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Deacon Who?

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(Note: Ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily shared by the transit agency I work for. This is simply an expression of free speech while describing the work bus operators perform.) I have been (and called) many things in this life. Most of all, I'm a writer who happens to drive a bus. In May of '13 I thought it would be fun to write about my job. As a direct result of this blog, I published a book in November of 2017 called "JUST DRIVE - Life in the Bus Lane" that is available on Amazon. I write to provide insight as to what it's like on a bus... From The Driver Side. Thank you for reading!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Showering Our People



Deke's Note: Time for some annoyances displayed for those who ride our noble rolls. Since our transit management is remiss in its duties to instruct our public on what to expect from its most valuable employees, it falls upon your faithful transit blogger to do so. I truly disliked writing this post, but it must be done for lack of anyone else daring to state these potent points.

How I wish I could speak my mind with passengers! Instead of being able to Shower My People with love, I'm often forced to lay down the law. For being such a transit-dependent metropolis, Portland's passengers are spoiled, largely-ignorant and sometimes horribly-rude to their operators. I must say though, the bad apples are easier to ignore when most people are decent to us. Here are some of our most common gripes about those we transport safely and with constant attention to their safety.

First, I must heartily protest our union making a backroom deal with management regarding cameras focused on operators. You did NOT consult US about this. If you had, then it would have been voted down unanimously. Given management's constant disdain for its frontline workers, you should have known this is a recipe for disaster. Had you asked, we would have insisted video of our actions be activated only when necessary, not as a constant spy camera surely to be used as any excuse to discipline us for not being perfect. We're humans, as opposed to the robots management hopes to someday replace us with. When something bad happens, management's pampered passengers will surely capture it on video. If operator cameras were automatically activated when we hit the Panic Button, you would have all the evidence necessary to convict our assailants. Instead, management will use Big Brother surveillance to discipline us for any number of mistakes we fallible humans might make while rolling wheels. Why do I feel so against it? Because of the many false and misleading complaints filed against us which should never see the light of day but end up in our file.

Management fails to properly train us in verbal judo, or allow us basic self defense, yet expect perfection anyway. Thanks union leaders, for caving in to management's constant harassment of us, now with our imperfections captured forever on tape. No wonder some within our ranks are choosing not to pay union dues; you failed to ask our permission for your backroom deals. Forgive me for venturing to say this, but a panel of a few operators does not constitute a quorum; we deserve a say in this matter and our leadership has failed us here.

Next, I heard a rumor which tells me our names and badge numbers will soon displayed on our vehicles. This is a horrible breach of operator safety. Piss someone off and they can instantly Google our address and anything else the worldwide web has on us. While we are "public servants," our names should not EVER be available unless we feel comfortable providing this information. Otherwise, our identity should always be "Mr./Ms./Mrs. Bus Operator." Period.

* * * * *

"Please have your fare ready when you board!" is something I mutter to myself constantly. People will wait 15-30 minutes for a bus, idly scrolling their social networks, but when the bus rolls up, they jump on board (or stand just outside the door as the traffic light turns green) and fiddle-fart around with their phone or self-jerk their pockets as precious seconds tick off. If you say anything to them about their being rudely-unprepared to board, they're likely to shoot off a complaint via the "TextABitch" line at our transit agency about how their "operator was rude to me." People tend to blame others for their faults rather than humbly muttering apologies for their inconsiderate acts. Coupled with our management's out-of-touch mentality, it's enough to piss off the Pope. We're expected to "stay on time" no matter what the situation, but management does nothing to educate its pampered public as to how to actually board a transit vehicle. Passengers who dally while boarding are the biggest time-wasters we face, second only to traffic boneheads.

"No, I can't sell you a monthly pass," is another mundane reply I say to people who board every day. "You can buy one at any major grocery or the local transit store on the Square." Well, color me an asshole, why don't ya? I only drive the bus you're begging to get on as seconds click past on my time clock. I'm nothing but an annoyance to you, even though I've slaved through hordes of idiots on the road to get to your stop safely and on time. I sell 2.5 hour and day passes ONLY. Where have you been the past five decades, since Jackie Gleason provided change?

Having a smoke 'n toke break, I'm often approached by those unfortunate to afford their own nicotine habit. "No," I tell them with varying degrees of patience, "I cannot give you a cigarette while in uniform, it's against transit policy. And NO you can't have a drag off my vape. Ugh!" Hey folks, if you can't afford a pack of smokes, perhaps it's time you quit. Don't ask an operator on break for anything. Having dealt with any number of people the past one-to-two hours, your problems are of no concern to us. Our management may believe we're beholden to anyone we encounter, but our breaks are sacrosanct, thank you very much. Give us the few minutes of break we're entitled to. It gives us the peace required to get back in the seat and provide you a safe ride.

"What time does Line XX arrive at Point S?" I don't know. I don't drive that line. No, I haven't memorized the thousands of schedules associated with our transit agency. If I had, I'd be too fucking smart to work here. Maybe I'd be another billionaire who takes advantage of the undereducated masses. Perhaps that "smart" phone in your hand could tell you, if you knew how to download the local transit app. If not, you're free to stick it straight up your ass. Maybe if you could read you would have seen the requested info from the schedule posted at the stop you're standing next to.

"You can't tell me what to do! If I wanna drink booze on your bus, it's my business!" No, Einstein, it's my job to roll as the common sense and/or whichever governments dictate. Alcohol, tobacco, heroin, marijuana and any number of other intoxicants are not to be used on our vehicles. Plus, your behavior while on them is seriously affecting the cool flow of my ride. Get off my bus.

Oh wait, management doesn't back me up. This is my ride as long as I'm logged in, so get off anyway. You don't want to? Okay, I'll call for police backup and you can stew the night in lockup. Get it? I don't fuck around with fuck ups, management be damned. They don't know how to do my job so they have little understanding in how I conduct business on the road. Perhaps they believe so, but I'm the one charged with the safety of all on my bus, and you're seriously affecting the smoothness of my roll. If I'm pissed off because of your childish behavior, nobody else is safe. (Something our management fails to understand in its quest to please everyone but those who make transit wheels roll.) Try walking, where you can be your own boss. Good luck not getting run over by some phone-stoned dumbass driving their lethal weapon. In here, I'm the man, and I seriously adhere to transit code and am entirely focused on giving you a safe ride. Once you have boarded, you have agreed to abide by the rules set forth by Almighty Transit. Don't like it? There's a nice rain storm awaiting you outside.


"This is my companion animal." Yeah, right. All pets are companions. So is my cat. I wouldn't bring Silas aboard a bus unless he was secured in a carrier. Why do you lie? If it's not a properly-trained "Service Animal," your mutt belongs at home. Quit lying to us. It's extremely obvious what you're doing. Why do you get away with it? Because our management wants to please you. If they had even the balls of an infant, they would require anyone who needs to ride with their pet to register and prove Fido is indeed a properly-trained service animal. But no, that might offend someone! It's a slap in the face for those who travel with bona fide, highly-trained professional service animals. And yes, I am allowed to ask you what service Fido is trained to provide you. Ever heard of the ADA? Bet you can't even define this acronym, but I've been trained. Please quit lying to us and leave your stupid mutt at home.

"Can I just ride at my own risk?" Sure, but the fare is still $2.50. It's the best deal in town. You want to risk going back to the jail you were just released from? Go right ahead and have a seat. I'll laugh when Fare Inspectors pull you off in handcuffs. And no, you can't have a "free" ticket. Oh, the cops at the jail said we'd give you one? I'm not aware of any such policy. Nothing is free, Bubba. Take all the chance you need, but when they catch you don't blame me. Everyone else on my bus paid their fare, why should I give you a ticket? Not gonna happen. That's considered to be theft of a public service, and I'm not a criminal. If I ever had been, I wouldn't be driving this bus.

"BACK DOOR!" Yeah it's unlocked and has been since this bus stopped. All you need to do is follow the simple instructions on the door to have it open. Magically. Place your grimy hands where instructed, instead of struggling only to have it slam back on you once you cross the threshold. Duh. You wouldn't do so well on "Smarter Than a Third Grader" would ya? Shall I secure the bus, get out of my seat and walk back there just to instruct you on these elementary procedures? Geesh, people. And you say I'm "just a bus driver." What does that make you?


* * * * *

We see the best and the worst of all humanity has to offer. We're often disrespected, ignored or abused physically and verbally. Expected to be robotic in the face of each inhumane insult hurled (or spat) our way, we're disciplined when we defend ourselves, as if we're not worthy of the simplest respect. It doesn't matter. We're still "shepherds of the public safety, sacrificing for the public good (thanks @Tom Horton)" who endure whatever society labels us. It's a job, but an honorable one.

My hat is off, my whisky glass raised, my bow offered to all who share my seat. It also is given freely to those who actually thank us for the safe ride we provide. It is for them I still am dedicated to this profession.












Sunday, June 23, 2019

Bright White and Blood Red

Deke's Note: As I watched this blog's stats grow unnaturally by 10,000 hits in the past month, I realized it was an anomaly. I should just write, as usual, what came to mind. This blog's life ebbs and flows just like our lives. It was nothing but a blip in the stats. It was truly gratifying indeed, but not anything but the strangeness of the modern web and the weird phenomenon of virtual private networks. Someone found this blip and shared it. Nothing more. All I knew was the whine of wheels and air brakes on the city streets. This is what happened in between the stops.

It was strange, pulling up to a four-way intersection to find every car at every direction in an intersection was... white. Was I in some 1940s propaganda film? NO. Each one of them was from 1998 or sooner. Surreal, it was. Toyota, Mercedes, Range Rover, Buick, Honda, GMC, Ford, all represented. It felt as if I was part of a Twilight Zone episode, my multi-colored but white-based bus the lone exception.

The USA is an amalgamation of all colors of the rainbow, and Portland especially fits that specific range of demographics. Was it a sign, this sudden and unexpected sight? It was rather unnerving to be a white guy in a sea of white. Not just every car at the first position in each direction, but every... fucking... car... beyond it. I even heard the old TV show host Rod Serling speaking as I sat there pondering the odds against such a spectacle.

Drive a bus long enough, and the sights you're treated to multiply as the years pass by. Usually, traffic rolling by is multi-colored. As I sat at this red light, I searched for faces in this sea of blinding white. They were black, brown, white, and other colors as well. It's actually rare to see many white vehicles up here in the Great Nor'west. Mostly they're blue, red or black. To see a sea of white was blinding in more ways than one, and a bit unnerving as well.

Had I, to that point in time, witnessed cars of one other color in all directions? Decidedly not. As one who drives a 10-hour shift every five days of his week, I see tens of thousands of other vehicles. Just one weird occurrence on my part, but noteworthy nonetheless. I think. I still don't know what to make of it, except that it was one of those strange things that happens when you drive for a living.

* * * * *

A few minutes early to a transit center, I looked forward to a stretch and a puff on my vape as I rolled in. After welcoming new passengers, I informed my folks we were a bit early and I was going to enjoy the evening air while I stretched my aches and pains. As I exited, I saw a man face-down on the sidewalk just behind my bus and ahead of my brother who was at a layover.

Examining him, I noticed a pool of blood had collected beneath the poor guy's head. He was unconscious, and my attempts to revive him failed. Noticing my brother in the seat in the bus behind my idling ride, I walked up to his door. We've known each other for years. He nodded at the prone figure ahead of his bus and told me he had hit "Priority Request to Talk" and was waiting upon a reply.

"I can't rouse the guy," I said. "He's bleeding from his head and unconscious."

"Didn't see what happened to him," my buddy replied. "I've already sent a message and will request they send medical."

I knelt down for a close visual, and the man was breathing, but clearly unconscious. The blood continued dripping into the pool under his quivering lips.

"Hey buddy," I said, gently rubbing his shoulder, "help is on the way. I know you're not okay, but I'm here." No response.

Nobody else around, except me and the unconscious one. He didn't flinch or give any indication he heard me. That was worrisome. Then, I noticed two people standing nearby. I asked them to come in closer. One of them knelt down and spoke softly into the wounded man's ear, rubbing his shoulder simultaneously. This brought him about a bit. He looked up, but the man soothed him.

"It's okay," he said softly, "we're here to help you. Can you hear me? Don't try to get up, you're injured."

He looked up at me, and I just nodded. "Help is on the way," I said.

The wounded man was confused, and rose his head to look into my eyes. One of his pupils was dilated.

"Don't get up," I told him, my own hand on his shoulder. "You've been hurt, and we want to keep you safe."

"That blood on the sidewalk is yours," the bystander said. He took the man's sweater and placed it under his head. "Just lie down and rest."

Instead, the man rose to a sitting position. Mr. Bystander held him steady.

"Help is on the way," I repeated, watching my brother on the radio with Dispatch. "Just sit here and you'll be okay. We got ya."

When my brother affirmed that rescue units were en route, I told him I would roll. The bystanders assured me they would stay with the wounded man until paramedics arrived. There was nothing more I could do, and my passengers had to be somewhere. These Sidewalk Angels assured me they would stay with him until help arrived, so I waved to my brother and boarded my bus to roll again.

This is life as a transit operator. We see things we'd rather not, but upon any disaster, we respond. Who could deny a fellow human assistance in their time of need? I certainly cannot, nor do my brothers and sisters. Your professional transit operator simply cannot ignore disasters.

My operator's hat is tipped to the two bystanders who stepped in to assist someone in need, and remained with him until help arrived. I also applaud my fellow operator who willingly forsake his precious break time to help a fellow man in need of desperate attention.

"Go ahead and roll, I'll write the report," he said. An extra 45 minutes of time for him, but a shortened break on the other side of the line.


"Shepherds of the public safety," our brother the Rampant Lion often says, "sacrificing for the common good."

I hope he's okay, the poor fellow. His blood stain remained red as I passed through next time. Had he been knocked over the head and mugged? Did he trip and fall, hitting his head on his way down? He was too dazed to explain. All I could do was shake my head and hope. I thought of him, and prayed for his ultimate health, the rest of my shift.

That's enough for one week. I'm tired, and the sun is rising. Heading to bed, looking forward to a late-afternoon massage and the company of my beloved. Meanwhile, stay safe, ya mugs.



Monday, June 17, 2019

Why I Still Drive a Bus


Deke's Note: Yes, I'm angry. I admit it and am actively working to deal with this passing emotion. When I began writing this blog, I promised to document my life on six wheels. It's an honest admission, one which many refuse to admit feeling. This is an emotion I embrace, for if I did not, my life would be a fiery hell not worth living. It's just another speed bump in the life of a bus driver. Don't like it? Well what happens when I roll safely past? Will you not read again simply because I admit my anger? Are you afraid of the same emotion I describe? Stay tuned... your Deke is constantly evolving... as a bus operator AND as a human being.

When the route you drive is the last one to anywhere, especially to one of many light rail termini, the trip is usually a combination of all you have driven all day up to that point. Like Forrest Gump would say, "You never know what you gonna get."

Perhaps one of the few high points of this career is providing transport to those who are decent, hard-working blue collar workers. They ride the bus for collectively numerous reasons, the main one being it's a cost-effective means of transportation. Many have eschewed private for public transport. Rent is prohibitively-expensive in Portland, and owning a vehicle is an expense many simply cannot afford. Gas, maintenance, insurance... it can mean the difference between a decent pad or a grassy knoll in any assassin's lair. A great majority of our blue-collar populace depend upon our transit system to transport them safely from home to workplace, then back again. That's all we are... a service. If it's a smooth roll, all the better. Anyone who throws a wrench into our duals is met with righteous annoyance, simple amusement, or outright fury. The one malfeasant in a thousand who causes trouble is likely to experience it a thousand-fold if he/she interferes with the daily transport of those who actually pay for their ride.

The best part of my job is the connection I make with those who ride daily. They are sturdy people who work hard every day, scarcely-absent from the jobs which make our city. Whenever you marvel about the precision with which any metropolis works, think of those who toil for actual pennies a day (in comparison to what Big Money rolls in from our collective efforts), and those are the faces who ride my bus. They were raised by parents who also worked struggled every day of their working lives to pay the bills which only grew, while their salaries lagged behind. These people are the backbone of every economy the past 150 years. Our worries increase much more rapidly than what we are paid for our efforts, and the rewards dwindle with every generation. Still, we rise every day to meet the struggle of our working family. Gay, straight, whatever, we get up and trudge to the same torture each day for less and less. Our dreams fade with every sunset, our retirements become the  nightmares of what should be revitalizing rest. The Stairway to Heaven we envision as a reward for our toils becomes a Highway to Hell as we realize our efforts will not pay much of a reward when all is said and done.

People have said my writing is "angry." Yeah, you're absolutely correct. I'm pissed off as much as any other middle-class American could be. You vote for the wrong party when it makes nonsensical promises while raising your taxes, robbing your retirement for an already-mighty military, and denigrating those of us who have already made this country the most awesome land in the world. Both political parties have their faults, yet I hold my nose on Election Day and choose who I think is the lesser of evils.

Those politicians who use religion to bolster their position are false prophets, and are usually untrustworthy. If Jesus Christ Himself came back today, he would likely sleep with those under the Burnside Bridge than those who own riverfront condos and give freely to TV evangelists to fly worldwide on congregational-paid private jets. He would pull poisoned fish from the Willamette River for the obscenely-rich, while saving the wild salmon for those who suffer mental illness and have no roof over their heads.

That's why I don't like organized religion. If you're truly a "holy" being, you already know what's righteous. Your life reflects a time-honored decency and you don't need some preacher to explain. The problem with society these days is that it is too easily conned. There is very little independent thought, little respect for historical intelligence, and too much collective hatred for "others." We fear what we do not understand, therefore we push aside common sense and adhere to what we're told to think. Once we come together and have honest discussions, most people find that we have more in common than we previously believed.

I don't care who you love, it's not my concern. All I want is for us all to treat each other with the same respect you want your neighbor to do for you. If we all work hard, it should collectively count for something. When all we do is work with little reward at the final quarter of our lives, something is seriously amiss. If a group of people march or protest in honor of what they believe, only to be met by those who simply oppose what they feel is "wrong" because of what religion or popular belief dictates, therein lies a horrible disconnect in human harmony.

When you pee in a public restroom, do you look at the person next to you? Usually not. If you do, what does that say about you? It's an intensely-personal thing to urinate. Normal people tend to ignore those around us in a restroom. If you're actively searching for someone "different" in this moment, what does that say about you? I don't care if the person next to me is of the same sex, religion, race, creed, or sexual identity as me. All that matters is that I void the pressure in my bladder. If any words are exchanged with those on either side of me, they are banal or quickly forgotten. It does not matter what we say. We likely will never see each other again.

As I started writing this paragraph, one of my favorite tunes began to play. My father was The Leader of the Band. Dad taught me that everyone is unique, deserving of the same respect he commanded. He was of an era which endured a Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War and the dawning of the Nuclear and Age of Aquarius. As long as people are honorable and honest, he didn't care who they slept with. It's none of our business. If they defend his beloved country from aggressors and uphold their promise to defend the Constitution of the United States, they are free to have sex with whoever they damn well want. I happen to agree with Dad, wholeheartedly and without shame.

When somebody boards my bus, I smile at them. They are human, deserving of my initial respect and courtesy. They pay for their ride, or not. I don't care either way. I used to care about fare, but as my brothers and sisters became punching bags, it no longer mattered. It's not worth becoming a statistic, especially when Fare Inspectors will eventually weed out the fare evaders. My job is to safely drive a bus from Point A to B. It's only important that I comport myself with courtesy, pride and honor, and that I provide the safest possible roll. That's all. My beliefs are not important. There is no reason for me to judge someone, unless they become a danger to others. As long as my passengers abide by transit code and basic decency, all I have to do is roll six wheels. I've come to accept that I have no authority except that which resides in my soul. To impose this personal moral code upon my passengers is to invite the fury of our watered-down management. They want to please the public even if it means I'm beaten bloody or even killed. They'll protect you over me. Every... damn... time. If you kill me, they will search for something I did to provoke you.

If you insult me, fine. Just keep it on the down low, and we're okay. I'm big enough to realize you need to hurt people to feel good. You'll leave my bus within 20 minutes on average, and your insults will eventually be forgotten. Goodbye Dipshit, and don't let the door hit your nasty ass upon exiting. Fuck off and good luck with your sorry ass once off my safe ride. Bye bye. No biggie, you're insignificant in comparison to the decent folks still on board.

Once I roll into my final stop, whether it be on Track 25 or 95, I have successfully provided my city an invaluable service. After 125+ daily miles of safe travels, each insult has rolled off my shoulder. I will head home to a loving wife and family. And that, my friends, makes it all worthwhile. If you had half of the love I feel when I arrive safely at home, then you're twice as lucky.

Thanks for riding, and for having my back. I'll be back tomorrow, if you're ready to ride.




Friday, June 14, 2019

Dear VPN Readers:



Perusing my blog's stats this week, I found a massive surge in hits due to the phenomenon known as the Virtual Private Network (VPN). While I was once very tech-savvy, I've been out of the biz for a decade now, and I'm a bit confused.

FTDS is read around the world, which is very gratifying. But now I see VPN's account for the largest amount of hits, even more than the good ol' USA, Canada and others which recently made up my biggest audience. I know enough to realize people anywhere are bouncing off of servers all over the place, making their origin impossible to track. As an artist, this is both mystifying and gratifying. While these readers are very welcome, I don't know where you are. Are you actually reading my blog, or is there some sort of payback you receive from bouncing off my blog? Confess, you anonymous hitters, I'm curious!

I've seen my hits bounce up drastically from 50-200 on a non-posting "quiet" day to 500-1000. The artist in me wants to think my words are having an impact on a larger audience, while the realist in me wonders what's really happening here.

Can anyone explain this to me? If you don't want to comment publicly on this blog, please email me (yes, I know that's an ancient form of communication, but hey... I'm grey matter now) at deaconinblue@gmail.com.

Either way, thanks for reading. If you've read anything here at all, you know I'm white noise on the internet when it comes to transit. I try to keep you informed of one thing: what I'm thinking as I drive a bus for a metropolitan transit agency. That's why I'm here, period. If you think I'm doing okay, enjoy my self-therapy, or even wish I'd branch out (which I'm working on), please let me know. Artists need feedback to grow, positive or critical. I'm a big boy... and I can take it.

What say you, Virtual Readers?!? Don't be shy.

Respectfully and with gratitude, I am
Deke N. Blue
FromTheDriverSide

Badge 0202

Deke's Note: As promised, I've invited a few of our brothers and sisters to write guest posts on FromTheDriverSide during my hiatus. The first response was from Badge 0202, and after a few weeks working with this operator, I'm very impressed with his initial foray into bloggery.



Attack on

the Jerry Springer Express


by Badge 0202




THE ASSAULTS 

They've come home...

A few weeks back I was threatened with physical harm over a simple misunderstanding. I have had my hat knocked off my head while driving, been screamed at directly into my ear, called every racist name in the book and then some, and told I would be killed numerous times. What happens? The people are off at the next stop and you're in the wrong and left to pick up the shattered pieces. 

Recently a training classmate and dear friend was sexually assaulted. She was running a rough route late at night. Her assailant had been kicked off a bus previously by a Road Supervisor. As he was leaving the bus he ran his hands along her inner thigh. Where the whole story gets messy is here. This rider had been kicked off the bus, just two buses ahead for whatever reason. There was no heads up about this guy. No message over the CAD. Just silence. Our sister had no warning a possible assailant awaited her bus. It makes for a dangerous situation and an environment ripe for these type of assaults to happen.

Management will throw us under the bus any chance they can, they got a whole fleet of them too. Just wait your turn, it'll come. This agency has the local media on lockdown. This transit agency is deathly afraid of bad publicity. Management's No-Fare-Free-Ride policy, coupled with Oregon having the least mental health services in the country for two straight years, is putting its public service workers in great danger.

Two people were killed and one grievously injured two years ago on the MAX. A working Joe asks a few kids to turn down their music on the MAX. What do they do? They beat the hell out of him and break his jaw in front of his family.



THE UNION

Our union should be our greatest defender, and the public's as well! They're here to stand up to TriMet, to be our voice. We're left wondering: where are our leaders? It feels like their only interest is themselves.

I became a shop steward because I want to help my fellow brothers and sisters, and to be a strong voice on their behalf. I love helping my fellow operators. The Top Three Executive Board members need to go. They don't stand up for us. They continually dictate policy on bloated ridership numbers.

I'm tired of us being punching bags. I'm sick of my brothers and sisters being put in dangerous and hostile situations. I'm not afraid of authority. Actually, I despise it! You know that saying: "You gotta respect authority." B.S. Authority needs to earn my respect.



Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Music in the Key of Deke




Deke's Note: In my quest for peace and calm in this screaming soul, I usually turn to music. This post is a wander through the musical woods of my life, past and present. Wherever you see a link, click on it and take a waltz through one of my favorite tunes. It's just a good time for this post. I've hit the crossroads, and I'm changing directions. Mama always used to say: "If you have nothing nice to say, best not say anything at all." Hopefully, this will be a nice departure for us both.

As a newbie on this job, there were many new "Beginnings." First job which required I wear a wristwatch, but Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? It could be anywhere between 25 or 6 to 4, but during a Harvest Moon who cares? When I was the New Kid in Town, there was so much to learn, and write about in here. Now, I struggle within the Sound of Silence.

Someday I hope to shed this Deke pen name altogether, to stand up and shout I Am, I Said, even if... to no one there. If and when this happens, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? Management might not enjoy this blog, but when folks read and comment, You Make Me Feel Brand New. I guess it will be time to "come out" One of These Nights. Doing this, however, might start a Wildfire, so I'll have to make sure I'm not Out In the Country.

Lately as I drive during rush hour, I softly sing Traffic Jam to myself. I would use the PA, but I hate tomato on my uniform. It's all I can do just to get to the End of the Line to enjoy a short break. We deal with so many who complain about our ride, or expect special favors for $2.50. I tell them they're free to take a Taxi, and then I would have One Less Bell to Answer. When they get uppity and rude, I don't put up with their bullshit. You'll never see the Tracks of My Tears, especially in the Summertime, when I kick you off. Walking is good for the temper. Of course to do something like that takes True Grit, because I would rather Shower the People who ride my bus with kindness. I'd rather they stay and have an intelligent conversation. In today's world of strife and violence, it's I prefer to preach like the Reverend Green, when he implores us: Let's Stay Together.

And When I Die, truly hope there is a Stairway to Heaven, because my heart is in the right place. That's The Way I Always Heard It Should Be, but I must hold on to my faith.

When it's Late in the Evening, how I wish there were Someone to Watch Over Me, as that would ultimately be Gentle On My Mind. Usually, my solitude is shattered by someone Killing Me Softly as they sing a horrible rendition of the classic Rubberband Man. I'd rather the Doobies get on board and serenade me with Southside Midnight Lady. Or if Dad could come back, I could thank my Leader of the Band for his masterful teachings and guidance. Maybe he'd bring Satchmo down with him and remind me What a Wonderful World this once was... I miss him too.

Your Deke was a wee lad when he first heard The Unicorn Song, singing along in his child soprano voice. When our family moved to Arizona, my mind wondered what would happen By the Time I Get to Phoenix. A few weeks later I found a wonderful TV show for kids there, and happily whistled along to the Wallace and Ladmo Theme Song every day after school.

As I grew into a man, I was often Head Over Heels in love with some cute girl, especially one with Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes. Maybe her name was Suzanne, or even Judy Blue Eyes, but then Jesse broke my heart. There was surely a Melissa who ranked high, but then my Bear came along and we danced on a Sea Cruise. Later, I commiserated over past loves with my buddy Josh, and we sang Pancho and Lefty together as the whisky flowed over our heads.

Nowadays, I'm often one to Listen to the City as I wonder if my writing career will mirror that of the poor bastard Mr. Tanner. It's always possible I could become a Wichita Lineman, but it's more likely my beloved will whisper You Can Close Your Eyes as I enter into my final rest.

Thanks for hanging around so long. Hope you enjoyed my musical roll.

With love and appreciation,
Deke N. Blue


Sunday, June 2, 2019

My "Non-Post" Entry for Today

My office, caged in and treated with less respect
than a zoo animal. But I do the job with an honor
instilled upon me by the legions of those much better
at it than I could ever hope to be.
It's very hard for me NOT to write a post when I normally would. Just hang in there. I'm working on improving not only my personal self, but my writing personality as well. It's been six years since I first hopped onto this bloggery, and hopefully you've taken a ride with this bus driver explaining how it feels to drive "in the seat."

You may not agree with my writing, but that's okay. I've made mistakes along the way, but only because my opinion cannot always mesh with yours. I won't apologize for this. It's just one bus driver talking to others or our passengers, perhaps even the occasional visitor who is neither. Either way, I'm here. That's all I know, whether I entertain, or simply piss you off. I'm just here, man.

Six years and almost 300,000 hits is a pretty incredible run. I'm still employed by the transit agency I often emotionally abuse when their antics require criticism. If I fail to describe my time as a bus operator for whatever moment in time as I feel necessary, it's only because there's not much to say.

Just like this post...

Our Summer Signup begins today. I wish all the best for those of us who brave the violence "out there" while providing our fellow citizens with a safe and smooth ride for virtual pennies every hour they ride.

May was an extremely-sad month for all of us. We, as a worldwide family, lost two operators (that I'm aware of) to senseless murder. Frankly, it sent me into a downward tailspin that has required me to seek counseling. I'm depressed, scared and angry. It's not a good place to be in this occupation. I only want to provide a safe and friendly ride to my passengers. When I feel like this, it does none of us any good. So please bear with me. I readily admit when I need help, and have reached out for counseling. I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and will actively seek professional help to help me better cope with this difficult time in my personal and professional life.

My posts may be sporadic, sometimes lengthy tirades, but still... I write for all of you. Why? Because through all the strife and turmoil, I will always love you. It's all I have, this tremendous feeling of comaraderie and fellowship we share as transit operators. It ranks a close second to the constant love and support from my incredible wife, children, brothers and sisters in blood as well as those in solidarity. If I don't keep in touch with my soul, it could easily be lost. If that were to happen, I would be but a soon-forgotten statistic to my employer, but an enormous hole in this beloved family we have collectively created.

Peace and safe travels be with you all your days, and for those who love you,
Deke N. Blue

Sadness BusBits

Deke's Note: After the fright, stress and flashbacks of the violent incident on my bus just over a week ago, I have ached to reach back ...