Sunday, July 29, 2007


My favorite homeless guy got on my bus the other day. It was good to see him. I hadn't seen him in about a year and was hoping he was alright. His name is David. He always wants you to sign something of his...his coat, his big stick he carries around or whatever he is carrying at the time. This time he actually had a notebook. He had so many names in it I told him he'd never find mine. He gave me an orange marker to sign with, since most of the other names were in black. I wrote my first name and my drivers number and a little note saying it was good to see him again. He gave me a big smile and thanked me. He said he was trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records with all the names he's collected. Other drivers have told me he actually wants you to tip him to sign his stuff. I pretend I never heard that and he's never asked me for money. It's not a good idea to get into the habit of giving out money. Some people tend to expect it then and it also sets you up to get robbed if they think you always carry extra cash.

David usually is in south Minneapolis. One time he showed me his place as we drove down Franklin avenue on the 2 route. It was a big blue tarp held in place by boards and a shopping cart. He seemed quite proud of his place. Unfortunately, the city came along and made him dismantle it a while back.

I used to let David ride in the winter when it was really cold. Our deal was that he could ride as long as he didn't ask other passengers for money while he was on the bus and I'd let him ride as long as he wanted. He never seems to be drunk or high, so I didn't have a problem with that. He does seem to have some mental health issues, but he doesn't normally act out. My head tells me I should be wary of him, but my heart just has a soft spot for the poor guy. I can't imagine being homeless in Minnesota. It gets so cold. I'm just glad to see he's survived the winter once again and is in good spirits.

It's so easy to look the other way when you see someone who is homeless. I challenge you to actually meet and speak with a homeless person. They all have a story and it is usually quite interesting. Most of the homeless that I have met are down on their luck due to the economy or medical issues. Many others have mental issues and are left out on their own. There are also the drug addicts and be a little careful who you chose to talk with. I would also suggest that instead of giving them money, buy them a burger or something to eat and/or drink. That is usually what they really need and they appreciate it just as much. If their story really touches your heart, give your money to charities that help them. That way you know your money doesn't end up at the liquor store or in the dope mans' hands and you will REALLY be helping someone in need.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Today was strange. I went from talking to the Mayor in the morning to a drunk/high dude threatening to knock me out this afternoon.

This morning I was sitting at a red light on 11th street waiting to take a right onto Nicollet (route 11). Across the street I noticed a guy who seemed to be showing a group of tourists the Peavey Plaza. For those of you not from here, that is an area that is like a concrete park with water fountains. There are various layers to the park so they use it quite a bit for outdoor concerts and food vendors. As I watched, I noticed that the leader of the pack was no other than our Mayor R.T. Rybak! I was a little surprised. I've never seen him in person, though he is on TV quite a bit.

I watched as he passed in front of my bus with the other people trailing behind him. He was looking at me like he wanted something or had something to say. I wasn't exactly at a bus stop, but WAS the Mayor. I opened the door thinking maybe they wanted to get on the bus and out of the heat. The Mayor said to me "These people are with the Republican National Convention!" He seemed so excited. I would have loved to have spoken my mind a little, but the RNC being in town is such a big deal and they want everything to be perfect for them so I just gave them the thumbs up and said "Welcome, welcome!" The Mayor grinned and then I noticed his photographer taking pictures of his every move. As they walked away, my light turned green and I was on my way.

There was a little comedy that followed. The lady in the peanut seat seemed surprised by the whole thing. I said "Actually, I tend to lean a little more to the Democratic side." She said "Yeah, me too. " I told her "Heck, if the Republicans want to come to our Twin Cities and spend millions of dollars, they ARE welcome!" We both laughed and changed the subject. It was kind of fun calling my mom on my layover, though, and casually saying "Not much new. I talked to the Mayor...He approached ME. I didn't approach him...."

Unfortunately, the day didn't end on that cheery of a note. I had some loser get on. He was so drunk and high he looked like his eyes were going to shoot blood out of them at any moment. They were very red and watery. He plopped down in the peanut seat and mumbled something. It was obvious he had no intention of paying the fare. I told him the fare was $1.50. He pretended to look for a fare until the bus started moving. He said something about going to 38th street. I told him the next stop was his if he didn't have a fare by the time we got there. We got to the next stop, which happened to be a red light. I pulled over and opened the door. I turned to look at him and he was glaring at me. He said "I'm gonna knock a bitch out tonight." I secretly opened my pepper spray and got it ready in my right hand. Then I thought he was staggering a little closer to me and I figured he was in the "grab and twist" (his family jewels) range. I switched the pepper spray to my left hand and sized up the target. I was glad his pants weren't baggin'. It's harder to zero in on the right spot and I doubt you get a good grab when they are baggy. He repeated "I'm gonna knock a bitch out tonight." He was standing at the top of the stairs glaring at me and punching his fist into his hand.

I took a chance. I glared back at him with pure evil in my eye. I wanted him to think I was crazier than he was. This usually works with the punk kids but it's kind of risky with someone who is high or drunk. They see it more as a threat sometimes and will get violent. The kids usually are looking for someone to intimidate so when you give them the psycho "bring it on" look, they normally back down. They prefer an easy victim.

Luckily for me, this nut just repeated his threat a couple more times as he got off the steps. Thankfully, my light had turned green. We glared at each other as I drove off. The people on the bus were silent. When we were clearly away from him, they started laughing and talking about the whole incident. It was clear they were impressed with the way I handled it and then went straight back to business as usual as soon as I pulled away from him. They didn't know my heart was pounding in my throat and I really wanted to back up and run the guy over!!

My, what an interesting day!


I was driving the 18 down Nicollet last week when something caught my eye. It actually made me laugh out loud. Not hysterically, but an audible chuckle. Thought I'd share it with you.

I was sitting at a red light at 19th and Nicollet looking at this little corner store. On the windows were written different products they offer like cigarettes, milk, lottery or whatever. I noticed on one window all that was written was


I really hope that isn't ONE product!

Saturday, July 07, 2007


I had two twenty-something year olds get on the 18 this past week. They were so high it was ridiculous. The guy got on and paid his fare. He seemed really tired. Then the girl with him fumbled through her purse looking for her bus card as he literally held her up. Her eyes were half closed and she wobbled all over. After finally paying the fare, they sat in the peanut seat .(lucky me!)

Feeling like I was being watched, I turned and looked. The girl was sitting there kind of slumped with her eyes fixed on me. They were only half opened so all I could see was the bottom half of her eyes. She looked dead. The guy was making conversation with anyone who would listen. I don't know if he was doing it to stay awake or to attempt to cover the fact that they were both VERY high. When people started ignoring him and his girl was asleep propped against his side, he tried to talk to me. "Do you go to Nicollet?" was Einsteins first question. I informed him we were ON Nicollet. He tried to cover his drugged stupidity. "Do you go to Nicollet Mall?" "Yes, after we cross Grant, we will be on the mall." Then he topped it off with a question that could only come from someone that has lost more than a few brain cells. "What stop should I get off on if I want to go to eighth and Nicollet?" It was hard not to sound sarcastic, so I just answered the question. "Eighth and Nicollet." The people sitting nearby got a good chuckle out of that.

I call all the streets downtown a block before we get to them. I called 8th and Nicollet and stopped at the stop. People got on, people got off. High and Higher just sat there looking very dazed. I turned and asked if he wanted 8th and Nicollet. He said "Yeah, 8th and Nicollet." He just sat there and I said "This would be your stop." He looked around as if I were dropping him off on Mars. Finally, something must have looked familiar through his foggy eyes and he woke up the girl and they managed to get off the bus. I was actually more than a little surprised that they didn't fall down the steps.

I think that tape should be pulled (everything on the bus is audio/video recorded) and they should use it as proof that drugs kill brain cells...lots of them!


I've been driving the 18 this week. There are a lot of characters on this route. Yesterday, I picked up this goofy guy who was really strange. He was wearing a pair of blue jean overalls that were cut off into quite short shorts. He was dancing and singing at the bus stop as I pulled up. When he headed for my bus, I thought "Oh least he's in a good mood."

He got on with his Starbucks plastic cup of ice water. I'm guessing he couldn't afford a REAL drink there but wanted to fit in with the yuppies. It was a failed attempt. He was loud and obnoxious and took forever to find his fare. First he said he was going to "20th and Nicollet". There is no such thing. 20th is actually called Franklin Avenue. Since it was less than a mile away, he seemed to think it would be a free ride. When I told him what the fare was, he eventually pulled out a free ride coupon and paid his fare.

I tried to ignore him the best I could. This is one time I really don't mind calling out streets. It makes me look busier and is a legitimate distraction to the goofs that are often in the peanut seat seeking attention. When I got to Franklin, a lady that was getting off leaned over to me and said "That mans' penis is hanging out!" I looked over and she was right. There it was peeking out a couple inches from his too short overalls. It was just laying there on the seat, staring at everyone. I put a little bass in my voice and looked him right in the eye and said sternly "Sir, you need to cover up." He said "What?" I dipped my eyes to his lap and returned a stern stare to his eyes and repeated "Sir, you need to cover up, NOW." He looked down and saw the lil' guy hanging out and tucked it away saying "Oh my god! I'm sorry. OH, that is so embarrassing!" I continued to drive and ignore him as he went on about how embarrassing that was. When he noticed the event was not getting further attention he got off the bus...this was actually at the very next stop.

I continued on as though nothing had happened. What else can you do? Nearly a mile away when a guy was getting off at Lake street, he leaned over to me and said "That man was ridiculous, you should have called in on him!" The man got off too quickly for me to defend myself. Call and say what? There's no way to prove he did it intentionally, though I still think he did it for attention. He got off a block later so the "threat" was gone. I think I handled it well. I didn't draw any extra attention to the situation and seeing as no one could prove he did it on purpose, there was no need for police. I've run over it a few times in my head and still think I did the right thing.

You be the judge...what would YOU have done. Keep in mind that he acted as though it was not intentional...even if I think it was. Also, he got off a block later. The only thing I feel I could have done (hindsight is 20/20) would have been to call it in as "information only" so they could send a text out to drivers in the area in case he did it again. He'd be more likely to be arrested for indecent exposure if it wasn't a one time thing.

You be the judge.
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