Monday, January 7, 2019

We Are As We See We Are

"I am I said
To no one there
and no one heard at all...
not even the chair."

--Neil Diamond

No matter how hard we try to avoid it, or whatever else we do in life, our jobs often come to define us once we've done it several years. Luckily for me, I've been a number of things in my life.

Bus operators are often looked down upon by society-at-large. The reason why escapes me. We're so many things other than bus operators prior to driving The Beast. Thousands of operators have had previous lives, have earned degrees, served in honor for our country and earned accolades in other eras of their lives. They certainly don't define themselves by this job, but there's no dishonor in doing so. We are who we believe ourselves to be.

Am I "just a bus operator?" At this moment in time, yes. And I'm proud of my profession; no, that's not all I am. Professional athletes move on in life after their bodies cannot endure the physical torture required by their jobs. People still think of Michael Jordan as a basketball player, but he's moved on to new ventures and may be surpassed by today's greatest player LeBron James. Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Earl Monroe and Wilt Chamberlain remain great alongside all who came before and after them. President Carter is considered a "weak" president even though he brought Egypt and Israel together in their peace accord, but today he's viewed as a great humanitarian who helps build houses well into his 90s. As for me, I'd be honored to be remembered as a bus operator and strong union supporter in my life, but I aspire to be worthy of praise as a writer before the Reaper breaks this grip on my loving soul.

Whatever your great love in life is, I heartily encourage you to live your love. So many people are afraid to fail, but if you've never tried and failed, you're only living to die, rather than truly living before you die. It can be a dreary existence to sit in your easy chair wondering "What if?" All you need to worry about impressing is the reflection in your mirror. Sometimes, it's all we have.

Daddy Blue was my example of how to live. He always told me to "have fun every day, no matter what's going on." Even in great pain the day he died, he found a way to have fun. I admire that passion so much it's become my life's work to emulate it. Not only in my art, but when I'm driving you and 800+ other folks around during the day. Some may not respond, or could be having a hard day (see Sad Dad...), but there are a few every day I feel a link with when I blink and crack a funny ha-ha.

There was a recent passenger who, upon boarding my bus, began complaining about how  she couldn't walk the mile home. Yeah, I can empathize as we all probably can. Life can be brutally tough, and while I felt a certain amount of pity for her, it also pissed me off a bit. Don't whine, because someone else is likely having a harder day than you can even imagine. Of course, each life is chock full of its own agony. To bemoan your own pitfalls usually doesn't earn respect.

So Whiny Wanda kept a running dialogue the entire 10 minutes she rode. I could feel the eye rolls of several people who likely had their own hell to deal with. A collective sigh of relief followed her off the bus. Feeling ornery, I keyed up the microphone.

"When someone reminds me of my first wife," I said in a droll tone, "my first instinct is to get her off the bus... quickly."

My passenger mirror revealed a half-dozen heads snap up at that comment.

"No," one grizzled veteran roared with laughter in his voice, "you didn't just go there! But yes, yes you did!" He joined a few others who found humor in my biting joke. I smiled, because he did.

Making people laugh is a challenge, and I enjoy seeing people smile. It's good for you to smile and laugh. Life gives us enough to make us frown or be angry. I learned long ago to let the bad roll off my shoulder and try to give some folks a lift up whenever possible.

"It may sound kinda cruel, but I've been silent too long, so Thank God and Greyhound you're gone," I sang, a nod to the late, great Roy Clark. The ride was much more fun and lively afterwards.