Friday, May 5, 2017

Ride Naked? My Ass!

OK, so now management thinks it can toy with our short hairs, does it? Adding to the latest insults, it has slapped another sweaty mess into our increasingly-toxic gas chambers.

This message came down to all buses this week: "4:28p *FYI to ALL.. with the warmer weather just know that (agency name here) DOES NOT have a policy that passengers need to wear shirts or ANY clothing for that matter. Any questions see your Station Manager."

This removes the operator's ability to exhibit professional judgement. I'm surely not alone in my disgust when a female passenger reaches into her bra to pull out a wad of sweaty, crumpled bills and shoves them at me, as if I'm supposed to insert them into the fare box. Now imagine unbridled boobs possibly swaying into my No-Go Zone. I don't need to see bare chests on anyone while driving.

Even though Oregon has a fairly-relaxed attitude toward nudity, each municipality's code can override state law. Portland's City Code (Code 14A.40.030) states: "It is unlawful for any person to expose his or her genitalia while in a public place or visible in a public place, if the public place is open or available to persons of the opposite sex." 

We're told from training onward that when we're logged into a bus, we are considered Captain of the Ship. Guided by rules of the road and standard operating procedures, we're allowed certain latitude in decisions which affect all those within the confines of our vehicle. Operators are trained in skills of operation, and in dealing with a large cross-section of the public. It takes experience to accommodate this diversity, and a particular ability to empathize with this grand swath of humanity. We must often put aside personal beliefs in order to serve the common good -- a balance that must be kept to allow personal freedom while protecting others from behavior that could provoke or endanger them.

"Many times we find ourselves at odds with the confusing edicts of managers who, with little or no practical experience in transit, simply cannot fully understand the context in which we operate," said one of my brother operators. "Because they have never been city bus operators, how can they possibly be our respected or effective leaders?"

This "riding naked is okay" policy is ill-advised. It sends the message that it's one's "right" to offend the sensibilities of the majority. We are not an Adults-Only nightclub. Our buses and trains are horribly unsanitary  --  to the point of life-threatening toxicity -- due to the lack of routine cleanliness. This policy forces an already-vulnerable public to be further exposed to potentially virulent biohazards. There must be a line drawn which separates acceptable transit behavior from the unsanitary.

Art which is considered inappropriate by some is beautiful to others. This is a freedom most understand and accept. But people have the opportunity to avoid exposure to art or opinion with which they do not choose to experience. Conducting one's business while nude in public is a visual assault upon an audience not given a choice in the matter.

Children ride our buses, and they should not be subject to nightmare-inducing visions of Harry Hubert's ample arse. A bus or train should not be considered the same as a locker room. People already suffering from life-threatening diseases ride to and from health treatment centers, and the slightest exposure to harmful germs can be a death sentence. Elderly people, whose immune systems are already weakened, could be infected by the additional filth now thrust upon them.

How would our passengers feel if they boarded my bus to find me wearing nothing but boots? Of course, this would be in violation of our uniform policy. Complaints about my "behavior" would skyrocket.

What does Safeway do if a customer walks in with sweaty genitals dripping on the floor, on the fruits, vegetables and meats? I think their bread is made with a much more healthy brand of yeast, and don't need Polly Natural's added variety. No, these customers understand the concept of "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service."

"Because children come into our store, and for other health concerns, we require that people have to be appropriately dressed," a Safeway employee responded to my inquiry. Thank you, and I will continue to shop there, as always, completely and appropriately dressed.

Of course, as summer nears people are apt to wear more revealing fashions in an effort to keep cool. Swimsuits? Sure, as long as everyone (especially juveniles) covers up the nipples. It's discriminatory to insist women cover up while not also expecting men to do so.

How would you feel, standing in line at the bank or library, if another person walked up and stood next to you and your children... nude? Hey, we're all "sexual beings," right? Not necessarily. It can be terrifying for children to view exposed adult genitals. It can be equally distressing for the operator of a public transit vehicle to be forced to allow nude exhibitionists to ride. One person's "rights" should not infringe upon basic societal norms. Unless you ride or work in transit, apparently.

I'm no prude. With a healthy libido, I am long-married and happily monogamous. Of course, I enjoy the sight of an attractive human body. If I enjoyed staring at nude people, there are appropriate venues for this. How many people outside of the adult dancing or nudist colony industries are expected to endure a hostile work environment because their employer refuses to enforce basic human decency? Sure, not all my fellow operators will agree with my stance, but I'll wager the majority consider nude passengers a further erosion of common decency in our workplace.

In Portland, it's evidently legal for people to conduct themselves in the nude, in public. We have the upcoming "Naked Bike Ride" in June. Mildly amusing for many, not so for others. It's an example Portland's vexing habit of coddling a minority while offending the majority.

Clothed passengers, the overwhelming majority in transit, could be offended by transit nudity. They might blame the operator for allowing it, and possibly cause a disruption in service. What if we pick up a naked rider in one town where clothing-optional is legal, and drop them off in a nearby city where it is not? Doesn't that make us an accessory in a public indecency charge? How are we to know whether a nude rider isn't a child sex offender hoping to claim more victims? Of course, this isn't to say that exhibitionism is a sign of mental illness. It is in my opinion however, extremely narcissistic and selfish.

In the past few months, the transit agency has told us that people cannot be denied service for lack of fare, that we must continue to provide excellent customer service while also strictly maintaining schedules, and that we will be suspended for defending ourselves when attacked. Now people can ride butt-naked too? What's next? Lap-grinding strippers giving pole dances? Open urinals on buses and trains? Mattresses made available for open sexual encounters?

I'm weary of this rampant series of insults upon those who perform one of this city's most vital jobs. I'm figuratively thrusting my arm upward in self-defense, even though operators are suspended for this move. It's the only decent thing to do.

Cover up Portland, if you want a ride. Nobody should have to see your birthday suit.


  1. Who can someone call to complain about this? The last thing I want is someone naked sitting next to me. Where does this stop? How is it legal to expose children to something so gross?
    Thank you for bringing this to our attention, you must work for one crappy agency in one hell of a crappy town ! The rights of few out weight the rights of others? BTW, love your writing style !

  2. Lol! Me thinks you are getting sick of putting up with the hypocrisy and the bullshit!
    It never ends dude!

  3. UNBELIEVABLE! Management has no right to allow this on drivers OR the public.

  4. I saw that message on my CAD yesterday! Lolololol!

  5. Wow.
    Thumbs up Deke.