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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, July 6, 2021

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 the end of an era. Not one of major importance, given the grievous times in which we endure. However, it is nevertheless with great sadness I announce the death of my artistic twin.


DEKE N. BLUE
MAY 5, 2014 - JUNE 30, 2021



Deke didn't want to die. None of us do, but it comes to each just as every life on Earth greets a sunrise. We're all doomed from birth to someday breathe our last. It's not something most dwell upon. In Deke's short sojourn, he began having fun and through his eight years described much of his 240,000-plus miles on this website. Some of it was painful, at times light-hearted and others angry darkness obscured his original intent. For an eight-year-old professional, Deke was sad at how often he sat here, spiraling down into a world he had not envisioned at his literary birth.

I wanted to describe Deke's fiery exit dying "behind the wheel", even imagined every scenario I might write it to be. Every one seemed fake, but that's not how I roll. Just the facts, dude. Deke is just... gone baby gone.

* * * * *

It was originally intended to be a frivolously literary venture through an exciting new career. And so it was, the first few years. This blog attracted readers because Deke described a life very few considered interesting. Except by those who live it, every moment of their waking lives.

Being a transit operator encompasses much more than the daily trudge to a workplace. It invades every aspect of one's life, daily routines and even our weekends. We become slaves to schedule. One second late can result in the loss of a day's pay, or even losing the job if we fail to assimilate into transit's military-like ritual. 

Time begins working backwards from the time we awaken. Each 3-4 month period, we choose our work schedule for the next season behind the wheel. At that point, a seasoned road-relief operator will begin planning. For us, the job begins by relieving another operator who starts their route early in the morning at the garage. They sign their work on average 15-20 minutes prior to its start time. They pick up that route's pouch. Read the Re-Route sheet if it's dated that day to see what alterations they need to incorporate in their run. Then they walk out to the assigned bus and inspect it as the engine warms up. Logging into the Computer Aided Dispatch computer and the farebox, adjusting their workspace for the 100+ miles awaiting them, they mentally prepare for a day during which they might not return home from. It's a vital ritual performed by thousands of operators across the globe.

I chose to avoid the garage, the early morning ritual in favor of skipping forward in the day. The pay is better for those who work the 2-Midnight roll. Plus, I'm a loner. My personality rubs many wrong; it's better I avoid the masses.

For two years I worked the Extra Board and experienced the crowded conditions of the early-morning bullpen. Although many people entered into my life who have contributed great value to my soul during this phase, it was fleeting. The pressures of constantly putting on a happy face so early in the day to so many, combined with the stress of landing runs I became increasingly weary of, convinced me to sign a regular schedule. 

Chase the buck. That's been the bane of my existence for the entirety of the past 40 years of professional toil. And yes, my decades of work have been professional in nature. It is too easy for the working class to allow society's dictates to describe years of dedication to whatever "job" we land. It has been my goal in each of my careers to do my utmost best in each of them.

Accolades be damned; my efforts were for self-gratification. Why? Because Mom dedicated herself to the belief this brain-injured infant had the ability to great things. She willed me to walk and excel when "professionals" told her to "forget" about me and shove me into some cold and dead-end institution. Everything I have accomplished, albeit miniscule in the grand scheme of global wonderment, has been because my parents never gave up on me. It has been a lifelong goal to prove those doctors wrong, to shine a light on Ma & Pa's dedication to me, their belief in my abilities to love and create through my writing.

So here I sit, this final time writing to you. Here. I don't always know who will chance upon this blog, but evidently I have struck a chord. Over 600,000 times according to Blogger Stats. You may be in India, China, Ireland, France, Canada, or in my beloved United States... it doesn't matter where. The mere fact that you're reading this post evokes emotion because I know it wouldn't be possible if Mom had believed Doctor Dumbshit's ominous statement "I don't believe Patrick will never walk or talk or have a 'normal' life." Her reply: "Bullshit. If I have ANYTHING to say about it, he most certainly WILL."

My literary career began the year I learned to read. Having long disproven the doctors' disbelief in Mom's determination, my life has been astonishing leaps above expectation. Maybe I stumbled a few times and missed my mark. I have often lacked timing. Every accomplishment has come long after it should have. I tend to procrastinate. Pressing tasks are often completed much later than they should. It is a lifelong fault, and each time I face a wall it takes too much time to climb. I'm constantly missing the 8-ball. Occasionally I hit it on the first shot, but usually it takes a luckily-made second chance shot. 

* * * * *

If you have paid attention, you have noticed my writing has become stale. If you're as old as I am, it's like Rerun Season was on TV way back when. Part of it stems from transit management's recent disability. For the past decade it has taken the stance that "the only good worker is a scared one". I have pounded my anger into this chalkboard screech through many a post. Earlier this year, I recognized my pattern was to ignore the literary gems this job affords my artistic soul in lieu of blasting management for yet another (and constant) insult upon US. In fact, it became nearly impossible to return to my bloggerful roots. At that moment, I realized Deke's time was done. My writing about this career could not turn the corner and find a fresh direction. 

Two years ago as I drove Line 9 across the Tilikum Crossing in Portland, I thought of a new story idea and immediately began writing it. Since then I have written on it in bursts and spots, opening and closing the bus door on it through a series of inspirations and doubts. This year I realized my writing career cannot climb any higher if I persist in this addiction to blogging. I knew it was either Deke or something better. So long, buddy. It was fun, for a while. Now it's time to reach a bit higher. Ma and Pa insist that I keep doing so until my hand no longer retains a pulse.

For eight years I have used this platform as a therapeutic tool. It felt good to blast the ills operators face. Then I watched readership plummet. It became obvious many no longer found solace here. Sure, a dedicated few encouraged me to keep writing. But there were signs it had to end. My rants became that annoying skip of a record that required a leap from the easy chair of relaxation to force the stylus forward. Once so coaxed, the sound was the same. Deke had finally rolled back to Ground Zero. Again. The realization struck hard, but it finally was forceful enough to slap me in the face so hard I understood.

* * * * *

So here we are. My first post and the second described just why I began this venture. Because the next dozens became part of JUST DRIVE - Life in the Bus Lane (no longer in print) I made them invisible from the blog. It was a ploy just so you would buy the book. (Laughter) It worked for the few dedicated readers who shelled out the $15 to get their copy. Enjoy them... there's only about a thousand or less.

Over the next few weeks, I will open the earliest posts back into the archives. But I cannot write here again. Deke is dead, and needs to stay so. I never believed the book would be a best-seller. I had hoped to do a bit more than break even; it didn't happen. Oh well. A writer's life is like that: win a few, lose more. That's okay. It feels good just to have put it out there.

Although this blog has run its course, I promise to keep writing. It's what I do. I cannot stop until this body finally gives up. It's just time now to point these fingers ever onward.

* * * * *

So, here we are. Thank you for reading. Eight years, across the entire world. Wow. I'm honored and beyond grateful. I'm amazed, humbled and happy. Thank you a million times over. This has been my greatest achievement. So far.

Along life's bumpy road, my greatest wish is that all your ups and downs be in bed. Peace, and love to y'all... I'm out.

-- 30 --



Farewell Deke N. Blue

A shout out to my brothers and sisters 
at rail. I'm sorry to have never written
your stories. My love for you however
is as true as that for my fellow
bus operators.


Deke's Note: See below.

I have tried many times to end this odyssey, with no success. It should have happened long ago. But some habits, even good ones as you know, are difficult to overcome. This time, I have to do it. 

Once upon a time, I began writing about a new and exciting career. Across the street from where I now sit. My sons were teens, I was nearly a decade younger and still full of testosterone-charged vitality.

As I gaze out this Alice's House window, the early morning sunshine illuminates the house we all shared much joy together as my family and I matured. The property has taken on new life with my now-neighbor's vision. It looks different, but comforting in its memories. In this house, my dear friend Alice Crader once lived. I would often venture over as she sat on the porch just outside this window, just to chat with our neighborhood matriarch. 

Alice loved to read, and was very supportive of my writing. Because I love roses, I often deadheaded her blooms with my ever-present pruning shears. We talked of anything and everything as we watched my sons and their friends playing basketball on yonder hoop. Little did I know, Alice's House would become my Forever Home. We are only the seconds here... Alice designed and had this home built to her specifications. We love it so very much.

Across the street, FromTheDriverSide was born as I sat at the keyboard wondering "what the hell should I write next?" Writing is my soul’s mirror. Thoughts reflected me, and became words via fingertips. I wrote strange nothings or short stories, always searching for a muse. Then one night as a rookie bus operator, I thought it would be cool to write a journal of sorts about my life as a bus operator. Along the way, I documented several feelings related to those who make the wheels roll.

Early on, Al Margulies (RANTINGS OF A FORMER TRIMET BUS OPERATOR) asked "who is this guy?". He marveled over my comment that people were dangerously-close to being squashed "flatter than a sand dollar on diet pills". Later, he chuckled at my comment that some people were "too lazy to masturbate". He has constantly plugged this blog on his own, and once interviewed me live online about my book as I excused myself on a date with my Beloved. Thanks, Al... your support has always been more than a word digger could have imagined.

Next came another new friend and brother Tom Horton. He helped edit my book, encouraging me every step. When OPB's Think Out Loud interviewed me, he sat in the "Green Room" with Beloved and listened as I stumbled through the grilling I received. Tom has been conspicuously absent from my life the past few years, and I miss him. But he has dealt with many personal obstacles and I love him enough to leave him be. Even so, thank you Tom for being one of my earliest and most constant supporters.

Having been read across this magnificent globe has been my most rewarding accomplishment. We who do the work of transit often have similar feelings no matter where our buses roll. To have my words viscerally felt by hundreds of kindred souls is my treasured honor. I have always written what it feels as THIS operator; to know that it resonates with my fellows makes it difficult to stop.

Along the way, I have made some incredible friendships with many I hope to someday meet in person. Fellow writers Robert at bustropical.org in Florida, Author Billy Alsheimer in Rhode Island, Bruce Whalley in Melbourne Australia, Tommy Tompkins (TommyTransit.com) have inspired me along the way, and impressed me with their individually-creative insights on transit. Although we operate across separate continents, there are parallels which bind us together in this strange world of transit. The parallels and perils of our profession draw us closer than than the miles which separate us. I dream of a Meeting of Artistic Transit Minds someday, where each of us (and others not necessarily or immediately known to this group) come together. If Billy has his own dream realized, I hope to help.

Most of all, I thank my Beloved. She has endured being referred to as "Mrs. Blue", which she detests. She has supported me through my many episodes of self-doubt with steadfast devotion to my craft, edited my ill-advised phrases, soothed my mistakes over which I feared the worst, helped edit the book and celebrated each triumph these past eight years. Beloved is my First Reader, my most revered and trusted critic, and the first editor of any word that might be misconstrued. Mostly, she is the dampening of my excesses, the balance to my excesses. Beloved brings peace when life seems all turned turvy. Thank you, my sweetest dearest love. Hopefully this endeavor grows into something much greater.

To write my experiences as a bus operator has rewarded me in more ways than I can describe. Mostly, I hope I have done honor to a profession that is often ignored unless something tragic occurs. My tales have been in dedication to the thousands who grasp the wheel no matter what confronts us. We are often assailed by the riding public and those who oversee our every moment in service, but we persevere.

Deke's Note: This was meant to be the "last" one, but I found the voice once again to hopefully do justice to eight years of writing. You want to read it, go ahead. It's just above this one.

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...