My first wife follows me?
Or is this Lady Maybelline's
Topics for bloggery have lately been rare. I've even considered letting the blog go. However, it's hard to stop because there's still so much to say. The major problem is recognizing which subjects don't contribute to reader fatigue. I've run some things into the ground, and readership has fallen. My response is to become a bit more tuned into writing new projects and being more picky about what I publish here.
Thanks to you, dear readers, From the Driver Side recently recorded its 200,000th hit, just a few months shy of Deke's fifth birthday. This operator has changed radically from the one I was when I began blogging, and you've helped me grow both as a transit employee and as a writer. It seems we need to fight even harder these days for better working conditions, and I'll try to keep informing the public of our collective plight.
Enough wind for this post though, it's time to have some fun.
* * * * *
My route this signup has its share of wannabe-comics and bad actors. Some antics I can artfully ignore, others I have to gently remind to behave. Still others provoke me into outright orneriness. No matter how much I fight the impulses I'm known to periodically indulge in, I sometimes cannot resist. Here are the results of my latest exploits.
One passenger has what she self-diagnosed as "learning disability." It's evident however that she's just a drunk. This was magnified a few nights ago, when she tapped a fellow passenger on the shoulder and was chastised for doing so.
"Don't touch me, please," a young lady asked her.
"What," the accused replied, "it's against the law to touch someone these days? Chill out, I just wanted to ask you something."
This loudmouth had an interesting appearance. Lipstick and other makeup was smeared across her face as if she were a test-dummy for a four-year-old cosmetic apprentice. When she boarded, I was momentarily surprised. After five years, little jolts my attention, but this one did. (Imagine a toddler wielding red and black magic markers upon the face of your late, Great Aunt Wanda's portrait.)
An argument ensued between the two passengers. I intervened before something drastic could happen.
"Look, Maybelline," I said into the loudspeaker. Immediately regretting my choice of nicknames, it was still gratifying to hear some snickers among the 30-plus others aboard. "Either you shut yer yap, stop your talkin', or somebody's gonna be walkin'. I can truly guarantee it ain't gonna be me."
Silence, for a blissful five seconds.
"What did you call me, driver?" Maybelline responded.
"Never mind," I snapped. "You're harassing people, and I won't allow that on my bus. So please watch your manners, or leave."
I hadn't left the stop. Maybelline became belligerent.
"I was just trying to ask..." I didn't let her finish.
"And I heard her tell you she wasn't interested in speaking with you. That shoulda been a hint."
"It's none of your business what I do on this bus!" she shouted.
"Au contraire," I countered. "Everything that happens on this bus most certainly is my business, and I'd appreciate your cooperation if you want to continue riding." My voice had lowered a bit, but the icy tone remained.
My hand moved to my Computer Aided Dispatch panel, poised as if I were about to push the "Emergency" button.
"Shall I contact the police?" I asked as she continued to argue.
"NO!" she sounded panicked. "If you do that, I'll go back to jail for six months! I'll behave, I have to get home before curfew!"
Not wishing incarceration upon anybody in this day of the prison industrial complex wanting more of my tax dollars, I decided to give her another chance. She was calm and subdued the rest of her trip, and the passenger she had offended forgave her and actually engaged in a (somewhat) intelligent conversation. I sighed in relief.
After she exited my bus, another passenger placed his hand upon my shoulder and said, "Nicely handled, driver. But wow, she was a trip!"
"Thanks," I replied, "but someone should send the Avon Lady over to give her a few cosmetic lessons, eh?"
"Yeah," he said. "Like a whole semester's worth."
* * * * *
Management's insistence on our being on time has resulted in some concerns. Some drivers are pushing the limits, running lights and rolling a bit faster than safety dictates. A friend of mine and I were discussing this a few days ago, both admitting it's advisable to roll as we've been trained. If there's a problem with schedule, take it to Scheduling. Don't push yourselves to a limit that could lead to discipline or worse yet, a collision resulting in a Preventable Accident. Our main priority is to drive smooth and safe. If management doesn't like it, too bad. We're behind the wheel; they're behind a desk in a comfy office chair. Just be careful out there, brothers and sisters.
* * * * *
And finally, I had one passenger give me the age-old brush off one night when I asked him to keep his feet off the seats.
"Just shut up and drive, asshole," he said. "I pay your salary."
"Dude," I replied, "you didn't even pay your fare!"