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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!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Marty MethHead Charges Me


Deke's Note: One thing I have accepted is that life is too fleeting to believe I'll automatically make it home unscathed after a shift. It has taken several counseling sessions over the years to curb the anger which surfaces when someone with mental illness pushes my First Marriage Buttons. Being an abused husband was once sneer-worthy, and 35 years later I still grapple with painful flashbacks. Tonight, I scored a victory only in that I did as trained and calmly so. Still, that moment of fear that I wouldn't be able to hold back, showed its horrid face once more. 

I thought he would punch me. Or, shove the handful of masks he grabbed after storming to the front of the bus. He stood just outside my barrier, un-masked. His eyes were glazed over, high most likely. 

It was GO TIME. If his hand had made toward my face, my body's biological defenses would have taken over. I most likely would have punched the lad. HARD. Fight or flight does not give you an option. When you're trapped in an operator's seat, there IS no flight.

Luckily for me, his eyes showed no malice or intent to harm. He was crazed, confused, befuddled. I met his gaze calmly, and did not wince or cringe.

"Do you need a mask?" he asked.

Taking a deep breath, I replied quietly. "No." I pointed at my own mask, playfully pulling and allowing it to snap back in place. "But you do. Please put one on. And leave it there. Thank you."

Calm, authoritative, non-aggressive. Even though I was poised to defend myself, on full alert, my hackles were raised. I didn't know what to expect, hoping for the best but ready for the worst. 

This lad had boarded earlier in the afternoon, full of an addict's boasts that he was high. F-this and everything or everybody else, he was gonna quit! Everything at once. Heroin, crack, meth, booze, and even cigarettes. Anyone who has suffered an addiction know this is unlikely. He made an elderly lady nervous, but she still treated him kindly. As he exited, he kept bounding back aboard and asking me the locations of businesses I was unable to provide. He finally asked me where to buy smokes, and I pointed to the store directly in sight a block away.

Finally, he walked away from the bus and I could shut the door. Marty started walking toward the store then abruptly crossed the street in the opposite direction. The lady he had spoken to was going to exit, but wanted to put some distance between them so she opted for the next stop instead.

* * * * *

When he boarded again some seven hours later, the change in his demeanor was highlighted by agitation. Even though he politely declined to pay fare, by saying "Thank you Operator" as he boarded, he refused to grab a free mask. Several times, I had to ask him to wear one. To stop closing windows. To remain seated, not speak so loudly or profanely. Each time, he complied, only to forget what he had just done and reverse every action. It was plain he could not behave with any normalcy.

I alerted Dispatch after he stormed the front, because he had appeared aggressive. I didn't know if he would explode, but experience told me it was certainly possible. It became a challenge to maintain order on my ride so I could concentrate. I'm a stickler for providing a smooth ride, my stops even more so. That last run to the mall serves a wild mix of passengers. It's a constant game of outwitting nitwits while providing my patented brand of fun interaction and heartfelt goodwill.

When Marty MethHead exited, he charged up front, again. Marty had something in his hand and I tensed once more as I watched the passenger mirror. Gaining the entryway, he thrust a ragged and worn DVD case at me. "Here, this is me, for you."

I didn't want to touch it. His fifth mask of the night hung by a single earlobe, hands were grubby and the case was encased in what appeared to be years of grime. Recognizing it was a peace offering of sorts, I told him "Thank you, just please lay it there." I pointed at the farebox, since 50% of the passengers hadn't paid yet and I didn't expect any more that late in the trip.

After he left, and I safely cruised on, I was surprised at the calm that enveloped me. Our interaction had ended peacefully. My breathing was normal. I could see the few remaining passengers were relieved. So in my normal fashion, I keyed up the PA mic.

"And you too can be bus operators!" I exclaimed. Not a peep.

No cops, no injuries, no "what ifs" or Managerial Monday Morning QBs. This incident needed no reports or medical care. For either of us. There was a moment there where I was poised to vigorously defend myself. I'm happy it didn't come to that.

So it goes on the late night Dirty3. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank goodness that did not get any worse than it did!

    Happy New Year to you!!

    ReplyDelete

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