Deacon Who?

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(Note: Ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily shared by the transit agency I work for. This is simply an expression of free speech while describing the work bus operators perform.) I have been (and called) many things in this life. Most of all, I'm a writer who happens to drive a bus. In May of '13 I thought it would be fun to write about my job. As a direct result of this blog, I published a book in November of 2017 called "JUST DRIVE - Life in the Bus Lane" that is available on Amazon. I write to provide insight as to what it's like on a bus... From The Driver Side. Thank you for reading!

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.

The Sun Sets

Patrick's Note: It has been nearly a week since Deke N. Blue passed from his bloggery life. It has taken that long to come to terms with...