Sunday, October 1, 2017

I Want to Smile

My brother told me today how he and my other brother Darryl noticed I was looking "old" these days. It is so noticeably true. A youthful countenance has always been a trademark of mine... until this job consumed me.

I've said before how this job ages me five years for every year I work it. Since I'll soon mark my fifth year as a bus operator, I doubt that I've aged 25 years, but my face betrays the stress we all endure behind the wheel.

I'm scared sometimes. We just "banded together" to show Portland how assaults affect us. We all wonder if and when we'll become another number. A grisly statistic. Who will take offense to our insisting they abide and respect the ride? Will I live through this job, or retire into a casket like so many of our brothers and sisters worldwide? These thoughts, and the toils of the job, all add to the aging factor of your friendly bus operator.

After Big Bro told me this, I studied my face in the mirror, comparing it to the youthful mug captured in training. In five years, lines have replaced the smooth contours of my countenance. Looking deeper, I see my soul is scarred. Sure, most people are kind and I enjoy meeting them as I maneuver the Beast along our quirky lanes. But everyone who boards these days is met with my "Will you be the one who scars me forever?" look. I hate that. People have always fascinated me, and I've met some pretty cool folks along the way. Until lately though, I've never looked at them with trepidation and hesitation. My once rose-colored glasses are clearer than I prefer now.

The lines under my eyes underscore the sorrow beneath the joy I've always tried to find. Luckily, my smile lines remain. When a passenger drops their wallet in a rush to catch the next bus and another picks it up and runs to give it back, I smile. As a motorist sees another who's been waiting an infernal several minutes to turn into traffic and stops to let them in, I flash them my brights in appreciation and nod at them as we pass each other by. When a pedestrian pulls another blinded by their cell phone out of the path of my bus, I breathe an audible sigh of appreciation.

I'd like to think there are more good events on the road than bad, it's the former which add to the aging factor of a bus operator. Yet I try to remember the good more than the bad, and that keeps my smiles in line.

Thanks Portland, for always giving me more reasons to grin than frown.


  1. I don't know if this comment got posted via Facebook it's always a chore trying to post comments to sites that arent originated on Facebook so if the comment didn't come through here it is again
    When I started all this blogging about the job and when the job ended I started researching not just Trimet but public transportation in general in United States and around the world what became apparent to me is the sheer brutality of the public transportation industrial complex in this country.

    When you rise above all the false propaganda that districts like Trimet spew out about their wonderfulness all you can really see is abuse. Abuse Of riders and of the people doing the work.

    From buses and trains that don't show up or show up more than 15 minutes late leaving riders stranded in whatever the weather happens to be at that moment or packing riders into buses and trains like dead sardines get packed in their cans the public transportation experience in the United States is more like A torture chamber

    And the drivers, subjected to horrible working conditions like split shifts, schedules that just don't work, angry riders who have nowhere to vent their anger but the drivers, working so early in the mornings or so late at nights family life is just a fantasy, no weekends or holidays off for years in some instances. It's a life of hard sacrifices

    The horrors of American public transportation are real, if only I had the talent to write a decent novel on this scam.

    The only people that don't suffer at the hands of the public transportation industrial complex are the technocratic aristocracy who get fat paychecks and huge retirements and spend their days 'working' 9-5 in nice air conditioned offices away from the tragedy they foist on everyone else.

    And then there is the Crony capitalism part that is skillfully hidden from the public. You know, the people that made a cool $35 million installing the HOP card, or the $1.4 billion installing that light rail line to Milwaukee.

    Yes there are winners in the public transportation field, just not anybody who actually rides regularly or finds themselves stuck operating the vehicles. They are the victims of the complex.

    Yes, being a bus driver will age you, or cripple you, and I know more than a few that didnt make it out alive.

    1. If at all possible, I hope to write the novel you desire. Meanwhile, my book of blog posts will be out soon. Thanks for always being there, pushing me, encouraging and helping shed light on the demons of transit. Peace, brother.

  2. Very nice, operator. Be safe out there brother and keep on grinning ��.

    1. Thank you Aaron! My book will be out soon, on Amazon. Hope you like it!