Friday, November 30, 2018

Rolling into the End

This signup is about to end, and some of the people I've served will be missed. It's interesting how people can ride your bus every day, not say much, and become some of my favorite people.

It was a busy day, but Thursdays usually are. Fighting my ornery side has been a full-time endeavour lately. Today, I concentrated on complimenting some of my more-memorable riders.

Over the past few weeks, I've come to appreciate Taz. When she boards her beaming smile warms the whole bus. She seems to be a very happy girl. Taz asks me how I am, and unlike others, seems to actually care about my answer. Tonight as she came aboard, I told her how much I appreciate her lovely smile and sweet demeanor. She sat up front and we chatted a bit about our jobs. I'm sure as a telephone rep, her customers are put at ease because I'm certain her smile shines through the lines. Thanks Taz, for brightening up a sometimes cloudy day.

One passenger nearly found himself on my wrong side. As I approached a shared stop with another bus ahead, he did what many do by walking toward my bus. Folks, the bus stop is at the pole, and that's where I pick folks up; not in the second position. Let us come to you; walking toward a moving bus makes us nervous. This fellow looked perturbed when I pointed him toward the first position as the first bus started to move. After six hours behind the wheel with abbreviated breaks due to being late, my fuse is in need of repair. This guy lumbered on board with a beanie cap covering his lengthy locks, pulled so low his eyes were mostly covered. Internally, I named him Cousin It. He didn't say a word, just stared at me. I thought he would say something rude, so I simply smiled at him. That was probably the right thing to do. He sat down, and I grumbled to myself but brushed it off. When he exited a while later, he was actually very nice, so I'm glad I didn't growl at him.

Melvin the Cajun chef is another one I'll miss. He's always smiling when I see him. His recipes spoken aloud are drool-inspiring. Kindness exudes from this gentle soul, and draws you in. Then there's the always-sweet Alejandra, who made her debut in this blog a few posts ago. She reminds me of my daughter or a few of my sons' friends. Just a very kind lass who feels as if she belongs in my family. This college student might just end up a guest at our dinner table someday, if she's willing. A long distance from home, she needs people here to love her and offer fellowship. I've become pretty good at being "Dad" to many whom I've not sired; there's always room in my heart for more.

Johnny is a big fellow, deep voice and warm-faced jewel of a hard-working American. Some druggie tried to steal his backpack one day, and he chased the offender and well... let's just say the dude won't give our hero any more trouble. On my bus, Johnny shines quietly with an abundance of kindness. I'll miss him because he lights up the last run of what is usually a very hard day.

Several of these wonderful people have told me this week they'll miss my driving, and that has been very pleasing. Every day, I work diligently to provide a smooth roll, no matter what the clock says. Whether I'm late or on time, it's imperative to remain on-task, focused. You don't make up time by skimping on safety. It takes years to learn the discipline necessary to roll peacefully. At the end of the line on your break is when you curse all the reasons you were late, kick a wheel and allow yourself to cool off. While the wheel is rolling, just let it go or it eats you up and mistakes happen. I've made enough stupid gaffes to know this.

Parts of this run I'll miss next week when the new route requires my full attention. The people, mostly. These folks are professional transit riders, always have their fare ready, don't waste time boarding, know when I'm late they need to grab a hand-hold or stanchion. They don't argue, know and follow the rules. Some of them stop as they exit to thank me for being smooth. When you have a bus full of standees, that's nice to hear. You don't want to drive roughly because somebody could fall and get hurt. People who know me understand I can't handle creating pain for anyone. This is something that would haunt me a long time. Not just the hassle of report-writing and dealing with an over-zealous management...

What I won't miss about this run is the traffic and Portland's lack of intelligent road design and traffic light sequencing. Woe be it to me to dare offend Oregon's piss-poor traffic engineers, but I'd bet a small town's staff would be better-suited to overhaul our antiquated system than whoever does it now. Traffic lights are on a timer no matter the time of day. Traffic sits unnecessarily at a red light while the cross-street's light is green for nobody. There's no rhyme or reason. Different parts of town have variable patterns that make little sense. On this route, it's maddening how the lights waste so much of our time, and you never hear any of these billions spent on roads being earmarked for traffic signal modernization. Less-traveled streets should not have hard-red left turn signals, especially when there's nobody to take advantage of a cross-street green light. It's madness, and should be changed. Unfortunately, it will take years of "study" before they pass the test.

As I sail into the next signup, I thank some very sweet folks: Ale, Johnny, Taz, Melvin and a few others I can't name. Unitil we meet again, it's time for me to roll toward another part of town. It will be a while, but perhaps I'll be back. For now, I'll enjoy finding new (and perhaps old) smiling faces to help me continue rolling smoothly along.


  1. For such a "green" city, the taffic signals are a abomination. How much fuel is burned just sitting at these meaningless red lights?

  2. Several years back I contacted Washington County to complain about a traffic light near my home and spoke to a real person who actually made an adjustment. Perhaps this would work in Portland?