Sunday, October 21, 2007


I pulled into Southdale Mall on the 6 line the other day. About half a dozen teenage boys got on the bus. I greeted and thanked each one and they seemed pleasantly respectful in return. A few miles later, a guy came up and told me they were being loud and swearing. I had noticed the higher decibel levels coming from them in the back, but hadn't noticed the cussing. The guy seemed genuinely upset so I got on the microphone and warned them about their language and the noise level. They toned it down. I really couldn't tell if they were swearing or not, but I suspected they were. I don't react on mere suspicion, so I just kept and ear open. As I came to a stop at Franklin I heard the F word clear as day and even saw the guilty party.

I pulled up to the bus stop and opened both doors. I got on the microphone and said "Okay, that's enough. You've been warned. Your ride ends here. Have a good night." I sat and stared down the guilty kid in the mirror and he got up, rattled off a few not-so-choice words and got out the back door. I was more than a little shocked. I didn't think it was going to be that easy. He spit on the bus as I pulled off. His friends got a good laugh about that. Then something strange happened. The remaining kids seemed to want to distance themselves from each other. Two of them came all the way up front and sat across the aisle from each other. One said to the other "What, you don't think she'll kick you off if you're up here?" He laughed and continued to egg on his buddy. "I'm gonna make you cuss." The other kid just tried his best to ignore him. It was kind of funny. I could tell they weren't BAD kids. They were just kids out from under their parents watch seeing what they could get away with.

They behaved all the way downtown where they got off. Then a lady came up and said "That was very brave of you." I told her they didn't really seem like bad kids, but I admitted I was surprised how easily the one boy got off the bus when told to. She agreed and thanked me. Before she got off she thanked me again and told me again how "brave" I was.

I thought that was funny. When I think of bravery, I think of the people in the armed forces, or the police or firefighters...not bus drivers!


I was driving the 21 down Lake Street recently. I stopped at Lake and Blaisdell. There were 3 drunk people just waiting for me. How lucky am I? The guy is actually a regular rider that I recognized. He was the least drunk. Actually, even though he usually has been drinking, I've never really had a problem with him. He got on and paid his fare. Then the girl with him got on. She was staggering back and forth while trying to get her transfer into the slot. Eventually, she managed to do it. She was extremely drunk. Then the third person, a black female (the other two were American Indian), tried to get up the steps. She couldn't even manage the first step and then she realized she had no fare. I told her to have a good night and closed the door and left. The Indian lady went nuts. She started cussing and saying I left her there because she was black...not that it had anything to do with being fall-down drunk and not having a fare. "I guess if you're black, you're shit out of luck with this driver!" She claimed. I ignored being called a racist, though my blood was starting to boil. I tried to just continue driving but the "lady" yelled out something that had more cuss words than acceptable words in it. I got on the microphone and told her that language was not allowed on the bus, especially considering there were children on the bus. Within seconds, she let some more profanity fly. The people in the front just looked at me like "What are you gonna do?"

I said out loud "This isn't baseball, you don't get three strikes here." I called Control and told them the situation. Within a few blocks (at 5th avenue) the police car flew up behind me with the lights and sirens going. I pulled over and let the lone officer in the front door. By this time Ms. Nasty Mouth was silent and kind of dazed looking, staring blankly out the window. I pointed her out to the officer. He asked if the guy was with her. I said I thought he was, but that he was not a problem. I left both door open as the officer went back to confront the lady. The guy she was with got up and went out the back door. The officer stood and patiently told the lady she would have to get off the bus. She pretty much rolled her eyes at him and looked the other way. With more patience than I would have, the officer talked to her and told her again that she had to go. She refused and the officer started putting his leather gloves on. I knew what was coming next.

In one swift move, the officer grabbed the uncooperative drunk chick and picked her up by the front of her coat. That seemed to work. She started flailing her arms and yelling that he didn't have to F'en man-handle her. I just sat, watching in the mirror, thinking how she should have listened to him in the first place and just gotten off the bus. By now, she was trying to fight with him and he got her hand behind her back and got her to the back door. He basically used her nose to open the door and got her out of the bus. I wanted to stand and give him a round of applause but settled for closing the doors and continuing on my route.

The bus was silent. That is rare on the 21 line! I had a couple people thank me as they got off the bus. One lady said she wished more bus drivers would put their foot down like that so they'd feel safer and more comfortable on the bus. I agree with her. People can act like an ass in public if they want to, but once you are on the bus you need to show a little respect for those around turn showing respect for yourself.

Thanks again to the transit police for making the ride a better place for everyone. You all do a great job and a very much appreciated!!

Sunday, October 07, 2007


As I mentioned, I am driving the 18 route for another week. Last week, I noticed what an interesting view there is along this route.

As I was driving out of downtown Minneapolis on Nicollet Mall, the mixture of people was very interesting to me. There were the yuppies sitting on the sidewalk patios having their overpriced drinks, the sign people sitting on the corners with their not-so-original signs asking for money and the teenagers with their pants hanging off cussing and running around like kids do. Mixed in all this were the cops that hang out, mostly on 7th street and the cabbies that apparently can't read. (I've noticed they line up by a restaurant near the hotels at Grant and Nicollet and are always lined up so far back that at least 2 of them are in the zone CLEARLY marked "no stopping").

Once I past Grant street, the scenery changed a little. There were the classy, sharply dressed gangs of middle aged white people going to the show ( Isn't it called Triple Espresso?) . A little further and you have to dodge the customers that hang out at the African coffee/tea shop on the corner. They seem to think crosswalks are just pretty paintings in the street. The whole idea of crossing at the corner when traffic is clear seems foreign to them. Maybe it is.

As I continued south, I noticed a couple guys standing near a bus shelter, but they didn't seem to want the bus. Then I noticed a guy laying on the ground who appeared to be having seizures. I pulled over and asked the other guys if the guy on the ground needed an ambulance. They said they already called one so I drove off. A few feet away, I started thinking maybe those two guys beat the other guy up and I was considering calling for help anyway. Within a block , I heard the ambulance and watched in my rear view mirror as it pulled up next to the guy on the ground.

As I continued my scenic journey, I approached Franklin and Nicollet. You are pretty much guaranteed characters here. There are drunk Indians on the bus benches. (I realize this is a nasty stereotype, but I am just calling it as I see it. If you prefer inebriated Native be it. Heck, when I have too many, I'm a stereotype too...a drunken Irish chick. Deal with it!) There are usually a couple crackhead prostitutes stirred in with a few homeless people and a couple "normal" people that just want the bus to come so they can get the hell out of there. The REAL comedy is... they just built these two three story buildings at this intersection. They are expecting people to PURCHASE a condo and LIVE with this outside their door. There is a lovely view of the always busy liquor store and the constant entertainment from the characters on the corners. What more could you ask for?

Franklin is probably the most interesting corner until you get to Lake Street. What a view we have here. There is ALWAYS something going on. From the drunks and day laborers hanging out on the benches next to the Kmart driveway to the no-future-but-death-or-prison baggy-pants, crack-showing (and selling) gang bangers wandering around with no life and nothing to do but get into trouble to the honest, hard-working people just trying to get home before the sun goes down, there are always interesting people to watch here.

I used to wish I could get paid for people-watching.

I guess, in a way, I do.


As usual, the same three guys won the Roadeo again this year. I came in 12th. sounds good, but there were only about 55 contestants so it's not all THAT great. I did do better than I did last year. I came in 16th last year. Last year was my first Roadeo and since I got the highest score of all the first timers, I won "Rookie of the Year". Since you can only be a "rookie" once, now the only chance to win is by placing in the top three. The same guys seem to get those spots every year, so it is really going to be tough. Heck, if nothing else, I plan to compete every year for the practice until those guys retire and free up the spots!!! Just kidding, I actually plan to BEAT them...hopefully next year. The obstacle course is extremely challenging. I think that's why I like it.

A few of us decided to go cheer on the 2nd and 3rd place winners when they go to compete at the State Finals next year. We did it this year in Wilmar and had a great time. Next year, it is in Bemidji, which is a little further away. The girl that organizes things is looking into renting a cabin this time instead of a hotel room. That would be a blast. Might have to spend more than a couple nights there if we get the cabin.

It is kind of a bummer that we only get to do this once a year. I already want to try again but have to wait a whole year!! Until then, guess the best I can do is use pedestrians and cars as my cones and barrels to weave through. Hehehehe. Actually, hope I don't jinx myself, I am about due for my 7th CONSECUTIVE year safe driver award. That means I haven't run anybody over, yet!

*****taking a bow******
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