Sunday, February 10, 2019

Nopocalypse '19

It was actually snowing as the sun shone under a bright winter's sky.
As if to say, "Ha, WeatherDude, you failed."

Deke's Note: Sometimes, you just gotta drink until the pain goes to a place that doesn't bother you. No, I'm not an alcoholic. I wait until my week is done, then I tip a few whiskeys (or whiskys) to alleviate the aches and pains of an aging bus operator. This is simply a writing exercise performed following a 54-hour week behind the wheel. I'm under the influence now, but not then. Here's my take on the snowstorm that never was, or might still happen when the weatherman is under the influence and feeling invincible.

When I was a newbie, each day was an adventure. Now it's a race to see if I can make it to the end of another day of driving. The past few days have been an exercise in faith (of my own intuition) vs. the sensationalism of (fake) news weathermen wreaking havoc with hysterical weather forecasts. I should trust myself more than I do them. While January was nice and dry/sunny for this time of year in Portland, I knew something would come about to slap us upside the head weather-wise in February. Here it is, and instead of the face-slam, we were treated to a HAHA in which the weatherman was drastically incompetent... again.

Mr. Weatherman gave the grocery stores a windfall when he predicted "14-18 inches of snow on Saturday and Sunday." Even that dreadfully-tasting hipster kale was stripped of Freddie's shelves by Friday night, not to mention the cheapest 18-racks of brewskies. Knowing the folly associated with heeding the predictions of Portland's overpaid weather dudes/ettes, this Homey didn't buy into that game. We've been burned by sensational forecasts before, only to have a real snowstorm catch us by surprise when nothing was forecast. Besides, my apartment's management is too cheap to provide us with a freezer big enough to simultaneously stock much more than a few bags of veggies or fries. It's more cost-effective to wait it out, then walk over as necessary and purchase whatever remains on the shelves. (They couldn't even give us a fridge with a rack inside the freezer, let alone one that's wider than my pansa.)

There's a grammatical error here...
Picked up my bus today just under 10 minutes late. Kudos to the driver I relieve. That's pretty good, considering she was running with full chains on dry pavement all morning. (Thanks, Mr. Weatherdude Failure.) I can't blame management (this year) for making the call to put hard chains on our duals, because every channel seemed to be screaming "SNOWFALL OF THE CENTURY." Turns out, a few flurries here and there, but nada everywhere else. I just shook my head and told myself, "you've got this Deke, whatever Ma Nature feeds us." Turns out it was just another Super Sale advertisement for the grocery stores. As a newbie, I might have shivered a bit in anticipation of a rough day. Now, it's an exciting challenge to ensure I avoid sliding into trouble. It turned into a disappointing chunka-thunka roll into unnecessary bondage.

I rolled hard chains onto dry streets all day. It was 25mph the duration of my 12-hour roll. Luckily, my normal onslaught of Saturday passengers chose to stay cozy at home, and I ran on-time about 90 percent.

Waking earlier than usual after my late-night weekday run, I stumbled out of dream nirvana shortly after the first snooze alarm to squint through the blinds. Whiteness flurried about, my car sitting under four inches of powder. Big freakin' deal, I thought. Still, it didn't mean I could slack. No telling what the rest of town looked like after last night's Snowmageddon '19 forecast. Better get there early and not risk an oversleep if something en route to work slowed me down.

After a scant five hours of pillow time, I stumbled into the shower and dressed myself a full 45-minutes earlier than I normally do. Gotta get to work, it's the transit operator's code, I said to myself. No snow days for bus drivers. Those are for corporate wussies, not front line transit workers. It's a matter of pride to a seasoned operator: show up no matter the conditions, and do your job. We take working America to work, and take pride in it. And they depend upon us to get them there. Nurses, maids, construction workers, doctors, restaurant personnel, transit management... we get you there. Corporate America, students, teachers... you can take the day off if an errant snowflake drops into your yard, but everyone else is expected to be there. And we're your ride.

As I rattled along the dry pavement all day, I marveled at how few people believed the forecaster. My bus was only half as full as a normal weekend day. Just as well. At 25mph maximum, I rolled along on time all day until the end. My last run just happens to be the final full-length run of my line, so running late is okay. I don't want to leave anyone behind, or they can expect an expensive Uber or Lyft ride home in freezing temps. So late I am, on the last run. No big deal anyway... I get paid by the minute either way.

Rolling to my road relief 45-minutes earlier
than usual.... it was all for naught.
Most people were simply the normal "thank you" riders. It seemed our weather was a total letdown. All the preparation and hype warranted not a single "thank you for working today." It was just business as usual. "You got me there, good enough," was the vibe I felt from the passengers. Nothing special, just another weather anomaly, nothing to get excited about. Just as well... after 40 hours on a Jerry Springer route, this is my chillaxation roll.

SNOWpocalypse '19... so far, it's "NOpocalypse." I could be wrong, but my bones tell me it's just gonna be business as usual in Portland the next few weeks. My forecast: cold, windy and wet. The rest is pure speculation. Typical Northwest weather. But mark me: next winter holds a special sequence of slippery shit. We're due for a big one. Just not this year.

Don't slip when you happen to diss the weather dude, y'all. It might hurt ya.


  1. Wow, I guess putting chains on busses is a big deal but I can't imagine driving all day with them on dry streets. That must make it harder to control the bus and can't be good the bus or the streets. Baltimore is the land of pot holes so I'm just envisioning the havoc. We're anticipating a snow-sleet-rain mess the next couple days, so they already sprayed salt slurries on the main roads. I prefer my salt on a margarita rim, myself.
    Stay warm, my friend!