STOP the Freeloading Druggies!

Deke/Patrick's Note: Has my wandering from this blog for other literary goals rendered my once-bellowing voice an echo from the past? I hope not, because there is SO much yet to say. Do NOT, for one instant, believe I have left you. While fewer actually read this nowadays, I'm still fervently attuned to the pulse of Portland transit, and I have much to say. All of it, I must add, from this Bus Operator's viewpoint. 

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Why must this metropolis be the testing ground for a horribly-failed policy favoring the whiny lowlifes? Look what this mind-set has done to our city! Our once-vital and booming tourist-destination downtown business district is but a ghost of what it once was, pre-COVID. Before this pandemic struck, we still had plenty of hard-working, decent people streaming to work and supporting a healthy downtown economy. Now, it's instead a mess of discarded tents/blankets/trash and used needles in need of a massive societal shift.

I have had several tourists on my bus who have been aghast at Portland's downfall the past few years. Each of them have said to me, "I used to come here often, but I'll never return unless this mess gets cleaned up. It's so disgusting compared to what it once was." 

Are you listening, "concerned" city leaders? I hope so, because I'm doubtful. Your ears are tuned more to the whiners than the doers.

Downtown Portland is a shell of what it once was just two years ago. Very few small businesses remain, and even the corporate-driven stores are giving up. Why? Simply because our "leadership" has failed to bolster the masses who held us up during the pandemic. This is our great reward for sticking through it all. Now all Portland supports are those whose only goal is to slay the goat of some alien philosopher's distant cousin. Sounds weird, eh? Try following the one-sided conversation of Needle Ned as he loudly philosophizes such nonsense on my bus. It's not much different from the drivel spouted locally and by most of the Salem Statehouse.

It's true that those who turn to drugs have deep psychological issues with which they need help. In the 1980s, the federal government decided to give up trying to help those with mental health problems, kicking basically-helpless folks onto our city streets with virtually no support. Those who have nowhere to go find comfort in the smoky or needle-pricked haze the lack of a roof over their heads turn them to. Many would rather not use drugs, but their predicament seems so hopeless it may be their only solace. Addiction is a fierce foe. I understand it's an illness, a spreading cancer we're not adequately treating.

I write this as a socially-conscious white liberal/conservative honest American who drives a bus for a living? Because I see, feel and experience on a daily basis, the horribly-negative effects of these ill-conceived policies which elevate the part of a society trashing our downtown. So often, ill-conceived policy sentences addicts to the muck of helplessness. I'm sick of it, folks, and I'm sure many of you agree. It's sad and disgraceful.

Portland, your policy of turning a blind eye to the problems shadows the shine of those who part the clouds winter with our earnest hard work. When the federal government ended the (albeit cruel) treatment of the mentally-ill, it all went horribly wrong. Federal policies, for all its' "leave nobody behind" sound bites, have done just so. There's all this, and deservedly so, talk about the "middle class" but ZERO about those left behind. Many of whom make OUR lives miserable.

Miscreants refuse to pay fare even though their pockets are often more full than mine. They cause horrible mischief on transit, becoming even more bold because our court system is overwhelmed and lacking public defenders. Many "minor crimes", which are major to US, are often dismissed because our justice system requires speedy resolution for the accused. If there are no public defenders available, the charges must be dropped. This leaves victims yearning for justice and finding none. Victims without resolution, the accused set free to wreak havoc at will.

And what do we get in return? Just deal with it, you "overly-paid public servants... JUST DRIVE."

Even our transit management seems intent on taking the side of drug addicts who cause the most disruption. I've come to realize there's not a lot that can be done, especially given the municipalities' inability to effectively prosecute. How can I offer suggestions when we're bound by the inefficiencies which handcuff our current predicament? It's incredibly frustrating to a bus operator waiting for help that may never come as we sit with spit dripping down our chin. That's an assault, not likely to be punished. However, we'll suffer punishment alone, our anger seething with each mile.

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Idling at Harrison/4th for 90 minutes
during Snowmageddon 2023.

One passenger decided to throw a tantrum when asked to leave the bus at the end of the line. He made a mess of the bus, broke windows and threatened the Operator. Now, said Op is up for a disciplinary meeting because he refused to stand down when he made the ultimatum of asshole leaving or him "marking off" disgusted. If transit management cannot take care of its own, instead threatening us with discipline if we refuse to take charge when our personal safety demands it, then we might as well just abandon "public transit".  We see drug use and troublemakers on transit vehicles many times a day. Where there is nowhere for the so-challenged to go, our rides seem to them the "safe place" because city leaders need to take responsibility and treat the drug-addled few who cause the most trouble.


There is a simple solution to this "homeless" situation. Stop letting them rule. Stop pandering to the socialistic special interests. Ship the homeless back to their original  destination, which likely provided them a one-way ticket to Portland because of its' "drug addicts rule" policies. The others? Put them in facilities designed to treat their addictions. Meanwhile, have the federal government clean up the mess IT created.

RAISE THE FARE! Do not EVER make our transit system "free". (Here's a link to an interesting article about current transit trends.) It would only make matters worse. It's still the best deal in town, hands-down. Try hailing a cabbie and asking a ride from one end of the city to the other for $2.50, and they'll leave you choking on their tailpipe.

Insist passengers exit our vehicles at the end of the line, and are not allowed to continue riding the same until they're simply tired of doing so. Allowing constant freeloaders takes seats away from fare-paying, honest, contributors to the local economy. Fare evaders usually offer nothing, except trouble. Elevate the masses who pay every day and are offended so many others who refuse if we hope to increase ridership.

We could DOUBLE the fare and still be the best transit option in town.

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I'm all in favor of the pro-cannibis laws. Pot smokers are often fun and much less-likely to cause trouble on transit. Unless they light up on our vehicles, which should forever remain prohibited. Drunks or hard-druggies however are usually trouble-makers who need to sober up a bit prior to catching a ride. My vehicle is not a state-, or federally-approved, tavern. You want a drink or buzz? Find one before you ride my bus, not during.

It's time for Portlanders to take back our city from those who now control it. WE make Portland work, NOT those who cause property damage and disrupt our downtown business district, driving away vital tourism dollars. Make the troublemakers clean up their own mess. Provide the treatment promised which this misguided decriminalization of hard drugs has created. The decent, fare-paying hard-working Portlanders deserve better. Reward positivity and punish poor choices. Only then will Downtown Portland become, once again, a worldwide destination.

I'm not liberal or conservative. I'm simply a hard-working American transit operator who has seen enough misery to speak out for the majority left behind. Politicians talk a great game, but they all fail the test. Meanwhile, I'm left driving my bus wondering which passenger will shoot me (like my buddy Dale) while simply doing my job.

I see several people who suffer homelessness who have jobs or collect cans and bottles to buy food or a hotel room once a week to rest and get clean. They are simply the victims of bad luck this struggling economy often forgets. Braving the frigid weather they forego shelters, show respect and pay their fare. They earn my respect because I believe in rewarding the pain of those who have fallen below the poverty line through no visible fault of their own. I was once among their ranks, some four decades ago. One such fellow is stubborn to refuse my offer of a free pass; he prefers to pay his own way, even though it's obvious those bags of recovered recyclables are possibly his only income.

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All I need to do my job is support. I get a lot of that from passengers on the line I drive, and I'm one of the lucky few. When they thank me as they get off the bus, I'm grateful because that's all I can expect.

On my weekends this past month, I've been blessed to have my newborn granddaughter awaiting me at home, for my son and his loves find rest and solace in our home after our collective long weeks. Holding this sweet infant through the night while her mommy and daddy sleep is a sweet reward. Such coming bliss dulls the pain of the myriad of problems which swirl through my mind as I drive The Beast.

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There. I said what needed saying. It drops a heavy load off these pained shoulders. Written expressly for the masses who do our jobs, without hesitation in service to our community. Disagree? Oh well. I'm tired of paying for your misguided coddling of troublemakers.


Comments

  1. Absolutely protect us not them

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  2. Bitch and moan bitch and moan. Your an at will employee. If it’s so that bad maybe go find another job

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    1. I love how we're just supposed to "find another job" because people refuse to stop being assholes. Here's a clue, fuckface ANONYMOUS career-advice giver: YOU come downtown, shovel shit for a while, get spit on, and then be expected to hand them a free straw and smile? GO FUCK YOURSELF AND GET A FUCKING JOB, PIECE OF SHIT TIN FOIL HUFFER. See how much you like babysitting fully grown four year olds.

      I feel better now.

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  3. Good writing & true,, give us back Rose City!!!

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  4. I did 24 years retired, seen it all... Yes lowlifes , trouble makers etc.. Too care of all that shit myself . your on your own . management is always one these losers side . ignore these

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  5. That sucks. Hang tough my friend. I know from my husband how bad it’s gotten. And to think, I thought it was bad before I left 13 years ago.

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  6. Now they are considering giving all the drug addicts $1000/month. I'm sure it will be used for food, clothing and shelter. Burns me

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  7. Grandpa shut up and sit down! You contradict yourself over and over, this is nonsense

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