operator. At home, there is a blissful and comforting, complete... lack of it.

In the absence of LOVE, I can finally be at peace. When confronted with this beast of humanity's lowest behavior, my hackles rise. Blood pressure spikes, face reddens, fists and jaw clench. Somehow, I'm able to squelch my disgust of such evil and not smash my fists through something.

As I drove my route one day, a teen aged boy, whose peach fuzz permeated an oily acne jungle only overshadowed by his dragon breath, decided to test my patience of this overrated condition. Every other word in each of his sentences was punctuated with variations of "fuck." Normally, we hear it uttered in the normal conversations of the lowest common denominator of those whom we transport. It's part of the cargo, and a gentle reminder to keep language rated "G" is usually met with muttered apologies from the offenders.

It's a word I use as well. It's extremely versatile. While the dictionary considers its use "vulgar," it fails to mention that it's a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, expletive, exclamatory, punctuative, and punitive. There are other uses, but you get the drift. Unfortunately, this word has become part of the culture. Where it was once whispered, giggled over when we were kids, it is now commonplace. We hear it on TV, the web, in daily conversation. People consider it normal, when it is actually a lazy replacement for more creative vocabulary. However, overuse can make people uncomfortable. People of advanced generations can take offense and complain if a certain decor isn't followed. Young children shouldn't be exposed to its use. And most of all, it's disruptive to a calm transit atmosphere.

"Please," I requested over the public announcement system when Junior's use of it had annoyed me an ounce less than my first wife, "keep your conversations at a G-rated level, avoiding the use of profanity on the bus. Thank you."

My admonishment was general, yet obvious as to whom it was pointed. Junior took offense.

"I have the right to free speech," he whined.

"Not on my bus," I replied.

"I have bus fare," he countered. "I have a right to be on this bus, and I can say whatever I want."

"There are limits, young man," I said. "When you board the bus, you are a passenger on a public conveyance. You have entered into a contract which binds you to behave in a manner that is not disruptive or offensive. If you can't abide by these terms, you are free to walk."

"You can't tell me how to talk." Junior was full of righteous indignation. It actually made me smile, this boy who was in diapers just yesterday, trying to argue.

"If your behavior interrupts the peaceful glide of my ride, oh yeah... I most certainly can." My ornery rising, I couldn't stop there. "Besides, you confuse 'rights' with 'privileges.' Rights are inherent, not given. Riding a bus is a form of the latter, and this privilege can be revoked. I suggest you invest in a thesaurus, learn some creative alternatives to common vulgarities."

Junior wasn't up to the debate. Probably can't even spell 'Constitution' without thinking hard about it. He cleaned up his speech, but one glance in my mirror told me he was stewing somethin' fierce. His little-boy-wanting-to-be-a-man face was scrunched up like he was pooping.

At long last, his stop beckoned. I braced for his predictable onslaught on exit. Because you see, it's the coward's favorite battle tactic: get the last word in as you're headed out. I was pleased to have almost guessed his exact response.

"Have a great FUCKING day, asshole," he roared in his adolescently-cracking baby growl.

"The same to you," I chuckled. An elderly man was boarding as Junior left, and he shook his head.

"No respect, these punks," he lamented.

"Indeed," was all I could say.

Junior has a surprise waiting the next time he rides and thinks he's "won" the battle. A road supervisor is aware of his behavior, and plans a little visit to my bus. A police presence might be a nice touch for extra emphasis. I'm sure a certain act of riot will be read so that his undeveloped mind can understand. A visit to his principal is a possibility as well. His face has been recorded from several angles while he was my passenger. His 'victory' is about to crumble. And the beautiful part is that he's unaware of the possible ramifications of his behavior. I can hardly wait to see his face when understanding sets in between those juvenile lobes.

You see, that boy was giving me LOVE (Loud Obnoxious Vulgar Entitlement) the whole time. And that, folks, I can do without.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Board Ignores Pleas, Names New GM

Disgusting. Predictably ridiculous. Our "board of directors" struck again into the heart of Portland transit, naming its pre-ordained Canadian reject as the new General Manager.

Predictably, the media latched on to the board's new darling with a lame narrative of how Kelsey "left" TransLink in Vancouver. He was fired in 2015. (See 'TransLink Makes Changes...') Somehow, he made his way into TriMet management after his ouster, leaving a trail of disastrous policy in his wake. Now, he'll bring this expertise to bear... down on us.

"You can be safe," Kelsey stated at the earlier dog-and-pony show board meeting last month, "and be on time." Spoken like someone who truly hasn't a clue about the work of the people he now rules.

Amalgamated Transit Union 757 officials warned the board about appointing Kelsey. President Shirley Block asked if he supported union workers, and he squirmed through the answer saying he was 50-50 on the subject. Vice President Jon Hunt asked if Kelsey supported the findings of a state audit a few years earlier, but the new suit hadn't even read it. He also didn't believe management supported leaving sick operators stranded in the field to find their own way home. "Doesn't pass the smell test," he replied with what seems a standard bland attitude we're now up against.

When we heard of our former GM's impending golden-goose egg retirement, we collectively shrugged our shoulders. "Here comes another dipstick," one operator stated.

Once again, the board, local media and general populace of Portland allowed our transit agency to continue the status-quo. No innovation, no support of its workers, no new approach to fix a broken system. We're up to 20+ reported assaults so far this year, an alarming figure that promises to rise above triple digits by year's end. Our transit mall continues to deteriorate, Uber and Lyft drivers clog our transit lanes and bus stops, and Kelsey wants to "partner" with these nuisances.

Yeah, we're screwed. Our union officers need your support. We have elections this year, and I hope the focus is more on the issues rather than personal attacks. For once, we need to have a drastic uptick in voting participation, as well as general support in union activities. Whoever is elected has an even steeper hill to climb the next few years. The union-busting management will hit us even harder with more outrageous contract demands, and will take advantage of our internal discord and lack of unity. Divide and conquer has worked wonders for the ruling elite in a centuries-long domination of the masses.

Nobody cares about us, except US. Unless we pull together, we'll eventually be replaced with robots. Not kidding one iota here.