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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!

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

So-Called "Heroes" Roll On



Deke's Note: Never before have I so earned a vacation. When I finally set the brake in the yard ending that final shift, my sigh of relief was more pronounced than ever before. Why? Because this past year has been more challenging than anything any of US have ever experienced. The relief I felt was overwhelming. Still, I did my duty. Cleaned my operator area of any detritus left over 10 hours, closed all windows and overhead vents, and scouted for any items left behind. Upon exiting my rolling office, I tried to exalt in my joy of vacation, but it puttered out like a bus fart. Here's why.

"Heroes Work Here" greeted my last vacation in October of 2020. "Bullshit" was my constant and ready reply. That "h" word has been thrown around like a battered beach ball at the final hours of Spring Break, and it is ripped, torn and the color kicked right the fuck out of.

We approved a hard-won, yet still inadequate, labor contract after over a year of negotiations. Management played hardball even as we choked through smoky fear and a pandemic economy. We have yet to be rewarded by back pay, as management sits back and plods along as if WE don't matter. Hey folks, we suffered through numerous economic hardships supporting our families while fearing our own economic frailty. While others screamed for righteous recognition upon the ladder of the vaunted American Dream, our profession stagnates. Years of miles upon the unforgiving streets has yet to earn us respect even as the cost of living soars above all who struggle to pay the lords of capitalism. THEY get rich, WE get tired, often dying before we are RE-tired. 

Gee, thanks. F-you very much. 

If I were truly a "Hero", my back pay would have come instantly upon ratification of our agonizingly-long contract negotiations. Yet, we wait without any hint of when the heavily-taxed money we should have seen years ago appears before us.

Any true hero would have been hoisted upon the back of Management personnel, given a true welcome back to the Garage, the GM Himself heralding my safe return after 15 months of guiding the Bacterial Express through pandemic/choking smoke/ice and snow with the same determination shown during "normal" conditions.

No, please don't call me a "hero". Unless I save a toddler alone and blocks from home some early morning. Or only if I stop some testosterone-fueled beast from terrorizing a lass, pull a family from an early-morning house fire or stop my bus to pull a motorist from their crumpled car before it explodes. More horrifyingly-real and commonplace these days, if I stop another from catching a random bullet.

We do this across the globe with regularity, yet we're kicked to the curb whenever respect is due. 

I do not consider myself heroic just for doing my job, no matter how perilous the conditions. I just wish my transit management did. Instead, it would rather persecute us for the silliest of perceived infractions. 

We roll wheels no matter what assails Portland. Incessant rain, occasional snow/ice storms, fire or disease, we show up. It would be nice if this simple fact were amplified to our populace, along with simple rules for riding, by those whose job it is to protect and support us.

It's sadly telling that we are lamely labeled "heroes" while our management tirelessly assails us, hidden from media coverage. The only time our story is told is when one of us is falsely-accused of some ridiculous lie, or in the case of my beloved brother who was recently the victim of an errant bullet, thrown to the masses in a simple case of the all-too-bloody commonality American "freedoms" afford us.

Humans are frail. We ask a lot, so that we may pass a better tomorrow upon our beloved spawn. Machines we are not, but that is what we are doomed to become. When we are replaced by non-feeling robots, management will no longer have to worry about contracts or human rights. You see this in their bored faces whenever we implore the "Bored of Directors" to hear the least of our pleas. They are the robots of today; WE, the worker bees who make the honey you all benefit from.

Beware the moment "heroes" are replaced by robots. You won't feel guilty for not thanking us on the way out a bus or rail door. Just keep on looking down at your phones, folks. Nobody will greet your entry or wish you a fond farewell, or stress over hundreds of dangers which could propel you forcefully forward into a disastrous situation while skillfully eliminating each instance. 

You're welcome. Humans guide you to your destination no matter your ignorance of our professionalism. Operators, Dispatchers, Road Supervisors, Maintenance... we're all out there ensuring a smooth ride for your pampered safety. Our management coddles and supports each whiny complaint even though you fail to acknowledge or even see the countless disasters we avoid while you surf the internet. 

Just keep ignorant, Safely-Guided Public. You have no idea how unsafe our management propels you into your ungratefulness. 

We show up anyway. We have mouths to feed, roofs to maintain, futures to build. And you know what? We'll keep doing it no matter how much you insult/assault us. No thanks to you, we're there every 15 minutes or so.

You're welcome. Now please pay attention. Have your fare ready before we open the door. Be kind, respectful and honorable. That's all we ask. The rest is up to US.


2 comments:

  1. I could fertilize my garden with all that hero carp.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll feel more appreciative of our company calling us heroes if we got more basic respect from higher up.

    ReplyDelete

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