Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Smoker

Donuts anyone? I'll pass.
It was bound to happen sooner or later. I smell all kinds of stank on folks as they board the bus, but thanks to fans and windows, the odor usually dissipates fairly quickly. People often exhale that critical final puff as they board, much to my chagrin. But this...

Tooling along one evening, I detected an odoriferous emanation of a sort usually reserved for poker games. Glancing into the passenger mirror I tried to discern the source, but one to two seconds is all you get unless I want to risk missing a vital street scan. Couldn't tell. Then I heard one of my fellow operators, who was headed home after his shift, call out a fellow passenger.

"Please put that thing out," he growled loudly. "I don't want to smell that the rest of the trip."

I'm a bit slow, I know. But it finally hit me. CIGAR SMOKE!

Over the bus loudspeaker, I say: "Is somebody SMOKING on my bus?"

Another glance into the mirror revealed three fingers pointing out the offending desperado. Returning my gaze to the road, I spy the next stop and pull over.

"Sir," I said authoritatively, "here's your stop."

"But I don't want to get out here!" he whined. "I put it out, won't do it again, promise."

"That may be true," I replied in my pseudo Southern drawl, "but it's agin the law to smoke on a bus, and I'm refusing you service. You can get out now, or get off in handcuffs later. Your choice."

He hesitated a few seconds, head bowed in either shame, anger or both. I waited patiently; my time clock showed me running early. Then he slowly rose, shaking his head, and bolted out the back door.

The smoke and stench lingered, and my remaining passengers obliged me by opening some windows to clear the air. I think they were blasted awake by the sound of my normally-kind and friendly voice taking a sharply-toned detour. You see, I'm kind and polite to all who board my ride. It puts people at ease; even the hardest-looking cases usually return my smile and thank me for the smooth operation of my bus. But several regulars have seen what might be described as a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde transformation when somebody pisses me off. I've worked hard on modulating my temper this year, but serious circumstances require a firm hand.

The trees are starting to bloom as temps rise!
Now I struggle with a forthcoming dilemma. When Stogie Man, who's a regular himself, boards my bus next time am I going to warn him not to repeat his crime? Or should I let my previous action speak for itself? If I see him standing alone at a stop, I'm tempted to pass him by. But this seems like an unnecessary power trip. Sure, he smoked on my bus. His fellow passengers later told me it seemed he'd forgotten he was still aboard! Wasted, perhaps? While it's a bit more serious than farting in an elevator, it's hardly a capital crime.

I've been the victim of a bus passing me by, even in uniform. However, given Mother Nature's propensity this winter for dispensing large volumes of water from above, I take pity on my fellow soggy Portlanders. Yeah, I'll give him another chance. But just ONE.


  1. Here is the deal: You have made it crystal clear this kind of behavior is not going to be tolerated on your bus... If it occurs again, say Nothing, pull over, set your flashers, call dispatch, request police OR Street supervision... Say NOTHING to the smoker... Once he realizes you're parked, he'll depart your bus like a scalded cat, and he will never ride with you again.... He's made his choices, be at peace with your own.. We are bus drivers, not doormats.........

  2. first and foremost its against DOT regulation and also against Trimet policy to have any open flamor any smoking material that includes Vaps. it results in a fine, exclustion and arrest of the person.

  3. Our buses had a "fire alarm test button". If some fool was smoking I would push that button and pull over. Then announce there seems to be smoke/fire in some part of bus. EVERY SINGLE TIME other pass. would POINT to smoker. "I would advise they must wait for next bus or wait for Sheriff !