I've said farewell before, then waffled. It's you, dear readers, who keep this blog alive. When I began FTDS in May of '13, it was simply a writing exercise. It became a working man's journal and then something people could identify with. It reached its peak just over a year ago, and it felt wonderful to earn over 15,000 hits in one month.
Five years is a long time to write anything, and soon it began to lose steam. Resonance faded, as did the writer's muse. It became more difficult to find topics that weren't reruns. My posts were scrolled past by countless mice that once clicked upon them. Yet, the blog kept calling me back, as did you. Every day "out there," we're gifted some tidbit that intrigues, bringing us back to the driver's seat. Then, there are long stretches of days that blend into one another as if they're one long and boring act of a continuous play. Part of me wanted to leave it all behind and begin anew. However, it seems this blog has become attached to my persona. I can't just walk away, even when I believed that its time had passed.
Some people actually look forward to reading these posts. To a writer, that's the pull... a drug, of sorts. Even though reading is quickly becoming a thing of the past, it's vital we never leave it behind. We've become a society accustomed to short sound bites instead of actual literature. When confronted with an opinion which differs from our own, we dismiss and move on. Even if it seems strongly opposite of my belief system, I force myself to read what others have to say on a subject. It helps to see another's vision, for our own are simply products of those who make an impact upon us. Long ago, it became evident to me that I'm not always right, and you're not always wrong.
While I avoid political themes here, it remains true that I am pro-union. It is also my firm belief that without a strong Middle Class, this country's economy is in peril. This rings true in this trade across the globe, because without transit, many who make each city's wheels roll ride upon ours to arrive at work and return home. We're not separate from those we serve, we live among you.
To leave this blog behind would be a mistake. Every week I'm blessed to find yet another who reads it. People are shy and don't usually make a comment. That doesn't mean they're disengaged or disinterested. I have a bad habit of taking things personally which matter little in the grand scheme. Perhaps it's because I'm a deeply-empathetic person. Maybe I'm just an old fool. Whatever the case, I'd rather be remembered for caring too much, than for not giving a damn.
Every day when preparing for work, I sing in the shower. Silly stuff, mostly. Love songs to my beloved. Tawdry ballads Daddy Blue sang, or tunes from Chuck Wagon and the Wheels, Glen Campbell or James Taylor. Whatever comes to my mind, this warbler belts it out. It is a habit I've had since childhood. When I sit at this keyboard, it's my aim to sing my stories to you. Sentence structure and cadence matter. The story may be the main attraction, but the manner in which it's presented is something I strive to perfect.
From The Driver Side has brought me together with many special people I would not have known otherwise. Tom Horton, Robert at BusTropical, Billy Alsheimer, Ed Carroll, Dwight Russell, Northwest Labor Press, The Portland Tribune, ATU International President Larry Hanley, our local ATU 757 officers and members, the wonderful folks at Oregon Public Broadcasting's "Think Out Loud" radio program, Audiobook Producer Kevin Meyer, my designer Heidi North, Darius Bunn, Aiden, Brett, Charles W., Al Margulies, Ellen Bryan, Joe Kunzler, Arden B. and scores of other people I've grown very fond of through my writing here.
Rather than leave you, I've decided to keep pecking away. It doesn't matter how many readers tune in. My audiobook is supposed to go "on tour" via a reviewing website online. The owner of this service asked if I had reached out to my "fans" to secure the required amount of reviewers. This question floored me. It's funny, because even though we hit 270,000 views early in December, only two people actually "follow" the blog on Blogspot. One of those died a few months ago, leaving me with ONE actual follower. I just shook my head. If promoting the tour on FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram isn't enough, then so be it. I wrote the book with the goal of describing the life of a bus operator. The rest is up to the general public.
The press largely abandoned me, likely because they're afraid of how powerful transit has become in Portland. They're bought and paid for now anyway, not true arbiters of what actually happens in our lives. When Willamette Week told me, after I dropped a copy of JUST DRIVE - Life in the Bus Lane for them to review, that they would "pass on it," my heart sank. They normally pounce on anything transit-related, but when some lowly bus driver writes a book it's not even worthy of a review? At that moment, I decided to "pass on" reading their rag any more. Besides, I can't smoke the pot they're so in love with growing on their rooftop, so why should I be invested in them? Afraid of transit management, just another corporate dishrag we can all live without. If you can't be bothered with reporting on the 100+ assaults on us in 2018 alone, then you're not relevant anyway.
No, I'm not bitter. I've just lived long enough to lump negativity behind me with life's other rubbish. You folks are my bread and butter. If anyone else wants in, they're quite welcome. It has become evident to me, however, that hustling for your attention takes too much energy I could put into writing. Like the blog? Good. Bought the book and read it? Excellent. That's quite enough for this old dog. If you share my writing and others catch on, that's great and I'm very thankful.
I'll keep writing here, but it may be less frequent than in years past. I need to feed the new muse which has grabbed my imagination. Driving a bus has become automated to me. There's little out there which surprises me these days. When I come up with something, I'll let you know. As promised, I'm committed to working on a series about our brothers and sisters who keep the wheels rolling in mechanical rhythm. I will delve deeply into the actual nuts and bolts which hold our rides together, exploring ways to strengthen bonds and foster greater understanding for each other.
Thanks for reading. Stephen King calls you "Constant Readers." While you may not be as great in number as his, he's been doing it longer and he's better at it. To me, you're the world, the biggest gift I've had besides being married to the most magical woman I've ever known.
Peace be with you this New Year. Please stay safe, wear bright clothing, watch the road rather than your phone, and be patient with and kind to one another. I'll see you next year, God willing and the Johnson Creek don't rise.