Monday, December 14, 2015

My Christmas List

This time of year can be particularly stressful for some. Many of us see it as a time of reflection, a season to show our loved ones how much they truly affect our lives. Already, I've had the greatest Christmas present a blogger could ask for. Since this time a year ago, FTDS's hit counter has almost doubled itself! Of course, it helps the numbers to piss off a certain segment of the public, but oh well. The news is, this blog has reached over 21,000 hits in 2015 alone, with readers all over the world. I'm flabbergasted at all this attention, but it feels good... a great boost to my confidence.


People from Russia, Australia, Canada, Japan, Belarus, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ukraine, Ireland(!), and Poland have read my words. I am truly humbled. It seems bus operators the world over experience a lot of the same feelings as we do here in Portland. Even though we're scattered across this gorgeous blue marble, we're also united by the one thing we do for a living. I realize not all the readers are operators, but I hope by reading this blog, you understand us just a little bit more.

Bus operators, I'm sure you can tell after reading a few of my posts, can be a particularly persnickety and ornery bunch. I poke, prod and outright smack people with these words. If you've taken offense, I apologize. It is advised that you take my tomes with a grain of salt. Usually these posts are written after long hours in the seat, and that's an extremely stressful place. Someone once suggested I seek "therapy" because they thought I was downright aggressive. Well, phooey. THIS is my therapy. I get out my frustration, anger and over-zealous self-righteous indignation in this blog. It's an exercise in breathing, literary profanity. Once I've finished a post, I feel much better. If you don't appreciate being the subject of my sharp-edged barbs, might I suggest a tougher coat of armor? My personal shields grow stronger with every mile behind the wheel. I'm flipped off, honked at, and cursed in many languages every day. Just for doing my job. So yeah, I get to be mean in here because to do so "out there" isn't keeping you safe. Blowing off steam is good for the cardiovascular system, and if I let the occasional literary fart here and there just hold your nose; this too shall pass.

So what do I truly "want" for Christmas this year? I've already had to change the heating system in my house. Santa told me in passing one day he had to order a rail car to deliver all the coal to my house. (Talk about grumpy old men!) So that leaves me at your mercy, dear readers. Hope you can help me out. Here's a list of 10 things I would love for Christmas, and the entire year.

Pay it forward. When someone (like a friendly bus operator) does you a "solid", do somebody else a favor down the line. I believe in the domino effect. It's amazing how easily you can do the only positive thing all day long for somebody, and the result is often one of the biggest smiles and greatest appreciation you'll ever see. Even if your efforts aren't immediately appreciated, kindness goes a long way to heal broken souls.

If a bus operator growls, barks or outright yells at you, stop and think a moment. There's usually a hidden lesson here. That operator's demeanor is likely the result of something you did that any normal human would categorize as downright stupid and dangerous to your well-being and to your fellow passengers. Whatever you do, don't argue. If you'd like an explanation, first apologize for whatever you did, then ask nicely what you did to deserve such a tongue-lashing. Remember, your infraction has already passed through the operator's busy task list. Chances are it's forgiven. We can't hold on to things very long because our emotional trash can has to be regularly emptied so we can concentrate on giving you a smooth ride. Be humble, and be honest with yourself; your safety is truly our number one concern.

Call our Customer Service Department (503-258-RIDE) when you see an operator do something nice. Or when we save someone's life. Out of each 100 calls, 99.5 of them are complaints. Surely we deserve more than half a compliment out of 100. People dearly love to bitch us out, yet ignore the positive things.

Put your phone away for a trip, and watch what we do.
Put the earbuds away. Watch how other motorists treat us. Chances are you'll see something that evokes wonder, shock or even awe. Imagine how you'd feel sitting at the helm of a 20-ton, 40-foot-long, nine-foot-wide and 11-foot-tall mega beast. See how many things your driver did just to make a simple turn? Did you see that pedestrian dart out from between parked cars? The resulting sudden stop which would normally entice a scowl from you glancing up from your phone to see what happened only to have missed it, will look (and feel) entirely different if you watch in real-time.

Read the signs on the bus, and do what they say. They are there for a very good reason. Most are to ensure an efficient, smooth and safe ride.

Be kind to your fellow passengers. Treat them as you would a revered grandparent, even if they're rude to you. Fights on the bus involve police. Police involvement requires lawyers. Lawyers ain't cheap. Physical aggression can be painful, no matter how badass you think you are. Hospitals ain't cheap either.

Remember that just because someone appears "different", doesn't mean they are any less a human being than you are. We're too divisive and judgmental a society these days. Practice kindness, and it is often returned to you a hundred fold. Whenever I've pre-judged someone by their looks alone, I've often felt like a fool.

Smile. It's good for you. It takes more muscles to frown that it does to smile, and the health benefits are abundant. I try to smile at everyone who boards my bus. The basic human response to a smile is to return it with one of our own. I love it when I see a bright smile!

Even though you're having a rough day, week, year or life, remember there's always somebody else who has it worse than you. Had a bad day at the office? That guy in the seat across from you who smells bad hasn't had a bath in a long time. Why? Because he's homeless, and that's not necessarily his "fault". That lady who just hobbled on to the bus and took extra time to sit down may have recently had surgery, making every step painful beyond your own scope of understanding.

Just... be... careful. Please. This is my most important wish. There are people at home who love you. They count on your coming home safely, every day. What would happen to your loved ones if you actually got hit by that train or bus because you wanted to shave a few extra seconds off your commute and did something foolish? They would be devastated, and so would the vehicle's operator, the investigating supervisor, the transit dispatcher, transit and city cops, the station agents and all the fellow operators as well as those on the vehicle. We're all a team, and we want you to get "there" safely. It's simple, folks. Safety is keeping aware of your surroundings and following rules even if they seem ridiculous. Remember, those few extra seconds you shave are nothing compared to a great deal of pain or the loss of your life.

There you have it. It's actually an easy list, and won't cost you a thing. I'm a cheap date, or so Mrs. Blue says. It will be a fun Christmas this year, especially when I turn the Grinch movie off just as he's finished stealing all the goodies. This is where I tell my kids the story ends. They know the game now, though. I'm kinda like that ol' Grinch. Even though I growl and scowl in here, my heart is actually full of love and kindness.

Merry Christmas, Happy Ramadan, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever holiday you celebrate. May all the peace and joy of life fill your days and nights as long as we are blessed to have you here with us on Earth. Peace be with you and yours.

With love and deep appreciation, I am


  1. Merry Christmas, Deacon! I hope you get all you've asked for.

  2. Absolutely agree with your Christmas list...although I have been retired from the "Bus Game" nearly 12 years now, This list is all encompassing, for drivers, and non drivers alike. Great for mankind in general....Thanks Deacon, and Merry Christmas Happy Ramadan,Kwanzaa or Hanukkah. ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAY, AND BE KIND TO YOUR FELLOW MAN/WOMAN OR CHILD!!!!♡♡♡♡♡♡

    1. Thanks Gloria! My love and best Christmas wishes to all brothers and sisters in Denver!

  3. Great list. Lets all do our part in fulfilling it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

  4. Well, you made me cry a little. Have a very Merry Christmas!

  5. Love your list, hope that many help to fulfill it!!! You are an inspiration, thank you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!!!! See you on the road!!

    1. Thanks dear lady. Merry Christmas to you and all the Taylors!

  6. Replies
    1. You're just too durn cute lol. Merry Christmas to you, Brent and the lil' critters!

  7. I am so glad I know you - you special, special man. Merry Christmas, Deacon in Blue.

    1. Wow, thank you Irene. It is an honor for me you said this. But you readers are the most "special" to me, because you're kind and supportive. As for me, I keep looking for little old ladies to splash while I'm driving the bus in a rainstorm. ;) Merry Christmas dear lady!

  8. Good list Deacon, and may I add one that we might receive from our political masters?

    I hope that they can find it in their hearts to realize that, (contrary to the popular opinion that we are unemployable in any other capacity, and "are lucky to have a job,") they are lucky to have us as employees. We make or break transit in any city.

    So after working on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Eve, or New Years Day, or any combination of them all, we should sit down, pour a shot of a favourite mood enhancer and remember an old Scottish toast.

    Here's tae us!
    Wha's like us?
    Damn few,
    And they're a' deid!

    Merry Christmas, Happy New Year