Monday, September 28, 2015

New Olympic Events

Next weekend, our transit agency is holding its annual "Bus Roadeo". I don't participate in this because I think it's just another media event for management, but I don't begrudge my fellow operators for participating. From all I've heard, participants enjoy this event. If the union were the sponsor and not our agency, I might feel differently and participate.

Bus operators get a raw deal from a public that has at many times stated "a monkey could do that job". Bullshit. A monkey couldn't even wash floors correctly. Why? Because they lack the human sense of "work". So it's terribly insulting to compare a bus operator to a monkey, and having a "roadeo" to me is like putting elephants to work in a circus.

What we should create is a new Olympic category: Bus Operation. Athletes train for years to attain the level of proficiency to put them at the top of their game. So do bus operators. We drive anywhere from six to 14 hours a day, five days a week. As we operate a bus, certain skills become honed, because we practice constantly. Knowing a pedestrian will enter a crosswalk against a signal, creating space to allow the stop sign-running motorist to turn right onto the street directly in front of us,  knowing a bicyclist will unlawfully pass in spite of a blinking yield light; all these incidents, and many more, qualify us as professional drivers. No "roadeo" is needed to prove this indisputable fact.

I've read articles about buses that drive themselves. What a load of baloney. Sure the technology may be coming, but it takes human judgment to save lives. Also, if you create robotic solutions to relieve labor disputes, pretty soon there will be no humans working at all... only machines. When that happens, how will anyone be able to buy the goods and services which business markets? The idea of machines doing the jobs of experienced professional humans is something we should all be concerned about.

So I'm in favor of adding a few events to the summer and winter Olympics. Here's a sample of how the play-by-play might go for Passenger Pickup. I can just hear Bob Costas now:

"Okay here comes Deacon Blue in his customized 2001 New Flyer, approaching the multi-line stop at top speed, hundredths of a second behind our leader. There's nobody at the stop but an old lady with a walker, and she's looking at her cell phone! No wait, she just looked up, and is now back to looking at her phone again. No telling if she wants his bus, but The Deacon let off the accelerator at just the right moment, saw her body language and hit the pedal again. Wait, here it comes... WOW DID YOU SEE THAT? The Deacon hit that mud puddle at 35mph and just obliterated that old lady in mud just as she raised both middle fingers at him! Well done! Now he's rounding the corner as his lane is about to end, and here comes a Prius, hell-bent for blowing past him. Deacon floors it and leans into the turn to force the Prius into a position behind the bus! Wow, this guy is incredible! Okay, a bicyclist has blown a stop sign and moved into the transit lane instead of the bike lane. What's he going to do? Oh no, he STOPS COLD! Deacon stops with three feet to spare! WOW! Listen to that crowd! One more turn to go with the finish line ahead, he floors it, looks right and left as he clears the final intersection and crosses the finish line in record time. AND... the judges are conferring... YES IT'S OFFICIAL, HE JUST TOOK THE LEAD FOR FIRST PLACE!"

We could also see these events: Difficult Detours, Best Stopping Distance, Boarding Drunks, Wheelchair Securement, Snow/Ice Slalom with Chained and un-Chained Divisions, SIP (Self-Important Passengers) Handling, and Parallel Parking. Yes folks, I've actually seen a bus operator (with many years of experience) back his bus perfectly, in one shot, in between two buses at a layover! It was some of the prettiest driving I've ever seen.

Hey, I can dream, can't I? Shut up, bean counters. Even monkeys don't want your job. I get to drive a bus every day!


  1. We used to be included in regional and national competitions, and that's when this roadeo thing actually meant something important. We were proud to work with several past national champions in our midst. But now, it's just another dog-n-pony show. Like you, I was against it for many reasons. But I did it the last year it counted for regional competition and came in 6th overall. I'm fine with that.

  2. Reminds me if the old Bob Newhart routine

  3. Your comments are WAY off base from the reality of this Roadeo for the second year. This one is about two guys that love to drive and compete that talked "management" into helping to some degree. These two people proposed a fun competition that would cost far less than the usual APTA approved roadeo. Something fun and grass roots. Y'all's paranoia about "management" keeps you from just enjoying what drivers do and having fun doing it. So being "against it" just reveals how little you know about how this event got re-started. I hope not to see your negative selves there so we can have some fun.

    1. I never begrudged your enjoying this event, and I'm glad you and our other brothers and sisters have a great time as well! But to label me as 'paranoid' is going a bit too far, in light of management's largely negative view of us when contract talks come along. Driving a bus is fun in itself, but I feel no need to "compete" with others. Once again, I don't have anything against y'all having fun doing this. My idea of 'fun' is entirely different. Good luck!

    2. But this has nothing to do with contract negotiations so my comment still stands. It is about mistrust and paranoia.....thanks, we will have fun.

  4. I view myself as a professional bus driver. Professional means that I do it for the money. No money, no driving.