Sunday, September 4, 2016

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find Out What It Means to Me

"I'm only riding a few blocks, is it okay if I only put a dollar in?" The lady asked me this with a sneer in her voice, daring me to challenge her.

"Sure," I replied, "if you want to risk a citation for 'theft of a public service.' "

"Well then, can I have a transfer?"

"No, a transfer costs $2.50."

She gave me one of those 'are you kidding' looks. "If I'm only going two stops, then it's only worth a dollar."

If you go into a sandwich shop, order a full-size sub with everything on it, then tell the cashier you only plan on eating half of it so you're only paying a third of the price, they will laugh you out of the store. Likewise, if you go into a grocery and choose 20 items but tell the clerk you really only need 10 of them, you still have to pay for every item. Why do people consider transit fares different from any other purchase?

I'll tell you why. Because we don't command the public's respect. They think we're a joke. Criminals assault us, and our agency blithely offers a thousand bucks for someone to rat out the suspect. Later, a judge accepts the plea bargain while slapping the offender on the wrist. Gently, as to not injure the poor baby's sweet blood vessels. Hey, it's only a bus operator, after all. The media insults us, telling its audience how a monkey could do our job.

Our own transit agency, which should be our biggest defender, instead offends us with regularity. It hires union-busting henchmen while whittling away at retiree and operator benefits and hiring as many people it can under a contract that screws them. It seems they're out to replace us once they have successfully murdered a benefit package that was once commensurate with the job we do. It sees how many of us are being assaulted, and instead of lobbying the legislature for stiffer penalties for those who commit the crime, they find another way to waste money by caging us into an already-cramped operator seat. This not only separates us from the decent passengers we ferry to and from work, but it also says "We give up; you're going to assault our operators anyway, so there's nothing we care to do about it except cage them in." Well guess what? We have to get out of the driver seat eventually. Even monkeys have to pee.

Any other agency, when busted for not funding a pension for 30 years, as it promised and was legally obligated to do, would have been hung to dry. Yet ours is lauded for doing so, and encouraged to keep finding ways to pare down those "greedy" union benefits packages. All this while management is pampered with golden parachutes awaiting their cushy retirement. I'd have to work until I'm 90 to bring home what some upper managers can expect, yet I'm the greedy one. Hmm...

It's insulting to know that if I fight off an attacker with what I consider "reasonable defense", I could be fired by my agency over any interpretive discrepancy of this purposefully-vague term. It enrages us that we can face stiffer penalties for defending ourselves than those who commit the assault. It's also maddening that fare inspectors were eliminated and operators became punching bags because the public realized fewer would be checking to ensure they're obeying the law.

No, I don't want an unreasonably-high salary, even though we deserve it. Of course I realize there are limits to how lucrative our benefits can be. But I should be able to expect our lot to get better, for our management to have found a way to reward us for weathering the economic storm and performing feats many of them have never attempted. Instead, we're told we ask too much and that it's time to be "more realistic in our expectations."

Well I know something we should realistically expect and deserve. It's called R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and as Aretha Franklin put it, they should find out what it means to me. I won't hold my breath or think about it too long, because it's infuriating. I have a job to do. One which our local economy depends upon my doing without distraction. It takes skill to whistle a tune while I drive. And I've never seen a monkey do it.


  1. Excellent....Americans have lost respect for so many things. It is a sorry state of affairs. Rudeness seems to be a way of life, along with always trying to find a way to cheat the system. What is so hard about being courteous? If you don't have the money, I guess you need to walk, or but a skates! the Bus Drivers have a job to do and it is not up to them to break the rules!

  2. Well said. Management should read this.

    1. They will


      Not that it will change anything

  3. My first instinct is to spit fire at our management in this forum as you have, but in a much more "colorful" way. I'd put up A THOUSAND BUCKS if my own, hard earned money if Mc FARTlane would drive ONE complete shift on a Line 4, 20 or 72. He'd never do it so I don't have to worry about losing my money. $17,500 A MONTH! That's how much he gets if he retired TOMORROW! WTF is wrong with that? If I get assaulted I pretty much just have to let it happen? They're trying to come up with ways to teach us how to "defuse" the situation? How about out the word out that the agency REALLY MEANS it that if you assault ANY TriMet employee, we WILL PROSECUTE you to the FULLEST extent of the law and then give your people some teeth. Stop this pansy-ass coddling of the violators. Don't consider lowering the fine for fare violators; have cops more readily available to back fare enforcement personnel so violators can't run. Show the district that we don't play games. Believe it or not, that's EXACTLY what the OVERWHELMING majority of our riders want! They want the B.S. to stop as much as we do! You NEVER hear CTran have these issues...because they don't play these games!! C'mon Neil! C'mon Harry! Your people should not be afraid that breathing in the wrong direction will get them fired! It's just the right way to treat your people. What's happening now is your getting your people who could have been considered "fiercely loyal" to the company; still union, but would bend over backwards to do whatever the company needed them to do on a moment's notice a,d be happy to do it, to people who do the bare minimum to skate by. People who are afraid to act or say a word because the chair will be pulled out from under them. People who now could care less about the company and its well being because they think the company could care less about them. They're here for a paycheck. Nothing more. You used to be able to be PROUD to work here. I KNOW I SURE IN THE HELL WAS. NO MORE. Oh, I still love my job. But the conditions I work under; the threat of vioence...the rampant lack of support and void of communication...and it SUPRISES YOU that NO ONE wants to re ruit people to work here anymore?

    The new guys don't see it...yet. Give them time. I refused to see it for longer than I should. I WAS one of those company people. I'd like to think I'm still salvageable. But this window dressing crap has to end NOW. You HAVE TO listen to those IN THE TRENCHES now. Stop trying to teach us more "how to talk nice to Eddie when he doesn't have fare" classes when it's Eddie's fault and make eddy be responsible for himself. Put out the PSA's you promised about holding the doors on MAX makes you late to work; assaulting a GriMey employee is a crime and YOU WILL be prosecuted; bump the reward up to 71st least $5000...come up with ONE FINAL DEFINITION of self defense that YOU, THE PPB AND LEGAL can all agree on and one YOUR EMPLOYEES can use that lets us reasonably defend ourselves, and be able to get help there FAST.

    (I enter this anonymously because I DON'T trust I won't get called in the carpet for speaking the truth. Sucks it's this way..)

    1. BRAVO! So eloquently put. These people are so afraid of offending the public, they have offended the public AND the very people who drive that public to work. And the $16k monthly? It could go to much better use, such as saving the retirees they're tossing under the bus.

  4. Oh ya and don't forget to click on one of the advertisers links. Help the Deacon make some scratch

  5. Requiring electronic fares and taking the process out of the operator's hands would solve many problems. It would just be a matter of fully accepting chip-enabled bank cards and phones (which TriMet's coming system is capable of) and getting as many businesses as possible to be willing to take payment and add it to a rider's account on behalf of TriMet.

    Also, people have said things used to be different and society demanded people give respect.