Monday, July 30, 2012

DON'T CUSS IN FRONT OF GOD!

I had a stinky, drooling drunk guy get on my bus the other day. He was a gross slob. He sat in the seat right behind me and started talking to himself. He was quite loud. I ignored him up until the point he started cussing every other word. I turned around and asked him nicely to watch his language. I also pointed out that there was a small child on the bus and that the nasty language would not be tolerated in front of the kid.

To my surprise, he stopped cussing. A little later, he came up to get off the bus. He said "You don't like me much, do you?" I said "It's not that. I just don't like people using that kind of language in front of other peoples' small children." He stopped on the stairs and slurred "I cuss in front of God, I cuss in front of everybody. I cuss whenever I feel like it!" Trying to encourage him off the steps before another F-bomb flew in front of the kid I said "Well, you have a good night. Take care of yourself. Buh bye."

The slob got off the bus and started walking away. I knew he was pretty loaded, so I made sure he was nowhere near the bus before I pulled away and started turning the corner. Suddenly, I heard him yelling like he wanted the bus. Yeah, right. I didn't want that foul mouthed drooler back on so I continued rounding the corner and drove away.

I got about a mile away and was noticing there were only a few people left on the bus. Then it hit me... uh oh! The bike on the front rack was the drunk guys bike! THAT'S what he was yelling about! Oopsie doodle!

Call it karma...I guess that's what you get for cussing in front of GOD!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER

I recently gave Twitter a try, not sure if I like it or if I'm even doing it quite right. I did leave a comment for Jason DeRusha on channel 4 and he answered me, so I must be doing something right!

I figure since I have been neglecting my blog in the interest of getting my blog book done, I'd give you a chance to stay in touch.

Don't panic! I do still plan to blog while I get the book done, but won't be blogging nearly as much as I used to...as you've probably noticed.

To follow me on Twitter, you can find me @ jeanneree2116.  I'll give it a try and see how it works out. Remember, I am technologically challenged but I'm also a fairly quick learner so I'll give it a try!

Tweet me!

HE'S SHOOTING!!

I'm really getting sick of the 2 route lately. Too many people with issues on the crackhead side of the route. I've had countless issues with fare evaders, drunks and crackheads since this pick started in may. The college side is a welcome relief!

I call the stretch between Nicollet and the Light Rail Station "The Gauntlet". This is where most of the problems are. I suggested to my manager that I just put a "Not Your Bus" sign on the front of my bus and run the gauntlet as fast as I can. He didn't see it my way. Maybe if I had done that, I'd have missed out on my front row seat of THIS playing out....

I was running a little early when I got to the time checkpoint at Chicago and Franklin. I pulled into the bus stop, where people got on/off the bus. I was sitting there waiting out my time until I was back on schedule when chaos erupted.

Some idiot stood about 60-ish feet in front of my bus near the sidewalk and started SHOOTING!! He was shooting across 4 lanes of traffic into the park across the street. It was a warm, beautiful day so the park was packed with kids, families and guys playing basketball. It looked like he was shooting at the guys on the basketball court.

I heard about 5 shots and caught myself staring at the shooter in disbelief. It seemed his gun jammed or something and I saw him pull back the top part of the gun and a flash of metal caught my eye. Just then the guy looked right toward my bus. My heart skipped a couple beats and then the guy ran away.

Of course, I called the Control Center. I couldn't tell if anyone had been hit, but knew it was a miracle if no one was. There was really nothing else I could do, but I told the Control Center to make sure the police got the video from my bus. There is a    digital camera out the front window and it was broad daylight when this happened.

I continued my route. After a short layover, I headed back in the other direction. When I got to the area of the shooting, I noticed there were police all over and crime scene tape circled the area the shooter was standing. There was this amazingly HOT looking cop walking in my direction. I pulled over and flagged him over to my bus. (Hey, he was F-I-N-E!!!) I told him what I saw, he asked me a few questions, got my information and just before I left I told him to make sure he got the video from my bus. His whole face lit up. He said "You have it on video?" I told him about the camera out the front window and how close the guy was. It being broad daylight with a digital camera, the guy might as well have had his name on his forehead.

Luckily, only one guy was hit and he was only grazed across the chest. He didn't even go to the hospital. That is a true miracle. There were tons of people in that park, not to mention all the cars in the 4 lanes between the idiot shooting and the park.

Just another day on the 2 route. I can't wait 'til we pick new work!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

MAXINE

I'd like to introduce you to another of my interesting regulars.

Have you ever seen the comic strip character Maxine? She's an old lady that is very negative about everything. I am convinced that an old woman that rides my bus quite often is the actual person this comic strip is based on. She literally will growl at you. Her face is in a permanent scowl. She never has anything positive to say, if she speaks at all. She even physically looks like the comic strip drawing! Therefore, I have named her Maxine.

Usually, when I see Maxine, my goal is to make her smile. I have only been successful at this once. I was so happy and shocked, I have forgotten exactly what I said to make her smile. Just saying "hello" and "have a nice day" does nothing but make her give you one of her angry, evil looks.

Maxine has a new reason to hate me...and all route 11, 17 & 18 bus drivers. She apparently lives right at the end of the downtown zone. That is a 50 cent ride on these routes, which I do. There is a different route that she can ride for free, but it stops around the corner...basically, across the street from my bus stop. Seems that's too far for her angry self to walk. I suggested the other route to her before, just trying to save her some money. She growled at me...really! She growled at me and threw 2 quarters into the farebox.

Lately, she'll get on my bus and grumble "Oh, it's YOU!" I just smile and ask "How are you doing?" Secretly, I'm half afraid she'll actually answer that honestly and half curious enough to want to know what her problem is. She just throws her fare in hard and goes and sits down.

I'd like to make her day and just give her a free ride, but one thing I've learned over the years is not to do something you don't want to do all the time. She would expect a free ride...from all drivers every day. Besides, it's not fair to others that pay the 50 cents every day. It's tempting to say something to her like "Just because I'm so happy to see you today, I'll give you this ride free...just for today." Hmmmmm...it's something to think about.

DJ TRIPLE SHADY

There's a guy that hangs out on Franklin Avenue I have to tell you about. He's a tall, skinny white guy. He kind of looks like Vanilla Ice on crack. He always carries a big boom box 80's style...on his shoulder. Sometimes he has a basketball. Often, he is on a street corner cleaning out the sidewalk cracks, sweeping away dirt or chopping ice and snow. Lately, he's been wearing 3 pair of sunglasses...all at the same time. That's where I made his name up from DJ = boom box. Triple Shady = 3 pair sunglasses.

I've never had any trouble with DJ on the bus. He always turns off his music and pays his fare. I had to laugh one day, he turned off the music and then pushed a button on the cassette player. I thought it was odd because he always leaves his music off on the bus. I laughed to myself when the cassette compartment opened up. He had a stack of about 10-15 transfers in there! I should have known! The cassette player was always the first thing to break on those boom boxes!

I had my first issue with DJ Triple Shady recently. When I opened the door to let a group of people on, he seemed to be in a verbal altercation with another guy. I said something like "Whoa! I hope you guys are done with that because you can't bring it on this bus." The first guy kind of frowned at me, but he shut up and got on the bus. Then DJ boards saying "Yeah, but he looks like Will Smith!! " Looking at the first guy, I could see why he was pissed. Other than being black, he looked NOTHING like Will Smith. DJ kept it up as he went to sit down, "You know Will Smith!! The famous actor. Don't you know who Will Smith is?" I said "Yes, I do, and he's not on this bus. Are you done or are you going to catch the next bus?" He shut up and all was well.

I'm surprised DJ doesn't get his butt whooped every day if he's out there making comments like that. I mean, it would be one thing if the guy even slightly resembled Will Smith, but he didn't. It just seemed kind of racist for him to say that. Like the old line that white people think all black people look alike. It just made him look ignorant.

Anyway, just thought I'd introduce you to another one of my real-life characters. He's out there all the time doing weird stuff, so I'm sure I'll write about him again.

SURPRISE!!! I'M BAAAAAACK!

SURPRISE!!! I'M BAAAAAACK!

Monday, September 19, 2011

BITCHY, BUT FUNNY

I always greet my customers. Usually, I say "Hi" or "How are you doing" and thank them when they pay their fare.

I had this business woman get on one day. She was dressed like a classy yuppie. Her outfit matched, all the way down to her purse. She didn't have a hair out of place.

Apparently, the look was deceiving. She must have had a rough day. I greeted her with my typical "How are you doing?" and she was very honest. She said "I'm a little bitchy today, if you wanna know the truth."

I couldn't help it, I laughed. That made her smile. I said "Well, I wasn't expecting that! I hope your day gets better!" She said "Thanks, it just did."

Bitchy lady...made the day for both of us!

THANK THE VOLUNTEERS

I love seeing people helping people.

North Minneapolis was hit by tornadoes this summer. The devastation was unbelievable. A lot of people that were forced from their homes or had much damage were people that had very little in the first place. It was like adding insult to injury. It was sad.

The outpouring of help from the community was fantastic.

I was driving a bus a day or two after the storms. As I pulled up to a bus stop on Nicollet Mall, there were three people standing there with bikes. The bike racks only hold two bikes. It was later at night and buses didn't run as often so I told them they could bring one on the bus, just put it out of the way as much as possible.

They thanked me repeatedly and loaded up their bikes and boarded. The two guys and the girl were talking to each other about their day. They spent over 12 hours on the north side helping with storm clean-up. I noticed when they got on they all paid with transfers, which means they paid cash fares. They spent their own money to catch two buses and ride their bikes to a neighborhood foreign to them to help people in need. I was touched.

I called the Control Center and told them about these people. I had overheard them planning to go back again the next day. I asked for permission to give them each two free ride transfers so they wouldn't have to spend their own money. They thought it was a great idea and told me I could.

I gave them each the transfers as they got off the bus. They acted like I gave them gold. I thanked them for helping people that really needed it. I told them if the world was filled with people like them, it would be an awesome place to live.

If you can't be a volunteer, at least thank one. They truly appreciate it!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

SHOES I COULD NEVER FILL

When I was in training, eleven years ago, one of my instructors said something that I have found to be very true. The people that are not at a bus stop, prepared to catch a bus, are the ones that will cause you trouble.

I was driving up near the cab stand at Nicollet and Grant. There was this young girl that must have been trying to get a deal from the cabbie. She was talking fast and flailing her arms around. The cabbie just looked down and shook his head "no". Then he saw my bus coming and directed her to it, pointing in my direction. Of course, someone rang the bell and I had to make the bus stop. I knew this wasn't going to be good.

I opened the door and my passenger got off the bus. The young girl came running up and asked him for his transfer. He gave it to her, which is illegal. She got on and I informed her that she could not use that transfer. She gave me some sob story about how she was pregnant (how is that my fault??!!??) and she needed to get down to 7Th street. I told her the downtown zone was 50 cents. She said she didn't have any money. Hmmm...about to have a baby and doesn't have 50 cents? Guess our taxes will be supporting that poor baby. Anyway, I informed her that riding without paying the fair was illegal, as was using someone else's transfer. She could get a $180 fine for fare evasion.

I had to get to the midnight line up (all buses meet for 10 minutes so people can connect with other buses...it's a great idea. Makes it easy for passengers.) I didn't want to be late, so I continued to drive as I informed her of the rules. I was secretly hoping the transit police would be there so I could get her a ticket. She had turned into quite a little smart ass. I decided to just leave it alone, not say anything else and just get there. As I drove along, she kept going. Talking about what a heartless bitch I was and how I should put myself in her shoes. Hmmmm...put myself in her shoes. Young, immature, broke, pregnant and running my unborn child around the streets of Minneapolis at midnight. Nope, just couldn't see being irresponsible enough to ever be in her shoes.

She had gotten so mouthy, it was really hard for me to just ignore it. Somehow, I managed to. I wanted to tell her to just shut up. Obviously, the bus was moving so she was getting where she was going. I didn't call the cops. I didn't take the transfer away. I didn't kick her off the bus. She should just shut up and enjoy her free ride. I'm sure there was some Divine intervention that allowed me to just ignore her until she got off the bus.

I was more than disappointed when I got to 7Th street. Not one transit cop in sight. They normally sit right on the corner for the line ups. To top it all off, the too-young-and-irresponsible-to-be-pregnant girl got off and the first thing she did was light up a cigarette. Hmmm...put myself in her shoes. Sorry, just can't do it!

THE VINCI CODE

I had a rather studious looking young lady on my bus. She was reading a book. The book was kind of thin...obviously not "War and Peace" or anything. This other woman got on the bus. She seemed to just want to talk. Most people were ignoring her. She looked like she needed a bath and didn't seem to be the brightest bulb on the tree. The other passengers were doing an impressive job of pretending not to hear her rambling on.

Then the skanky girl zeroed in on the studious girl. "What's your name?" The girl grudgingly looked away from her book to speak to the skank. "Sarah." She said with polite patience. "Sarah with a 'C' ?" Skank asked. Her bulb dimmed even more. The girl kind of laughed and said "No, with an 'S'." Seeming to actually realize how stupid she looked, Skank tried to turn it around on the smart girl. "What are you reading? That's just a SKINNY book!" As if to imply that the girl was reading a "See John Run" type of first grader book.

The girl showed the skank her book. It was too deep for her, so she fought back. "I just read 'The Vinci Code'." Obviously, she never got past the title. The word "Da" must have been too big for her to remember. Sarah, with an "s", was classy and polite and didn't bother to start something by correcting the Skank.

Eventually, Skank got off the bus and the others on the bus couldn't wait to chime in. One said something like "I think she's a hooker." Someone else came back with the best line of all... "You mean a hooker...with an 'H'? "

Some people are just fun!

HERE I AM !!

Sorry if you thought I'd forgotten you!! I'm just having a hard time putting together my book. Every blog I post is one less for the book. I decided I've neglected you all far too long, so I'm gonna post a couple blogs for you. The book will get there eventually!! I'm doing laundry and other stuff in between...but they're on the way! Today....soon! I promise!

Thanks for your patience!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

POP ME UP A TRANSFER - PART 2

Mr. "pop me up a transfer" got on my bus a week later. Same 12B...bus goes to the same place it did before. He was annoying other customers for a while. One guy even got up and moved to the peanut seat (next to the front door). He looked at me as if to say "what's up with that guy?". I just kind of shrugged my shoulders and shook my head.

The jerk proceeded to move to the seat next to the peanut seat guy. Then he asked me "So, ya gonna pop me up a transfer?" I said "No, sir. I'm not." He said "I think we've been through this before." I replied "Yes, we have. So you already know this is a 12B and I don't go to the apartments." He kept being annoying and I was doing my best to just ignore him. I was tapping my fingers on the steering wheel. Then he got sarcastic. "Ooooooo, stressful. What a stressful job you have. Just sooooo stressful!" I said "No, not at all. 99 out of 100 people on this bus are great! The other 1....well, I know what kind of person I'm dealing with. I choose not to let their issues become mine. Life is good." He didn't seem to like that so he switched seats.

I couldn't help but notice, as he was exiting my bus later and mumbling something at me...he got off on 9th! That's where all the bars are! Coincidence? I think not. It explains everything. He was angry because I wouldn't give him a transfer so he'd have another 2 and a half hours to get his drink on. Alcoholics get angry when you mess with their drinking!

I couldn't wait. The first chance I got, I told my manager about this latest situation. I was GLAD I didn't give him a transfer the first time! He was just playing me for extra time. He knew all along that the 12B didn't go to the apartments. What a jerk!

POP ME UP A TRANSFER!

I had just gotten to downtown Hopkins on the 12B. That's where it ends. I parked the bus and noticed there was a guy that didn't seem to know we were at the end of the line. I got up to do my lost and found/security check and asked him "Did you miss your stop?" He instantly got rude and aggressive. He said "You're supposed to go down by Smetana, down by the apartments!" I kept my composure and informed him I was the 12B. This bus didn't go there. He yelled at me, saying I didn't know what I was doing and I must be new here. I tried to explain to him that this was the 12B and it shows on the maps, that are in the free schedules, that this is where it goes. He remained aggressive said "don't be a smart aleck!" and demanded "Pop me up a transfer!"

I was done. I got serious and stern and said "First of all, sir, I don't appreciate how your talking to me. I've done nothing wrong. You paid your fare and I gave you a ride to where my sign says I go. If I had had the wrong sign on or taken a wrong turn or done something wrong and you ended up in the wrong place, yes, I would give you a transfer. I don't owe you anything and the way you are treating me...no, I am not giving you anything."

He stormed off the bus. After only a few steps, he turned around and came back. As he stomped up the steps he demanded "Take me back down to 11th!" I just sat there and flipped through the newspaper as though I didn't hear him. What a jerk. I still had about 5 minutes on my layover so I couldn't bring him down there if I wanted to, which I didn't. I was secretly wishing I went back a whole different way.

It kind of bothered me later. Normally, if someone had gotten on my bus and later realized it was the wrong one and their transfer was running out, I would have given them a transfer so they could get where they were going. This guy was just so rude and aggressive with me, I didn't really care if he ever got where he was going. They say to "be the bigger person" and I usually am pretty good at doing that. This time was just different. He was treating me like dirt. I even told this story to my manager, admitting I had a pretty bad customer service moment. Little did I know then, this guy would get on again, on my 12B, and try it again! See next blog....

THE MORNING LOOK

I was recently driving the route 9 down Glenwood avenue. I was in the area where the projects used to be before they finally bulldozed them. There was a "lady" walking down the street. I think she was a leftover from the projects. She was wearing pajama pants, a dingy white t-shirt with no bra. Her girls were swinging left to right with every step she took. She had on...you guessed it..fuzzy slippers. Her hair was all matted and there were stray chunks sticking straight out. She looked like she just got out of bed, yet she was out walking on a city street.

Then it dawned on me...she's looking for a man! What better look to have than your morning look?!!? That way, when he wakes up next to her, he already knows the terror he will be seeing. It's not a shock. What a great idea! Why didn't I think of that? I spend all that time getting ready to go out into the public when I could just jump out of bed and go.

I think we should all start a new trend. Come as you are. Embrace your morning look!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

MISMATCHED

Some things just don't go together, like the Gangsta in Fuzzy Slippers that I wrote about. Tough guys just don't look right wearing fuzzy slippers. It takes the tough away.

Well, I think I had his brother on my bus the other day. I did my best not to laugh in front of him. This tall, teenage kid got on wearing head-to-toe cliche gear ...cap to the side, dollar signs on his shirt in rhinestones playing like they were diamonds (yeah, right) , baggy pants hanging off his butt with his boxers showing and tennis shoes with fat, unlaced shoestrings. He was a walking cliche choosing to live the stereotype....until I saw him in the mirror doing his best pimp walk down the bus aisle. On his back was a way- too-small black and pink "Hello Kitty" backpack!!! It looked like he took it from a kindergarten schoolgirl!!

That was just too damn funny!!

RETURN OF THE BACKDOOR GUY

One of my other favorite loose screws got on my bus recently. Remember the Backdoor guy? (Search prior blogs) Well, I was driving the 17 route and he got on around 25Th and Hennepin. I hadn't seen him in a while, yet still got that "oh shit" feeling I get whenever I see him at my bus stop. I wondered if he had a new game to play.

He got on, paid his fare and went and sat down. I was in shock. This has NEVER happened with this guy. At the very least, he hovers around the farebox and has annoying questions or conversation with me as I try and get him to get behind the standee line. I just kept driving and waited for a new game from him...and it came.

I was stopped at a red light. I sensed his presence before he was even near me. He had that goofy grin on his face and was carrying a very large wad of trash as he approached the front of the bus. I don't know where he got the trash from. Did he bring it with him?? It wouldn't surprise me.

As he got closer he said, "I know this is a strange request, but there is a garbage can right out there. Do you mind if I jump off and throw this out?" I was pulled into the bus stop so I just opened the door and told him "No problem, but when the light turns green, I have to go." He jumped off, threw out the trash and got back on the bus before the light even changed. I thought "Hmmm, that wasn't so bad."

I continued to drive and within a couple minutes he came up with a small piece of paper and his silly grin and said "I have some more trash." I just gave him the "Don't mess with me...we are not doing this every block" look (yes, I say a lot with just my eyes ; ) ) and pointed to the trash bag that hangs on the farebox. I told him he could throw it in there, which he did. I drove on and wondered what was next. Nothing. That was it.

All-in-all, I didn't mind his new game. It didn't interfere with my schedule and it didn't involve fare evasion. What more could I ask for?

THE AIRPLANE GUY

I've had this guy get on my bus lately who I haven't seen in a while. I call him the Airplane Guy...let me tell you why.

This guy has some bizarre obsession with airplanes. The first time I saw him was a few years back. I was in a bus stop letting people off the bus. Others began to board and I notice this goof. He's a tall, thin white guy. He had his arms spread like a little kid imitating an airplane. When it was his turn to board, he was standing there with his arms spread wide, tipping from side to side. Standing on his tip-toes, he took a lot of short, fast steps backward. His eyes focused on the steps of the bus and he said "I'm coming in for a landing!" He ran on his tip-toes with little baby steps toward the stairs of the bus and tipped his arms nearly vertical to make it in the door as he jumped onto the bottom step. Then, as I've come to find over the years is normal for him, he sat down mumbling about airports and airplanes as he took a few minutes to find his fare.

Last summer, he was often on Nicollet Mall dragging one of those wire carts around. It was missing a wheel and he didn't seem to notice or mind. I marveled at how he just dragged the cart full of his stuff as I waited for sparks to fly from the corner of the cart as it dragged against the sidewalk.

One day, I was very busy. It was rush hour on Nicollet Mall (in the heart of downtown Minneapolis). I pulled up to the bus stop and was secretly annoyed as everyone seemed to want to exit using the front door. Didn't they see the mob of people waiting to board the bus?? Finally, the people were almost loaded onto the bus and I saw the Airplane Guy. Geez, I don't have time for this today. He was doing his tippy-toe, arms spread, preparing to land routine. I told him he needed to get on the bus. He flew around like the runway was busy and he was waiting for his turn to land. I looked into the mirror and saw a whole line of buses behind me. I gave him one more chance, warning him that we had to go. He didn't seem too eager to land so I shut the door and left. The look on his face as I drove away was priceless. Like I shut down the entire airport before he had a chance to land his plane.

I had been wondering what happened to this guy. Hadn't seen him in a while. Then, just recently, I saw him in line waiting to board my bus at Uptown Station. He didn't do the whole arm thing, just the fast, tiny baby steps as he jumped onto the bottom step. He mumbled something about the "airplane companies" as he got on. He continued to mumble about airplanes and airports as he took forever to pay his fare...but he does always pay.

You know, I've sometimes had a song stuck in my head for a few hours. I just can't imagine being stuck twenty four hours, seven days a week with one topic in my mind! Maybe next time this guy gets on my bus, if I'm not too busy, I'll see if I can actually have a conversation with him...about something other than airplanes!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

NO NEED TO B.Y.O.S.

I was driving around on the 9 route. Nice route. Very few issues. Good people. Bathrooms at both ends of the route (woo hoo!). My buddy from the 23 route was in the peanut seat. He's the guy that told Governor Pawlenty that he made a doctors appointment for him...with a proctologist so he could get his head out of his ass. Gotta love this guy.

I pulled up to a stop. Waiting to board was an older guy carrying 2 folding chairs. I recognized him as a regular rider, a pleasant man. I couldn't help myself. As he came up the steps I said "We provide those here. You don't have to bring your own seat." Appreciating the humor, he laughed as he paid his fare. Then I looked over to the peanut seat. My buddy was laughing so hard I thought I'd have to give him CPR!

People are fun.

MY WORKERS COMP CLAIM

I went in to see my boss the other day. I was rotating and rubbing my shoulder. I told him I thought I needed to fill out some Workers Compensation paperwork. He looked at me, seeming just a tad annoyed, and asked me what happened.

I told him there was this little old lady on my bus. She was the cause of it. With the cusser in the last blog and with someone asking me to call an ambulance, I had had an eventful trip.

Quick side trip to the ambulance story - I was loading people and this young girl came up and asked me to call an ambulance. Seeing nothing obviously wrong on my bus, I asked her what the problem was. She pointed to a woman on the sidewalk across the intersection that was laying on her back. The girl told me the older woman had just fallen down. I immediately made a priority call to the Control Center. I pulled up next to the woman, who was surrounded by an older man and a few scared looking little kids. I opened the door and asked if anyone had called to get them help. The old guy said "no". I told them I had help on the way and they thanked me as I left.

Back to my workers comp claim - After all this, the cusser and the fallen woman, the bell rang and an elderly lady came up front to get off the bus. There had been a lot of snow and I was having a hard time finding a safe, shoveled place to let her off. There was none. I was in a residential neighborhood with no other cars around so I decided it would be best to let her off in the plowed street. I found a spot with some fresh sand. I told her, "This looks like a good spot. There is sand there so you won't fall." I lowered the bus (it was one of the new hybrids that "kneel") and as she got off she said "You're a great driver!" Then she got off the bus and turned around. She had a big smile on her face as she threw her arms up in the air and said " You're a WONDERFUL driver!" I said "Well, thank you! You have a great day." I closed the door and continued on my trip.

As I drove I thought, "That lady said that right into the camera that points out the front door. My boss should have a copy of that to play over and over, especially if I were to ever get into trouble at some time." I decided on the next best thing.

I explained the story of the little old lady to my boss. I told him how "great" and "wonderful" she thought I was. As I rubbed my shoulder and winced in fake pain, I told him I hurt my shoulder when I was patting myself on the back. He got a good laugh out of it. In fact, he told other managers about it. I had another manager come to me with fake sympathy and ask how my shoulder was doing. I rubbed it and told her it seemed to be getting better. A few days later, my manager smiled and asked how my shoulder was. I rotated both of them and told him they were BOTH a little sore lately. I even asked if he got the memo that he was supposed to send people to my house to shovel so my shoulders could heal. He claimed he got the memo and the people had been sent. If only that were true!!

We have a good time.

I'M THE "CRADLE OF CREATION"....???

I had this guy on my rather packed bus cussing on his cell phone, loudly, in the back area of the bus. I got on the microphone and said my usual "We don't mind cell phones on the bus, but profanity WILL NOT be tolerated." He replied "Man, I'm 42 years old!" and went back to talking on the phone. Thankfully, he had cut out the cussing.

The bell rang later and I heard him telling the person on his phone he was going to have a chat with the bus driver about our earlier exchange. He was a big guy. He didn't look too happy. I watched him coming all the way to the front of the bus. I thought this could get ugly. He came up to me and said he didn't like the way I spoke to him. I told him I was just letting him know that cussing on the bus wasn't allowed. He apologized, said he was a man and again stated that he just didn't like the way I said it. I told him I apologized if I had offended him, but there is a time and place for everything and the bus is just not the place for that language.

He agreed. He told me he had some problems he was dealing with. Someone owed him a couple hundred dollars. He, again, stated he was a grown man...he was 42 years old. I told him that just makes it worse. We, being the grown-ups, should be setting an example. He agreed again. He told me he didn't mean to offend me because I was "the cradle of creation" and he had nothing but respect for me.

Hmmm...still not sure what he meant. Did it have to do with me being female? I don't know. Just thought it was an interesting phrase. I told him I didn't mean to offend him either. I thanked him for coming and apologizing. I told him that it is very rare for people to not only see they are wrong but to take responsibility for it. I told him how much I appreciated it.

Guess who got on when I was coming back the other way. Yep. The cusser. As he got on, I told him he had no idea how much I appreciated his apology and thanked him for it. I noticed he had gotten on with a buddy. I didn't want to even almost hear what type of language they were using all the way downtown so I used a bus driver trick. I turned the defroster and other 3 fans in front on high. I enjoyed the drive into downtown. Couldn't hear a thing!

PLANTER POLICE

I'm wondering if there are any Planter Police on Nicollet Mall. Some of those planters are driving me crazy!! I like the fall/winter design of the ones that have the birch tree stubs and the pine around the bottom of them and the red twigs standing up around the birch.

The other ones, that look so unnatural, I want to come fix in the middle of the night. Maybe when no one is around, I can. I'm talking about the ones that have the red twigs tied together at the top. Who's lame idea was that??!!?? They look so stupid. Nothing in nature looks like that.

Do you think I could sneak up to the planters and free the twigs? Just untie the tops and let them stand free, like in the other planters? I want to make it my mission...unfortunately, I don't want to go to jail. They are going to have to stay confined and ugly until the spring. Poor twigs.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

FUNNY MARRIED GUY

I had a really fun guy on my bus recently. We were joking around about how women are always right. How can you tell when a guy has been married a long time? He says "yes, dear" quite often.

He told me he had been married quite a long time. He said he had nothing to worry about because HE was always right. I told him that wasn't going to work. He clarified. He said he's always right because he just agrees with his wife! Then he laughed and topped it off with "she's my better 7/8ths!"

With that attitude he'll be married for life! He was awful young to be so wise!

DON'T KISS THE DRIVER !

I had been off for a week vacation. My first day back, I was quite refreshed and in a great mood. I was driving the 18 route, way not my favorite, but I was having fun with the passengers.

One large guy got on wearing a Patriots shirt. I told him that this was a Vikings bus and he'd have to pay waaaaaay extra to ride with that shirt on. He laughed and thought I was amusing. He decided to stand right up front and chat.

Soon, a guy got on wearing a Vikings cap. I said, "Now, THAT is a hat! This guy should get to ride FREE!!" The Vikes fan didn't quite know what he had stepped into, but was also quite amused and laughed as he paid his fare. I continued talking to the Patriot fan "In fact, you should follow him around all day and pay his way wherever he goes!" The Vikes fan laughed and agreed. The three of us had fun chatter all the way into downtown. It was a great ride.

I made the stops through downtown and wished everyone a great day. Suddenly, things became quite uncomfortable. The Patriots fan was the last one on the bus. Things seemed strangely quiet. I tried to break the tension with some awkward comment about him going all the way to the end of the route and how, for some reason, I'm always the last one off the bus.

Out of nowhere, he took a couple steps over and kissed me on the cheek. I was instantly pissed! How dare he!! The fun was over. I, very sternly, told him there was a zone of "personal space" that he had violated and that that was not acceptable. He kind of laughed it off and said "sorry". That pissed me off even more! He was obviously so NOT sorry. I was fuming, but tried my best to remain calm and in control. I told him he should be sorry because what he had just done was a sexual assault and there were numerous cameras on the bus. Suddenly, he got it. He put his hands up, palms facing me and said "I'm REALLY sorry. It won't happen again. Really. I am so sorry!"

I was satisfied that he saw the mistake he made. I don't think he meant any harm. I think he was some bored, lonely guy that got carried away. In his eyes, I could almost see his thoughts...panic, jail cell, " sex offender" tattooed on his forehead. I told him he learned a valuable lesson and to remember...personal space.

When we got to the layover spot a few blocks later, I acted like nothing had happened and told him "Have a nice day" as I opened the door. I was hoping that was enough hint for him to get off the bus. I was still a little worried about what was in this guys' head, but I just acted like all was well. I stayed near the silent alarm.

Luckily, he got off the bus. The rush of relief I felt as I closed the door behind him was unreal. He was a pretty big guy and things could have gone very bad very quickly.

Lesson of the day: Don't kiss the bus driver!!

EASY TO SPOT

Occasionally, the Control Center will send us a text. Sometimes it's for a missing child or vulnerable adult. Sometimes it's for someone the police are looking for. Sometimes it's to find someone to fill work. Recently, I got an interesting one. The mental picture it provoked was hilarious.

This particular day the police were looking for:

A white male in his thirties last seen in northeast Minneapolis wearing only a t-shirt and socks.

I'm guessing he'd be pretty easy to spot!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

NOT PICKING THIS GUY UP!

I pulled up to a bus stop today that I really didn't want to stop at. As I was approaching it, I noticed one guy waiting normally at the stop and another guy rolling around on the ground...literally. I pulled right up to the normal guy. As soon as he got on, I closed the door. The other guy wobbled to his feet and came over to the door. When he saw I wasn't going to open it, he punched the door. Then he started flipping me off and wobbling around.

I wasn't sure if he was drunk, crazy or both. For the safety of myself and my passengers, I wasn't about to let him on and find out the hard way.

I called the Control Center to let them know I passed someone and the reason I did it. I gave them his description and they sent someone to check on him. I didn't see him the rest of the day.

It seemed the passengers appreciated my avoiding the potential problem. I'm sure, if they ride regularly, they've seen what can happen with unstable or drunk people boarding. I'd rather not risk it and ensure a safe, quiet ride for everyone.

Hopefully, they found the guy and got him whatever help he needed.

Never a dull moment!

CUSTOMER COMPLAINT

Can't believe I got a customer complaint! It came from the lady in the wheelchair in the recent blog.

I told my manager to watch the video. I was so patient, because I knew she had issues, that I told him they could probably use the video for training on how to deal with difficult passengers. He said he wasn't going to file the complaint. Part of her issue was WHERE I broke down. Like I chose the spots my bus quit. She was also upset that I didn't let her off first...when I would have had to deploy the lift in the traffic lane!

Like I said, she had some problems so I can't be mad at her for being upset. I know she didn't realize I did what was best for her, and the rest of my passengers, safety.

I'm just glad my manager listened to my side of the story and saw that it was not a founded complaint. We really have some great managers. Some drivers would disagree. I find that usually those drivers are the troublemakers or just generally negative people. I love my job and truly appreciate when managers take the time to listen to the drivers side of the story and take it into consideration when a complaint crosses their desk.

CONGRATS TO MATT !!!!!

Congratulations to Matt! He said he's been reading my blog for about 2 years. He is the lucky person that found me and won my contest. He and his adorable 2 year old daughter found me on the 2 route today. He said the winning phrase and walked away with all the prizes.

Thanks to all that played. Stay tuned...I'm sure I'll have a contest again.

Thanks also to Matt's daughter for helping me check my bus at the layover for lost and found. She was such a cutie pie. Too bad I gave away the two stuffed animals I brought today before she got on my bus. She was so well-behaved it made me think the "terrible two's" was all a myth.

Now that the contest is over, we can get back to more fun...and not so fun...stories.

Monday, September 13, 2010

HE'S BAAAAAAAAA-AAAAAACK!

There he was at the bus stop. Even though I wanted to just drive by, I pulled over and opened the door. I got shivers and the hair stood up on the back of my neck...just like a pissed off cat.

It was the "Back Door Guy" ! NOOOOOOOOOO!

Okay, I had to pick him up so I decided to see what his game was for the day.

As soon as he saw it was me, he stood with one foot on the step and looked back for another bus to magically be coming along... on my schedule. There wasn't one. He started muttering things about how he wasn't sure if he wanted the bus right now or not, how he had attention deficit disorder and just generally whatever crossed his mind. I calmly told him that I didn't have time to wait. He needed to get on or get off. He chose to get on...damn!

The game began. It was the old pile-of-expired-transfers game. He put the first few in and they came up expired...what a surprise, NOT! I looked at him like "do we have to play this again?" but I didn't say a word. He read my face, stopped the useless transfer game and put the whole pile back in his pocket. He said he needed fresh air and would go sit down and find his fare. I didn't say anything. He went toward the back of the bus and sat down. He opened a window and breathed heavily in and out with his face out the window.

I just kept driving and gave him a "look" in the mirror. A couple blocks later when I stopped, he went out the back door.

Gee, can't wait to see him again. Maybe he'll even pay a fare! Well, at least he hasn't been insisting on coming in the back door lately. That is SO annoying!

HIGH ANXIETY

I had a ball driving the bus for a week to the Minnesota State Fair. People were happy, having fun and behaved on the bus...except for one.

I was driving back toward downtown with a load of people coming from the fair. One lady was in a wheelchair and had an attendant with her. The lady in the wheelchair seemed to be quite negative about everything from the time she got on the bus. I remained my cheery self.

I had just come across the Washington avenue bridge. The speed limit is 45 and slows to 40 before dropping to 30 when you enter downtown near the Metrodome. I was slowing to 40 and my bus quit. Lovely. I was just rounding a corner. Not a good spot to be in, around a corner with traffic coming up behind you at 40 miles an hour. I immediately turned on my flashers and pulled to the side the best I could before the bus coasted to a stop.

The lady in the wheelchair went nuts, yelling "What are we gonna do? Oh No! This is why I never go out...." I tried to calm her while informing my other passengers of the situation at the same time. I told her to relax, the bus had just stalled. I said I was going to turn it off and wait a minute and see if it would start. She continued to fuss. I got the bus going and continued on. I had called the Control Center right away, but by the time they got back to me I was already rolling. I informed them of what happened and that I was continuing my route.

I got onto 3rd street in the middle of downtown and as I approached 3rd avenue the bus quit again. The lady in the wheelchair still hadn't totally recovered from the first breakdown (hers or the bus) and she got even louder. "I have to catch another bus! I have to get to 7th and Nicollet right now! What am I going to do? I should never have come out!" Again, I called Control. I had pulled all the way over to the left curb (it's a one way street) since I was in the far left lane when the bus quit. I put on the flashers and waited for Control to call me back. I tried to calm the lady, seeing she had obvious anxiety and maybe other mental issues. I could see she was highly stressed. In my calmest voice, I told her to relax. Everyone was safe, no one was hurt, it was rush hour and all the buses were running, everyone would get home. It seemed to work for a minute.

The Control center called me back and as I spoke with them, the lady started yelling and freaking out again. Just then, I noticed a big guy in a nice pressed suit standing next to my window. I noticed he had a U.S Marshall badge on. I opened my window and he said "There's no stopping here. What seems to be the problem?" He could hear the woman freaking out. I told him my bus broke down and I had a highly anxious passenger. I was talking to the Control Center to get a new bus and would be gone as soon as I could. He kept looking back at the lady freaking out. Realizing I was dealing with a messed up situation, he dropped all his professionalism and smiled and said "Good luck with that!" and walked away. That made me laugh. His quick change from serious, professional U.S Marshall to looking at me like "glad it's you and not me" and smiling as he made his comment was pretty funny. It's good to see that security hasn't been let down since the attacks on September 11, 2001. I'm sure I was next to a government building and that's why it is marked "No Stopping" all along the curb. Security.

Anyway, Control asked me to go to the back of the bus and open it and see if there was any obvious fluid leaking. I did. As I was coming back, I noticed all of the people were filing off the bus. I had my bright yellow vest on so I stood next to the door hoping cars would see me and move over and not hit my exiting passengers.

I got back on the bus and the lady totally flipped. "You let them all off before me! Mobility is supposed to be first!" I explained that they got off on their own. I didn't bother to correct her about the mobility policy...first on the bus, last off. I didn't think that would be helpful at that time. Instead, I tried to explain to her that I couldn't deploy the lift into a traffic lane. I told her I didn't want her to get hurt. She said "You like them more than you like me!" That was it. How illogical...though not entirely untrue, at this point! I had to get her off the bus before she worked herself into a heart attack.

I got the bus started and pulled straight across the street and up to the curb. What a relief! Now I could get her off the bus! She'd be happy and on her way and all would be well again! Well, not quite. I put out the lift and as she got off she flipped again. "This isn't 7th and Nicollet! I need to be at 7th and Nicollet!" The attendant calmly asked how far it was and I told her if she walked 3 blocks straight ahead, she could catch any bus up the 4 blocks to 7th street. She decided to just walk it.

FINALLY, they were on their way. My new bus came and I finished my day.

All in a days work! The U.S. Marshall made my day!
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