Deke's Note: Wondering what happened to me? For a while, I did as well, wandering around in a writer's haze. Burnout? I thought so at first, but nah. I just needed a break. When you blog for several years, it becomes an addiction. How many hits today? Are there any comments? I just needed some time to rest, to read, work on my new book. But tonite, it's time to reconnect with my old friend, FTDS. I've been refining my passenger interactions and overall driving. Bad habits are too easily overlooked, until something bad happens. It's best to catch them early. Thanks for reading, and for your patience.
What is it with suicidal motorists lately? They're in a hurry to go nowhere fast. Glancing in my left mirror, I prepare to leave a stop. Yield light blinks on as soon as I flip the door handle and I'm gauging speeds of oncoming maniacs. Long ago as a truck driver, I learned the "turn signal, three seconds, GO" rule of driving a large vehicle. In a bus, I allow four seconds, if the car is an acceptable distance behind. The problem comes when Barry Beemer sees my OBEY THE LAW blinker activate, he speeds up and zips past only to slam on his brakes to avoid slamming into the car ahead of him. Instead of slowing just a bit to let me out, he's got to show me who's boss.
I've learned not to humor these fools. I just pull out when I determine the distance is plenty enough for Billy to slow down. It's fun to guess exactly when he'll lay on his horn (fingers snap), and I play out in my mind the furious meltdown he's having back there. Bellowing and honking, as if I care about his tantrum. Too bad Billy, I hate BMW's, and you're driving one. If a cop ever was around when he blasts by me, maybe he'd get a ticket. If cops actually cared about that particular law, that is. Anyway, Billy gets extra points if he passes me with his IQ showing out the window, then cuts me off as if to say "I'll show you, asshole bus driver!" Of course, then he has to slam on his brakes because Granny Goosethumper lumbers along just ahead at 25mph under the limit. Someday, Billy's gonna have his asshole meet his mouth when he pulls that maneuver and the bus slams into his trunk.
It takes years of driving to constantly predict the antics of Beemers, Benzies, BigTrucks and various other Boneheads. Sometimes, it's the only thing to blast the monotony, and at that point it becomes my spectator sport. I drive carefully, but when you're hitting every stop on a busy road, it pays to be efficient and precise. I'm simultaneously welcoming passengers with my other eye on the rearviews, gauging my re-entry point. Tractor trailers get an immediate pass; it's monumentally more difficult for those drivers to slow down than a passenger vehicle. Various delivery trucks (UPS, US Mail, etc.) are also afforded leniency because they too are on a schedule. Certain large 4x4's are actually very attentive and blink their lights at me, giving me space to merge. They get a courtesy wave out the window, even when it's pouring down rain.
Once in a while, even autos give me the go as well, and it's refreshing. I'll throw on the 4-ways for two flashes as thanks. But I can tell just who in that mirror doesn't give a tinker's damn about safety, the law or my schedule. They're more important than everyone on my pokey bus, and drive a devil's pace in a rush to their own funeral. If I safely piss them off, oh well. Hey, if our transit agency won't engage in a traffic safety promotional campaign other than illegible stickers on the back of our bus along with cutesy-wootsie signs with childish slogans, then we're the Eddy-cashun Committee. On my route, if you don't assert yourself, you're 10+ minutes late every run. And this Homey don't play that game.
* * * * *Driving the same route every day, you have routine passengers and then you're surprised with a gem. This guy boards one afternoon, a wee bit older than I, using a cane due to bad knees. His sweatshirt amplified his coolness. It made me chuckle, then laugh aloud. Two words: "Service Animal." We struck up a chat, and it was immediately obvious this cat was cool. He told me he's lived in several countries including Scotland, Ireland, England, Spain, Italy and Greece. I may have missed a few. Said he got drunk one night and joined the U.S. Army where he stayed for 20 years. He's in Portland visiting friends and being doctored at the VA Hospital.
Of course, we hear all kinds of stories, most of them likely tall tales. They come from people who don't know when to shut up, but continually drone on in boring-tone using words which don't belong in an inanely-sordid tale. These types evoke the biggest of yawns from me, and sometimes that does the trick. I don't care what you went to jail for or what your old lady did with the neighbor while you were in lockdown. (Yet another reason I dislike "Orange is the New Black.")
But this guy... he didn't try to impress. He just knew how to speak. He was engaging, often fascinating. Then he told me this joke:
A Scot walks into a bar and tells the barkeep: "I want you to line up 10 shots of your finest Scotch whisky."
The barkeep obliges, somewhat surprised by the order. No sooner than he pours them, the Scot starts slamming them down as quickly as he can.
"Whoa lad," barkeep says. "That's me finest Scotch whisky! It's meant to be sipped, savored, not thrown back like cheap stuff."
As he's about to down #9, the Scot shakes his head. "Aye lad, but you'd drink fast too if you had what I have."
The barkeep looks shocked, and asks, "Oh dear... what is it that you have, lad?"
"About 75 cents."