Monday, October 17, 2016

You Complain, I Listen

I just posted my latest blog entry, and in the span of two hours, there have been 50 hits. If FaceBook had not cancelled my online persona, there would be closer to 200. No, it's not ego. It's the truth.

Where have you gone, oh thousands of readers? I mourn your loss. By now, I should be closing in on 90,000 hits. Instead, I'm just a few hundred shy of 80k.

In life, you win and you lose. I've lived long enough to learn this. For over a year and a half, I was overjoyed at seeing 5-6,000 hits a month on my blog. It's been a lifelong dream to reach a wide readership. Perhaps my writing doesn't warrant such a bonus, but I'm an artist. Maybe not the best, not worthy of wide acclaim. But I am, nevertheless, better than some. Not as good as others, but still. Is it unseemly for me to say this? Too damn bad.

I've spent three point five years pouring out my heart and soul to the transit world, and I'm sensing the end of a run. My book is nearly ready for publication. Will you, will others, buy it? Will I make enough to pay for the investment of self-publication, or am I simply a dreamer? Writers are judged by not only how many people read their creations, but also by our critics. Have I reached the pinnacle, gone as far as my meager talents will allow? Is there hope for me not only as a bus operator continuing in the profession, but as a writer?

At the end of my bus line the other night, I found a customer complaint awaiting me at the garage. This person berated me for not being sensitive to a local protest downtown recently. Yeah, I was pissed. These folks, while exercising their rights as Americans, held up my bus and many others. They were protesting the injustice stemming from the outrages of law enforcement against our fellow Americans' of "color." I heartily agree, as a Caucasian, that my race has sinned against our brothers and sisters of different shades. For millennia. I am certainly guilty of enjoying "white privilege." Whatever this person heard was construed as possibly racist, even though I count myself as one who believes skin color has no merit in determining another's value. Our nation's founders dreamed of a future in which all are equal. I've read extensively about man's inhumanity to itself, and it has only spurred me to be that which my fellows haven't been. Humane toward others. Compassionate. Loving. Did I allow my frustration of being a late bus operator betray my supposed true self?

Perhaps I don't have the right temperament to be a bus operator. Maybe this customer was right to call in a complaint. I don't always think before I speak. For that, and for insulting anybody's right to protest, I sincerely apologize. My beliefs are such that if you want to change minds, you find ways that inconvenience, to challenge, those whose minds you aim to change. Maybe my mind still needs to evolve in a manner I'm not quite sure of at this time. But I sure try, and I realize the human condition is forever in need of perfecting. Had the complainant engaged me, asked what I meant by my grumblings, perhaps we could have had an in-depth discussion. By doing so, I'm sure this person would have left my bus with a much greater understanding of who I am and what I stand for. Instead, they assumed. They took the very stance the protesters railed against. They stereotyped me. Because of my skin color? I hope not, because that would be a hypocritical position: exactly what the protesters are against.

Like I've said, the wall we all come up against is upon me. I cannot see over it at this time. Going to work is no longer something I look forward to. Instead, it's a chore. There's a great chance I will soon leave it to those who are better at it than I. For now, I'm just biding my time and working very hard to keep everyone safe. Maybe I deserved the complaint, but I've also earned the respect of those whom I deliver safely to their destinations every day. While the satisfied thousands don't bother to call in a compliment, I'm satisfied in knowing I've served them to the best of my ability.

As always, thanks for reading. Peace be with you, and safe travels to you all.


  1. Every day, we entertain angels unawares. I have always had deep respect for professional drivers, but because of your blog, I cannot see a Trimet bus without feeling an even deeper empathy. The wear and tear on the body, the exhausting shifts, the heroic multitasking--all of it, everything you describe in meticulous detail, comes to mind when I see a big blue-and-white trundling down Powell, 82nd, or through the Pearl.

    Angels unaware. You keep us safe. Your brothers and sisters need more support, more compassion from both management and the general public. And you are right: this corporate/consumer-is-always right model encourages Star Chambers and one-man Kangaroo Courts. (“You have been found guilty. Now defend yourself.” [à la Kafka’s The Trial]).

    Angels unaware, truly. Deacon, those who know you, value your professionalism and deeply ethical nature. If this aggrieved individual, the one who made the complaint, had engaged you in dialogue, then I’m sure he or she would know you as we do.

    Take care, driver. May the Lord of Roads keep you all safe.

  2. Thank you for your wonderful comments. It has been a very tough few months. Not just for me, but also for those with whom I share the road. To read your words gave me hope. Knowing you find some value in my humble ramblings is a testament to my belief in a noble spirit lurking in the whispering pines of our fair city. Your support, sir or madam, is deeply appreciated by us all.

    Now, if I may be so bold to ask, please spread the word about our plight. Engage your neighbors, friends and strangers about the perils we face simply by doing our jobs. It's a small favor to ask, but I believe my request is echoed by a thousand voices.

    Peace be with you.