Sunday, June 11, 2017

Switching Lanes and Obscenities

Self portrait.

It gets a bit boring for me to do the same route every signup, so I tend to switch back and forth. Driving the same route all the time tends to make the job dull and predictable. It also allows for complacency, a trait that has only brought me sorrow.

This week I bounced into a route I haven't driven for a while. It's a bit more challenging, with more rush hour traffic, different people and a change of scenery. Some of the passengers remembered me and were surprised when I opened the door at their stops. It's nice to be remembered and to catch up with them. Some of my former regulars have altered schedules from when I last saw them.

Driving a different route is also a good way to address bad habits one develops over time. Various body parts have been giving me trouble lately. Sore shoulders can point to poor posture and hand placement on the wheel. I've switched to using my weak hand, which is weird but places less pressure on the side which is sore. You don't realize bad habits until something starts to hurt. Regular massages help, and that's become more of a necessity than a luxury for me. Operator seats are not as comfortable as they appear. You'd think a machine that costs half a million smackers would include a seat engineered with the operator's comfort and health in mind, but they don't. Of course, there are all shapes and sizes of us, and what works for one person can be a nightmare for the next. The newer buses accommodate a larger person easier than the older models. Driving a newer bus, even though it might be a tad comfier for a big guy, presents driving challenges with the expanded front end. I still don't know why they added a few more feet to the front end. It presents vision barriers which have been proven to be deadly. They also make turns a bit more difficult.

Many of us rarely get the same bus every day. It takes a while to remember (by feel) where certain controls are located. Once you feel comfortable, it's usually toward the end of a shift. Then you get another model the next day. So not only are you struggling with seat controls to find the "sweet spot," but your left hand is roaming around the side panel like a teenager's clumsy first attempts at petting. Sometimes you find the right button, others involve a painful rebuke.

The first day was pretty easy. Traffic was light and I was able to make some valuable observations. I studied the paddle (schedule) and found the "bubbles" where it's possible to make time and where it might be necessary to burn some extra minutes. These things were stored deep in memory and all came flooding back as I drove. Since management has its tighty-whities in a bunch over schedule, I've been paying closer attention to time points and such. (The schedule-bangers still piss me off, but it's not a battle I'm gonna win, so I just do my best and keep driving safely and smoothly.) It seems I'm doing something right, because my OTP (on-time performance) numbers are at 90%. That's pretty damn good, and if they think they can do better, it would be fun to watch them try.

Some passengers actually said they missed me. That's nice to hear. I work very hard at providing them a smooth ride. Evidently, some of their recent operators have been of the bump-and-grind variety. Passengers have also noticed I don't tolerate much more than passing obscenities. When language becomes too predictably vile, I tend to creatively steer them toward more polite discourse. This seems to have resonated with many of the regulars, because younger people have a limited vocabulary. One guy found this out the hard way. He cursed me and was immediately invited to revisit the sidewalk. "Fuck" me, you say? Nah. I'm exit-only. Tell it to the mirror and find the nearest exit, Rudy.

The word "fuck" has many uses. It can be a noun, verb, pronoun, adverb, adjective; it's also a common form of punctuation and even a prefix. However it's used, this expletive has become too common. It's unnecessary. Problem is, many think it's "okay" to verbally fornicate with regularity. They often , and their "freedom of speech" is at stake. My position: learn better grammar. Read a fucking book, dumbass. Preferably a classic, when profanity wasn't as common as goose turds in downtown Milwaukie. Maybe then, your vocabulary will improve. Otherwise, keep your gutter mouth outta my damn bus. Try watching Mr. Rogers reruns for cryin' out loud.

My summer work is hard, but a refreshing change. I was late a lot this week. This aging body is feeling its age. But I get to regularly view our city skyline from a uniquely picturesque vantage point. I no longer dread going to work. Learning a new schedule has my brain engaged on a higher level. My next book is based on this route. The wheels are moving in new directions, my tanks are charging, and I hope to meet more interesting people over the summer. The paycheck should improve a bit, and with any luck, my book will finally hit the online shelves.

Summer's almost here, and I'm all for it. Let the sun shine, and will someone please turn off the fucking rain? Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Top 3 reasons not to cuss on the bus:

    - Because it's always offensive to someone else. This is not your private limousine, this is transportation for the masses. Keep it, "Rated 'G' for General Audiences."
    - Because it's often inflammatory and argumentative.
    - And, because it occasionally leads to violence.

    So, we’re not going there. Not on my bus, we’re not!

    --The Rampant Lion