Monday, July 30, 2018

Our Union Minute

What a fun day! I had the honor of being the guest on Henry Beasley's "The Union Minute" FaceBook Live program yesterday afternoon. He and his lovely wife Farida (Freddie), whom I adore, graciously invited my wife and I into their beautiful home for an insightful, informative and fun chat about many topics transit operators can all relate to.

When I was in Line Training, a passenger got on board with a nasty attitude, telling me I was "overpaid and rich." At the time, I was but a nervous newbie, making a whopping $10 an hour just learning how to keep this rascal and everyone else... SAFE. I took immediate offense to his diatribe. After three years of scratching and clawing just to keep my family housed and fed during the Great Recession, I was eternally grateful and proud to be gainfully employed as a professional bus operator. I wanted to slap the loudmouthed prick, but my Line Trainer set him straight, guiding him away from my righteous indignation so I could drive without distraction. There was no FTDS at that time. I was just another newbie trying to make it through training and probation without a scratch so that eventually, I'd be able to earn the top of the wage scale.

Years later, I'm very grateful. I've lived through stories too numerous to remember, and have found a new direction in life. We can all think of things we might have done differently in our past, but it becomes obvious that everything we experience has meaning that cannot, often should not ever, be ignored. Therefore, changing our past, even if it was possible, would deny us valuable lessons to carry forward. My current situation may not be anything I had ever imagined 30 years ago, but I'm exactly where I should be. Life is good. Unlike some, I have a loving family, a decent place to live, and an honorable profession. There is much to be grateful for, and I constantly remind myself of these numerous blessings. That's because I'm constantly trying to improve myself, always reaching for something bigger, hoping to provide the best for my loved ones.

Putting myself "out there," such as in interviews such as Henry afforded me and radio stations or other outlets from Portland to Nova Scotia, is actually a bigger step for these huge clodhoppers of mine than I ever dreamed of taking. My father taught me the value of being humble while striving to make life better, even for a fleeting moment, for those with whom I interact. If you meet me in person, I probably don't make a lasting impression. Socially clumsy at times, my mouth doesn't react as well as my writing digits do. Just remember however, that you make a lasting impression upon me. Each contact I'm graced with, whether personally or professionally, is of memorable value. Having the honor of knowing Henry, as well as many of the candidates, has been a lesson in humility and an inspiration to help you all however I can. Individually, we're a whisper. Collectively, that whisper becomes a roar that demands notice.

Talking with Henry was fun, but listening to him was an even greater reward. We should all be so vocal as he is. Mr. Beasley put himself out there running for President of our local, laid out his plan for our future. While he came up short in the vote count, he won a valuable victory in that he offered himself for the benefit of us all. That's how unions work. We may not always agree collectively, but we stand together. Once the votes were cast, Henry was one of the few to attend the meeting during which our victorious officers were sworn in. His lesson of solidarity is one we can all learn from. It doesn't matter whether you agree with our leaders. It is vital however, that we rise together, make our voices heard, and become part of a solution. Apathy only lends itself to collective weakness.

My answers may not all have been what Henry expected, but I tried to reflect my respect for him and everyone else who works in transit. We all have complaints and concerns, but when we walk into the bullpen after each shift, we're equals. When I wave to you "out there," it's a gesture of respect. You might be another operator, a supervisor, trainee, mechanic or rail operator... I wave as a salute to your contribution. It's a demanding yet rewarding job, and I can now understand we all face challenges the Average Joe can't always fathom.

This blog is meant to describe life "from the driver side" of a bus. Sometimes it's fun, others it's difficult. We do a damned good job, in spite of the obstacles placed before us. As long as we have each other, every day is just a bit easier than it would be without the support we give and receive.

Thanks, Henry. Thank you President Block, VP Hunt, Sec/Treas Longoria, all our dedicated local reps, ATU International President Hanley and everyone who works in transit. I value your work on our behalf, and you honor me with your service. Additionally, I appreciate the blood shed for us in past battles which were fought for the good of us all. To all past and present, I extend my respect and love. You have my back, and I am eternally grateful.

In solidarity, I am your
Deke N. Blue
Bus Operator


  1. I'm a relative newbie to transit here in Akron, OH. I appreciate the thoughts and experienced that you share. Jim