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!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Another Tragic Transit Management Disaster

Historic transit view replaced by "progress".

Deke's Note: My brother operator told me this week "drivers at 7-12 years tend to be bitter, angry." He did not elaborate as to why. 

I have avoided publishing this for two weeks. Yeah, I'm still creating the Mother of All Blog Series. The past month has been one of depression. Every ounce of energy is devoted to the job, which saps the dwindling reserves within. By the time a week of shifts is done, my mind/body/soul is depleted. I fell asleep working on my new book after 600 miles in the seat a week ago.

Daniel called me a few weeks ago with his horrific news. His story deflated the last ounce of hope I had for our fellows being truly "respected" in the work we do. Management is wildly out of control, with no true oversight.

And so it goes... 

* * * * *

Daniel is the epitome of a legendary blue-collar bus operator. His extensive background in the entertainment industry, coupled with a masterful comic's mind, makes him a snug fit in Portland's "Keep It Weird" personality. With considerably more commendations than complaints, he has safely guided thousands of his fellow citizens to their destinations for over eight years.

Today, he is out of a job. Why? Because he dared take less time than required to recover from double-shoulder replacement surgery. Although he returned to the job a month earlier than expected, he apparently missed too much time recuperating from a surgery which has added another decade or more to his being a "true" hero to his beloved community. Now he must scramble to find another job in one of the most horrific times to be unemployed as a devoted American taxpayer. 

Strong in his allegiance to all we hold dear, determined to do his best, his employer of eight years simply... discarded him into the millions of today's unemployed masses. In the worst possible economic conditions.

Without respect to his dedicated service through disastrous weather conditions, braving the unmasked throughout a worldwide pandemic, choking through the dense smoke of Fire Season 2020, suffering hundreds of humiliations daily he smiled throughout with classy humor. 

It wasn't enough. He simply missed too much work. It's disgusting. 

This is one of many seemingly irreparable rifts between "them who has'na nevah" and those "who bravely grip the wheel all day long for decades". We should not have to fear being fired for simply missing work while recuperating from surgery. This is a pattern that has shamefully become normal. This is a profession which sucks the lifeblood out of those who catch shit from every direction we turn the wheel, only to be disciplined or outright fired for simply taking care of ourselves. Thrown under the very bus or light rail vehicle we operate. By those entrusted with our safety and the well being of all who ride.

Disgraceful. Degrading. Disgusting, his treatment by a transit agency which says "hero" out one side of its mouth while spitting "fired" out of ITS other.

"IT" doesn't care about me, or you either, fellow operator. IT only cares about its bottom line, which has gravely suffered during this unprecedented pandemic, through which its operators have safely guided transit's beloved "customers" to their destination. All the while, we begged a deaf upper management to enforce transit code, which simply asks riders to "respect the ride". "Leadership" refuses to allow an operator any authority, and disciplines any who dare to exercise what was once a given. Even when Standard Operating Procedures are on our side. It's a ludicrous, impossible working environment, yet we endure. Out of respect for the job, and thousands who rolled wheels long before we were born.

Instead of preserving the dignity of those who safely roll The Beast amidst Portland's undisciplined motorists, it chooses instead to discard those who dare use too much sick leave while recuperating from life's most harrowing moments.

Even though it is now a federal crime to ride a transit vehicle of ANY type without wearing a mask, we banter about who will be suspended first for enforcing a federal mandate. It's a sick, but prevalent attitude, amongst my workmates. We have fallen to such despair as to expect the worst treatment offered over decades of calamitous disrespect.

It's painfully obvious our current management's main goal is to flush out the most professional, dedicated transit operators, many who have given their entire working lives to this honorable profession. Many are too close to that coveted retirement date, therefore registering as targets of harassment when they should be highly honored for their service. Celebrated, given a true "hero's" easy roll into a well-deserved retirement. With benefits promised, earned through service of such intense humanity the greater public is not informed of by the demise of an interested media.

It makes fiscal sense to fire those closest to retirement age. We are expensive in the long run, having sacrificed our bodies to incompetently-designed operator seats. Many of us have endured a lifetime of hard work prior to transit, where our age and experience have been thrown out with the evening trash. We find this final career to offer our retirement some semblance of reward and comfort, only to find death lurking shortly after celebrating an honorable departure. We are evidently to blame for decades of managerial mis-management of pension funds while we languished under an agreement keeping our raises minimal in hopes of management honoring its promises. Ha! What suckers we are.  

Still, crickets from the local media: passive co-conspirators to a massive fraud against those who are an integral lug nut in the wheel comprising Portland's economy. If one reporter had the balls to stand in defiance of Corporata's death-grip on transit, to write a true history of the transit worker's decline over the past few decades, I might fall over from shock. I'm still standing.

* * * * *

Of a few funerals for brothers and sisters, how many in management have you seen in attendance? Last year, our Sister Freddi Evans passed and only ONE did I see. Mary drove a bus several years prior to opting out of union service. She had a history with Freddi, and so honored her with a moving eulogy. Where was our GM? ANY of the "Bored of Directors"? Safely ensconced in their ivory towers, blissfully disconnected from our beloved sister. Freddi left behind her children and devoted Operator husband and fiercely-devoted fellow operator advocate, Henry Beasley. I still wear Freddi's Flower on my fedora. It's the least I can do to honor our beloved, departed sister. I doubt more than a few upper management skulls even remember her. WE do.

* * * * *

One of my generation, Daniel learned that work is essential to the ever-challenging climb up the financial ladder. His steady, union-fought paycheck allowed him to buy a house. Given a freshly-minted set of replaced shoulders, he should have another 10-15 years or more of publicly-celebrated service behind the wheel. However, today's "suspend or fire FIRST" brand of transit management, he was discarded because he missed too much work. This evening, he worried aloud to me that he hoped his meager savings allowed him to pay his mortgage the next two months. He has been supporting a family member through dark times. Tomorrow, he may lose it all. Just because he chose self-care over pain. 

Why? Because of a seemingly vindictive, cruel and out-of-touch management. Gee thanks Daniel, but your heavyweight-supporting shoulders cost you your job. Too bad your job was too much a burden for them to support. Buh-bye now. 

Damn him! How dare he take advantage of medical benefits to fix a physical ailment accentuated by thousands of hours in a poorly-designed bus operator seat. Of all the nerve to miss work while recuperating! Instead, Daniel should have evidently been unsafely slaving away through his pain for a management that couldn't be bothered to even send him a GET WELL card while recuperating. Instead, it savagely counted the hours of his medical leave as "missed time" and fired him when he came back to work. Early. After being duly cleared for service by a Trainer.

Daniel still suffers pain and endures hours of physical therapy and conditioning exercises to ensure his new joints acclimate to his body. He's in better shape now than he was than before the surgery. Now, he will lose his medical insurance and the security of an honorable profession he so dedicated most of the past decade to. Discarded to the dung heap that is Corporata's workplace uncertainty, Daniel is understandably frightened and worried for his future. So much for being called "hero".

This is one of many ghoulish acts suffered upon our agency's frontline workers. Hero, my ass. You just FIRED one. Stop punishing us for nature's gravitational pull upon our aging joints!

NOW do you see why I want to be General Manager? It's time to STOP disrespecting those who give their lives to an honorable profession, and START an era in which Portland Transit truly honors those who make our transit vehicles SAFELY roll folks to their destinations. Celebrating those who have always provided service with a light-hearted chuckle, while insisting the societal norms of decency and respect be followed.

Am I "angry and bitter"? For Daniel's termination, and for all of us insulted by callously-disrespectful and cruel middle managers with an axe to grind against those with whom they could never equal? HELL yes. His termination is a slap in the face to all of us who have endured the past year of insulting treatment by those who have NO reciprocal oversight.

"Heroes" slip-sliding into yet another Silver Thaw.

Until decency in transit prevails once again, there is no hope for those who diligently provide safe rides on bus or rail while its management works against US. We are mere pawns to a callous and unnecessarily discipline-first-regardless-of-common-sense-and-decency upper management. THEY need to go; we have proven our worth through millions of safe miles.

Give me the GM job. I would fire every disrespectful one of 'em. If they fire ME, this post will probably be the culprit. They hate being called on the carpet, highly discourage whistleblowing to the tiniest Tweet. They have no visible self-discipline. Although we outnumber management 4-1, I join the few who dare color red the blood my fellow brothers and sisters shed to management's gory delight.

Over 200 attacks on transit workers in 2020 here in Portland. Did you hear any media coverage on THAT? No. Only the relentless attacks upon our downtown business district merit journalistic attention, rendered dead by an unrestrained angry nighttime crowd which destroyed everything in its path. Our downtown is now a third-world war zone marked by shuttered businesses and boarded-up storefronts. Through it all, our buses and light rail vehicles roll, operators' heads high as always, working as only we have ever known: proudly.

Daniel's termination is how they reward our efforts. Good grief, people. You're welcome

* * * * *

We once were, as I'm told, truly a family. Brothers and sisters watched out for each other. Management had enough sense to filter false complaints before they even reached frontline workers. Maintenance personnel benefited from a highly-vaunted Maintenance Apprenticeship Program which rewarded service workers' dedication with the promise of on-the-job training leading to a step up in their career. New operators came into a profession with deep respect for those who had walked in their shoes, and understood the traditional "wave" of concern for their fellows. Today, self-puffed non-union punks call in unsubstantiated and untrue complaints on operators without having to identify themselves, without fear of recrimination for their misdeeds when invariably proven false.

Corporata has driven a worldwide-leading transit agency into the muck of disrepair and disrespect. It has failed in its mission to "improve" and still, the same "qualifications" for the top job remain. It's a classic definition of insanity, defined by some learned source: "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results". We're tired of this governmental insanity, and desperately require a reversal.

A new brand of GM is in order, one who truly understands transit from its most-basic roots, having rolled wheels with boots showing wear on their heels from constant pivot from brake to accelerator, the opposite similarly worn from activating turn signals rarely used by private motorists. Years of service as operators keep the public safe from their own mistakes. A seasoned operator has learned to predict dangerous behaviors and avoid serving motorists their brains upon their own bloodstained windshields. This professionalism however, seems unimportant to anyone but US. We save thousands of lives every day; collisions with our vehicles claim a tiny proportion of the mistakes motorists make in our presence. Sadly, our professional driving is forgotten when injury or death happens in the path of our vehicles, the inference insistent that we injured or killed the victim. The professional is maligned, the motorist rarely noted for their own recklessness.

We are sane, given the insanity thrust upon us every hour in service. We are smart, coming from vast and varied professional backgrounds. We are imminently qualified to replace those whose collective incompetence has ground our civic valor into dust.

Yesterday's trash:
the abandoned transit operator
As I've written before, transit would still roll smoothly and on time without management. They could not do our job. Until, and unless, it is replaced with those to whom transit is second nature, our wonderful system will continue its decline toward systematic failure. To simply do what WE always have is all any transit agency truly needs to roll safely through the next century.

Daniel hopes to serve once again. We pray for his reinstatement after such unfair and foolish disrespect. All he wants to do is serve; all THEY want to do is reign terror down upon an already-disheartened fellowship.

Roll safely, brothers and sisters. THEY may not have your back, but I do. So do countless thousands of current and former frontline transit workers across the world. If only WE could UNITE, remove management's lethal noose around our collective neck, we would truly shine once again. Until then, just bend over. They're not done fucking us; contract talks are at a standstill due to their unforgivable list of takeaways. And so it goes...

"Heroes", our collectively-abused and insulted ass.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Transit Management Grow UP!

Deke's Note: WTF? A brother operator told me management is considering suspending him for uncovering his face to take a drink. One YEAR ago. Before masks became mandatory. Whilst sipping a sip attempting to save his own life by not contracting a virus few even knew about then. Just bend over, buddy. You're screwed under this psycho regime.

This cycle of abuse MUST stop. We have been on the front line of this pandemic since long before it slithered onto our shores. Throughout, we have been subjected to a public scrutiny more intense than any other public servants. One slip over the nose and mouth, even to take a drink at a traffic signal, and some ne'er do well with a fragile chip needing shattered will call in a complaint. To insult a front line worker by even allowing such a whiny bitchfest to reach our mail is far beyond reprehensible. 

Give ME the GM job, and MOST complaints would stop at the source. We have enough problems just keeping our vehicles safe from the largely un-policed hordes of horrid motorists. To allow the least to make life more difficult by pouncing on every supposed gaffe the ignorants believe foul, management further strengthens its incompetent malfeasance those whose sole purpose should be to support US. Above capital projects, above selfish self promotion, above its seeming nightmarish fantasy to gloriously abuse us. 

Management has devolved into some sadomasochistic scheme to drive its frontline workers to the heights of despair. Once there, we expect the knife to pierce our already-worried souls. While it is more apt to come from some crazed passenger, we shouldn't expect our "support" staff to wield this deadly weapon. You are slowly, methodically and efficiently killing us. Too many die of stress-related illness during this career or soon after leaving it.

Just STOP, would ya? Re-evaluate your priorities. Find the goodness in your souls, whatever remains there. We are not "dirty", as the Laird of HR decrees. We work no matter what pains us, smile through the insults and ignorance your indifference allows.

Few of you worry leaving your loved ones as you work. Not only that fear travels with us to work, but we also agonize whether we will bring COVID home to those who eagerly await our safe return. You can quarantine; we cannot. During the worst of it all, you had the luxury of "hiding/working" (our GM actually had the cajones to state non-union workers "hid" while performing their duties) from home. Another of many heart-piercing insults management has thrust into our collective hearts this past year.

Additionally, you send the worst negotiator in human history to do your dastardly deeds. You disrespect us by leaving a painful list of takeaways on the table during contract negotiations while allowing petty mid-managers to wreak havoc upon our very souls. You're miserable at your jobs, but I'm on time 94% and my passengers enjoy my friendly and safe ride. What have you to show for your lack of effort? Not a damn bit, losers.

WE have faced this pandemic head-on, balls and breasts to the wheel, every time a passenger boards our bus. There has been no way to realistically "social distance" ourselves from this pandemic, no matter what toothless SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) you change at a whim, all to benefit the least of those who ride our vehicles. If someone refuses to wear a mask, coming maskless within inches of our personal space/infection zone, we have simply been instructed to enter a "Mask Refusal" code into our console. Just Drive, dumbasses. Unskilled labor. Dirty people. No biggie to you: safe at home while monitoring each supposed crime we commit doing what you're too goddamn chickenshit to attempt. If you had the slightest ounce of respect for US, you would erase your outrageous proposals and accept our union's original offer, a true bargain for the incredible gems who toil amidst any and every disaster the rest of the world deigns to "hide" from. Hey, you have no more "capital projects" to afford. How about investing in those who do the work you're "over-qualified" to perform?

Did you realize nearly 150 New York operators DIED from COVID?!? How about the hundreds of others whose loss we mourn daily on social media? Your past GM had never even heard of Thomas Dunn when you hired him. Smiley Doug hadn't even read the State Audit of our transit system when the "Bored" decided his numerous failures qualified him for the job.

Mr. Dunn was murdered while driving his route almost two years ago in Florida. His death scares the crap out of ALL of us. Does his death matter at ALL to you, or the fact that it could happen here in Portland? Given the alarming uptick of attacks upon us the past several years? No. You bowed to public pressure during the 2020 Summer of Discontent and decimated our transit police division. Gee, thanks for your support. Not only are we at risk, but chances are help is now even further away.

Yeah, I'm pissed at you. Again. For putting my fellow brothers and sisters through more pain and misery than usual, which was more than enough prior to this cruel plague. For finally deciding to clean filthy transit vehicles mid-shift, only forced to do so because of COVID. Before, buses were only "sanitized" four times a year. They were filthy germ-infested armpits of transit, documented long before you decided to "act" in a face-saving measure while posturing it as "protecting our front line". You had to do this to save face. Otherwise, you obviously would not have given one hairy shit. As it is, filters on our bus HVAC system are only replaced "every 6,000 miles", which translates into anywhere from 3-6 months given the vehicle's service levels. Putrid manner of "protecting" your front line, folks. You should be ashamed. I would fire most of you my first day as JCMP. This would save US a helluva lotta dough while immediately improving frontline morale.

It was altogether fitting I saw no management presence on March 18. "Transit Worker Appreciation Day" is a farce in Portland, and other locales across this blue marble in space. I'm relieved there were no false shows of support from our management on that day, at least on the night shift. Perhaps day operators saw some half-assed dog and pony show, but the 9-5ers are long gone whilst I brave the night. Not even a discarded carrot awaited my arrival at Center Garage. Fitting, indeed. I might have said something altogether insubordinate had I seen anything even attempting respect after exposing myself to another COVID-infested shift.

Given management's/Bored penchant for sending "Customer Service" reps to do its faux dirty work, I might have simply cursed and walked away. Maybe management should remain under quarantine, given its cowardly fear of exposure to what we constantly breathe 10+ hours every day.

Governor Brown should fire the entire "Bored" of Directors for its callous indifference to the plight of ATU757 workers, and promote me to the position of General Manager. With your Deke at the helm, life for my beloved brothers and sisters would immediately change for the best. 

We have an interim GM, hopefully a positive given the shameful exit of Canada's failure. Someone who has actually operated a bus. He's a hybrid management dude, so the blue jury remains wary. How long has it been since you drove a bus, Sam? It's funny how quickly they forget shedding the blue for a suit. Are you one of them, or must a fresh Blue replace you?

I'm tired of being disrespected. Just STOP. Please. You owe us at least that much.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

New GM An Edsel or Maserati?

Deke's Note: As we enter the final third of a human's expected life span, lessons learned reach tempest levels. I'm frustrated with management's third-grade mindset of "leadership". They pretend to know better, but we're most wise. We do the hard work of transit, they take credit for our efforts. At some point, the puppets must replace the puppeteers, or else we must burn. This is my final take on the future of Portland transit in its "search" for leadership. It's here. Within me. My final career is either a simple bus operator, or General Manager. I will not accept anything in between. Until there is a radical shift in direction, I cannot, will not, aspire any further. Get too close to a flame, and your very soul is only soot. With realistic expectations, I give you all that remains after yet another 10-hour shift behind the wheel of a city bus. My Friday leaves me physically and emotionally spent, like thousands of others who do the same across this beautiful blue marble floating within infinity. My love and respect for you is boundless, and I'm proud to be your brother.

In this post, I will summarize how I believe a transit General Manager should act, and add a few points. Still undecided whether I should apply for the position, I am capable of creating a positive work environment. Why? Because I actually do respect my fellow Operations brother and sisters. 

Those hired as GM in the past had all the "requisite qualifications". They failed miserably. This grew into an unhealthy distrust between management and the backbone of transit. There is also confusion by the riding public as to the standards by which they are expected to behave as passengers. Should they listen to the operator, or whine to Customer Service when they don't get their way? The current midset is to encourage the latter and discourage the former.

Instead of hiring another corporate bobblehead to lead a blue-collar workforce, consider bringing one of US in to mend the growing chasm of disrespect. The path ahead for transit must not, likely will not, resemble anything like the past. The pandemic has changed everything. Transit must evolve to responsibly grow ridership while protecting its front line. Both these arrows have wildly missed the bullseye the past decade.

Given the constant abuse of union workers, and mistaken priorities which shifted control of the agency to those who make the most trouble within it, the time has come for a drastic change of direction.

Here are a series of issues which need immediate resolution to begin healing the massive rift between US and the "leadership" of this transit agency.

  • Respect our union, and negotiate in honest good faith. Once again, management has failed to realistically negotiate a new contract. The lead negotiator once said "the only good employee is a scared one" disqualifies him. I would have fired him on the spot, but Vancouver's Failure/Portland's Spoiled Leftover GM gave wholehearted support of these insults. Abusive, unprofessional rhetoric rains down upon us like the mess shooting out of an ornery bull. Responsively, our International ATU leadership came to Portland to lend strength to our local's efforts to force management's "team" back to the table. It's like negotiating with a class of unruly middle schoolers who believe transit workers are "dirty"; their tactics resemble those of schoolyard bullies. One kid bullied me until I punched him in the face. 
  • Dismantle the Service Improvement Program (SIP). It's time to stop the outrageous discipline while failing to instruct passengers how to ride. It's simple: STOP trashing us. Continuing this horrid program highlights utter indifference and disrespect to transit's front line. It has become a tool by which decent, longtime professionals have been suspended or even had their livelihoods stripped away via foolish and nonsensical policies. The Board's failure to investigate and address SIP-related problems is unconscionable. Many complaints come from those who misbehave, misunderstand or believe themselves above the Passenger Code of Conduct. Wait, that must have gone out with the last bit of trash.
  • Grow a set. We are being attacked out there in growing numbers, yet you caved in to a minority of people intent on removing our first line of defense: Transit Police. Instead of decreasing it by 75%, your responsibility to US should come first. Our plight dictates it should be increased by 200% or more. Last year, we were attacked approximately 215 times by the public we serve, nearly double the amount of 2019. Officers who respond when we need protection during an attack are vital. It doesn't matter to any of us the race of someone who punches, spits on, slaps, menaces, threatens, or throws any number of objects at us. Cuts to this vital protective service shelter our attackers, leaving us even more vulnerable. What about OUR civil rights?
  • I would increase Fare Inspection,  while encouraging the poor and working class to apply for reduced-fare status. FREE transit is not a realistic option. Collecting fare is now considered an attack on a coddled few. Those who value transit pay fare. If a community is invested in transit, there is a shared responsibility and respect. 
  • STOP feeding the capital projects, and instead invest in the facilities we already have. Remodeling outdated garages is a positive. However, many operators have end-of-the-line facilities which border on disgusting. Honey Buckets are anything but. Front line workers deserve clean and well-appointed facilities instead of paying fast-food joints to use their often-filthy restrooms. We don't expect the Taj Mahal, but deserve better than dodging rats and nefarious individuals haunting our personal time.
  • Given the pandemic destruction of our downtown economy and the same throughout the Metro area, we face a new economic reality. Many small businesses have shuttered for good. We need to re-think transit's role as a post-pandemic economy takes shape. Where will the "new" jobs be? Can we expect new enterprise to emerge from COVID dust, or will the workforce shift to new economic horizons? Designing new transit byways will become necessary. A new mindset is necessary. Will the same old/new GM recognize this, or stubbornly insist on continuing backwards? 
  • Management has no oversight. It is not held accountable for its many misdeeds whether it sneaks in a million-dollar-plus raise or sharpens its swords against those who make transit work. I would hold myself accountable, along with the entire "leadership" structure. Stubbornly holding onto failed policies only spotlights the fool. Fixing these problems will not result in the pendulum swinging wildly to the opposite; it will guide it back to the center where progress happens.
  • Hold METRO responsible for its constant failure to provide positive leadership. Instead of holding transit responsible for its hollow promises and failed leadership, it is content with the status quo. Also, how a metropolis this size cannot keep winter conditions from paralyzing it is ridiculous. Hey Portland, buy some damn snowplows for cryin' out loud! It is unacceptable for a city to fail to respond to recurring weather events, even when ice coats our streets. Doesn't happen in Chicago, or Minneapolis, Boston, Detroit, New York... why can't we learn from our colder sister cities? Our government's lack of preparation, and its lackluster response, is embarrassing. Granted, this year's ice storm was unprecedented, causing our transit agency to cease operations for the first time in modern history. Transit earned a rare brownie point for removing time loss for those unable to make it in to work; thank you. We were all pleasantly surprised, given its harsh treatment of us lately. However, given the city's utter refusal to plow and treat many of its streets and causing horribly-dangerous conditions, perhaps transit should take the lead. Buy our own plows and do what the METRO consistently fails to: be the solution rather than the problem.
  • Make it fun to work here again. Celebrate the best in one another, work together to achieve realistic goals, and find avenues to reunite transit as a functioning family. Create programs to reward positive achievements. Welcome the union, rather than fight it. Realize we are one community serving an even larger one. Embrace one another, seek new solutions to old problems, excavate the enormous mine of possibilities buried within our midst and forge a partnership rather than a decades-old animosity.
  • Honor retirees by welcoming them back and honoring their service. They belong in the bullpen, offering advice and experience to all of us. Those with decades of experience are a resource which has been discarded. Give our honored veterans the chance to make us all better moving forward. Rather than watching our honored retirees sicken and die after devoting their productive years to our city, give them purpose and a reason to remain part of the family they helped create. My fondest memories as a bus operator are remembering the stories and advice of those who came before me.

Like Forrest Gump said when he grew weary of running, I'm tired. Exhausted. Having to constantly highlight the obvious failures of "leaders" taxes the simplest of minds. I would rather follow my brother blogger's (read Don Iler) example by writing about our interesting routes. However, I cannot allow our collective abuse to go unreported. To remain quiet would go against everything I believe.

The question has been put to me, snickered about by others, whether my "lack of experience" disqualifies me from becoming GM. No management experience, nor that of budgetary/fiscal/regulatory psychobabble. Abraham Lincoln had little formal schooling, yet rose to become perhaps the most effective leader of our country when it needed one most. While I could never boast equal greatness, I do believe dire circumstances require shredding the edicts of failure and adopting a radical approach. My singular strength is the ability to communicate on equal footing with people of all levels, and to respect those with whom I disagree. Great ideas come from the unexpected direction. My aspiration to the top post is singular: I desire to restore the eloquence Portland transit once commanded: simply listening, debating, and forging new agreements toward a common goal of respectful progress where it has not existed of late.

Ayup, I have slaved away as a blue-collar chimp these past 40 years. My only college education is some 100-plus credit hours sans a degree. I have earned a PhD in Blue Collar Reality. I only desire to do right by my fellows, to work together with those of diverse backgrounds to improve our lot. These past four decades have taught me one thing: either bend over or STAND and FIGHT. My backside hurts enough already, so it's time to BATTLE. For you and me, for those who labored before us, and for those who follow, do not settle for what others would discard. You all deserve the best leadership into our future fraught with the unknown, built upon a solid foundation from which we RISE.

We deserve a true partnership with management and its bobblehead board, rather than a dictatorship with rudderless oversight. It is honorable to work collectively toward progress. Righting a capsized ship requires many hands working in harmony. Eventually, these thousands of hands raise everyone up through mutual respect. Mouthing faux compliments whilst murmuring diabolically-nonsensical sidebars must be forever abolished. A true leader recognizes the strengths of those who toil in the trenches, and works tirelessly to champion their efforts. As GM, I would work tirelessly to uplift rather than allow any slight taint those who toil in service to our service area. Such devotion promotes those who have the vision necessary to not only fix a problem, but find solutions necessary to avoid repeat disasters. We deserve such leadership after an intolerable lack of such.

The Board promoted a former operator as the Interim GM while it "searches" for a suitably-qualified successor. We are hopeful. Undoubtedly, they will repeat former gaffes and plop another Corporata bobblehead into the top spot. Unless they surprise everybody by hiring a radically-different model, we will be subjected to another Edsel. I prefer the Maserati.

Zoom, Deke style. #Deke4GM

The Sun Sets

Patrick's Note: It has been nearly a week since Deke N. Blue passed from his bloggery life. It has taken that long to come to terms with...