Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Threading the Speedy Needle

It's late. Even for me. The sun will rise soon, but soon I will fall. It's been another strenuous week, but one sans intensity. That's rare, and I'll take it.

The week started with an exhilarating FaceBook Live session with my friend and brother Henry Beasley on “The Union Minute.” It was a hot summer day, one we all dream of during the dreary wet weariness of a January snow-ice storm. Talking with Henry puts life as a transit operator into a stark reality. We all have a personal experience, but he has a way of putting light onto the darkest corners of the transit roll.

Henry asked some tough questions. Some, regarding union politics, I dodged as gracefully as possible. Mostly, it was a great discussion about issues we face behind the wheel as well as my book JUST DRIVE (available here). Thanks Henry!

Another honor was having the book recognized in ATU International's magazine, "In Transit." Sales have risen nicely, thanks to these recent media events!

Soon afterward, I was back in the seat. Weekend? What weekend? It's time to drive again.

Even though Portland is plagued by weekly protest, constant road construction, heat-weary and ever-impatient motorists, we keep rolling on fast forward. Most of us make it through the week; others don't live to see the next one.

Although I've driven over a half-century in some form of motored vehicle, I still don't understand why people are in such a hurry to get nowhere... fast. Speed kills, they told me long ago. Even then, I knew speed had its limits, both on and off road varieties. Every mile an hour a bus travels is deadly. Multiply 35mph x 40,000 pounds, and the amount of force is 1.4 million pounds coming at you. Yeah, I stay at the speed LIMIT, sometimes under.

My high school buddies and I had no idea how close to death we ventured, racing rival teens down Main Street at 130mph. It was a rush, adrenalin-pumping the blood that could have just as easily gushed outward rather than remain within our testosterone-charged bodies. One mistake and we all could have died instantly. Yet we live to tell the tale as we prepare for our 40th reunion. How very lucky we were.

Granted, the Main Street Race of the 20th Century was but 3/4-mile long. There were no traffic lights in town then, and it was about three in the morning. TransAm vs. supercharged 1971 Chevelle, at least five people in each vehicle. Our brains couldn't comprehend the danger; we just wanted to win.

As I grasp the wheel of a 20-ton bus and watch noisy Hondas trying to act NASCAR, it amuses yet scares me. I'm reminded of the lucky angel on my shoulder, holding on to a weary thread slipping off my aging shoulder. It eventually left three of the Traveling Wilburys (Nelson, Lefty and Charlie... RIP); only two remain. How long will my own leprechaun keep me rolling safe?

You never know when a slip will slide into your heavy path. Be vigilant my friends. The devil's always hoping for your demise... keep him at arm's length. He's a pesky bastard.

1 comment:

  1. A bus driver's 'weekend' is gone in a blink.

    The sheer variety and volume of poor driving makes it a miracle there aren't more accidents. Most folks try to do the right thing, but distractions seem to be increasing. Now I love the space cushion way more than I did in my pre-CDL days.

    Congrats on the In Transit shout-out!