Sunday, January 13, 2008


I recently got an award from one of my passengers!

Okay, so it wasn't an official award given by my company, but more of an award this particular passenger came up with. It didn't come with a trophy or anything. It was more like a verbal award. Regardless, it made my day and I thought I'd share it with you.

It was December and it was REALLY cold out that day. The wind was nasty. I was driving route 6 out of downtown during rush hour. My bus was packed...I mean REALLY packed. I kept asking people to move as far back as possible. They did. They were practically sharing their laps. I just didn't want to leave people at the bus stop in that weather. I pulled up at 11Th street knowing it was about the last stop I would need to pick up people before they started getting off. There were only a couple people that needed to get on. I again asked for everyone to move as far back as they could and thanked them for doing so.

It was unusually quiet on the bus. I said something to the people standing in the front about how this was the quietest packed bus I've ever had. A couple laughed and one lady said it was because they were so packed in they couldn't breathe. That spurred a few more laughs.

As I was getting closer to Uptown and the crowd was thinning and becoming more comfortable, a man getting ready to get off the bus said to me. " Well, you get the award." I fell for it and asked what award that was. He said "For fitting the most sardines into a can!" As he exited, he laughed along with me and all the others that had heard him.

Thanks! I am proud to accept the award. I'd like to thank all those that made this award passengers that kept squeezing towards the back to help avoid leaving some poor soul to freeze at the bus stop waiting for the next...hopefully, less crowded, bus. I'd also like to thank the gentleman who came up with this award. It's nice to see people keep their sense of humor in a physically uncomfortable I'm sure my bus was that day.


I've been a magnet lately for stupid teenagers. Specifically, the ones that want to cheat on the fare by claiming to be 12 years old so they can pay only 50 cents.

In about mid-December, I had a teenage genius try and get on my bus at Uptown Station after midnight. By looking at him, I mentally guessed he was about 15-16 years old. He got on and put his train transfer in and I noticed he had paid a childs' fare. I knew there was no way he was only 12 years old. I told him he'd have to pay the correct fare. He got a "challenge me" look on his face and insisted he was 12 and just coming from his dads' house. I calmly asked him when he was born and he was stumped. He blurted out 1991 and I told him that put him at just what I suspected...15-16. He again insisted he was 12. Getting tired of the game, I told him either he WAS 12 and out way past curfew or he was 15-16 and cheating the fare and either way the police would be interested to chat with him. I told him to pay the fare or get off the bus. He called me a few cliche derogatory names and got off the bus.

More recently, I had a group of four teen boys try the same thing at the light rail station at 38th street. The first kid could have passed for 12, though I guessed he was more like 14 and just kind of wimpy. I let him slide. The next kid was about 6 feet tall and weighed about 225 pounds. I think he was large for his age, but I still guessed he was about 17. The other 2 were pretty average height and size and both looked to be about 16-17. I told the big guy he had to pay the correct fare. He asked what I meant and I told him that transfer he bought at the train was for 6-12 year olds. He claimed he was 12. I laughed and said "Sure, so am I." He looked at me with an attempt at a threatening glare and asked how I knew he wasn't 12. I replied "Because I'm not stupid." I told him he'd have to pay the fare or get off the bus. He got off the bus. His not-so-bright friend behind him tried the exact same thing. I asked him if he didn't notice it didn't work for his friend and he wasn't about to get away with it either. He got off and the ultimate in stupid, teen number three, actually tried to put his bogus transfer in the farebox. I just gave him an "Are you kidding me?" look and he got off the bus. Then the could-pass-for-twelve kid walked by me and off the bus. He actually kicked the back side of the bus as I pulled away.

I did call in on the last group. There was a half hour between buses as it was and I figured if the cops didn't make it in time at least the next driver would be given a heads-up so they wouldn't get away with it.

It's hard to believe I was ever that stupid. Reality hurts!

Thursday, January 03, 2008


I was one of the unlucky ones that had to drive the bus on the night of New Years Eve. I drove until about 2:30 AM... into New Years Day. What fun.

I knew I was in for an interesting night when I realized I was doing the 6 route. It goes through Uptown, Downtown and Dinkytown (through the U of M campus area). All areas have more than their fair share of bars. Oh yeah.

My first group of characters were three was a Marine on leave. When I opened the door they stood there with their plastic cups. I informed them they needed to have lids on their cups if they were bringing them on the bus. Smelling the stench of beer I said "They ARE non-alcoholic drinks, right?" They slammed their beer and threw the cups under the bus, like I didn't see that. I had to remind them a couple times not to use foul language...usually I only give one warning and then kick them out. I couldn't bring myself to do that to a Marine on New Years Eve so I cut them a little slack.

Later I got a group of about a dozen very loud college students heading back towards the U. They were all very drunk. One girl with the highest pitch voice I've ever heard sat in the peanut seat and loudly asked me stupid questions repeatedly. My ears were relieved when they got off!

The funniest part was the very last trip. I was in the bus line-up downtown at 2 AM. (The buses line up for 10 minutes so people can make connections) Needless to say, I was the only sober person on that bus. This particular trip only went to 36th and Hennepin, not the usual trip that ends up in Edina. They were happy drunks, for the most part. Then I picked up 3 VERY drunk guys in Uptown (6 blocks from the end of the trip). The first guy put in his stored value card and it was a quarter short. I told him "close enough" as the other two staggered on behind him and plopped down in the back of the bus. I told them they needed to pay their fare like everyone else. They made no attempt to come up and do so. Suddenly, the entire bus load of people turned on them. "Yeah, your fare like we all did." "If you can afford that scarf around your neck, you can afford to pay your fare." (????????) "Kick them off, driver!" "She's gonna call the cops!"

The guy that paid most of his fare came up and asked how much they owed. I told him $4 all together and he proceeded to pay their fares as the passengers continued to give him hell. I came to his defense telling them that he actually did pay his fare and now he was paying for his buddies. That seemed to calm them down. I had really never gotten so much "support" before. It was hard not to laugh, actually.

As I approached 36th street I made the announcement "LAST STOP 36th street". The panic began. I still had about 10 people on my bus. "You don't go to Edina?" "Don't you go to 50th and France?" I told them 36th was the last stop but I would be going over to Nicollet and back down to 32nd and they could ride along if that helped them out. I also offered to drop them off at a gas station on the way that was open if they wanted to call a cab. Some got off at 36th and the rest got off at the gas station. Hindsight being 20/20, I really should have called the Control Center and asked if I could get them out to Edina. I had already worked over 10 hours and had more drunks than I cared to see and just wanted to go home, so I really didn't think about it until later. I haven't read of anyone frozen into Lake Calhoun or anything, so I'm guessing they all managed to get where they were going.

Lesson for the day: If your going to get fall-down drunk...know the bus schedule...or call a cab!


I was the recipient of a random act of kindness and generosity recently.

I was driving the route 6 out of downtown during rush hour. I was very busy and traffic was heavy. I had a fun bunch on my bus and we were all chatting as I slowly inched my way into the Uptown Station. As the bus came to a stop, I saw a pair of mitten covered hands reaching around the plastic barrier on my right side. I looked up and saw a 20-something girl handing me something. It was a candy cane and something I couldn't quite make out. She said "Merry Christmas!" Through my surprise, I managed to say "Thank you, that's so nice."

Later, I had a chance to see what the other thing was. It was a $10 gift card that was actually a funny type of wind-up flashlight. On the packaging it said "To a nice bus driver from a passenger. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!"

I am still kind of touched by this. It was a pleasant surprise and very much appreciated. The thought was really what counted. It feels good to be appreciated, and the gift also came in handy!
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