Sunday, February 24, 2008


Thursday I was enjoying the 6 route before my long three day weekend. Then rush hour hit. All the Nicollet buses were detoured onto Hennepin. I was coming from the U of M and was perfectly on time until I hit 4th street. The buses were packed from corner to corner on Hennepin and when I looked down 4th street it was even worse. They were backed up as far as you could see. I have NEVER seen it like this. I sat there wondering what the hell happened? Bad accident? Fire? Intersection continually blocked by idiots wanting to be the last one through?

About 15 minutes later, when I got TWO BLOCKS further, I saw part of the problem. The Nicollet buses were trying to turn onto 6th street to get back over to Nicollet. They were averaging ONE bus per light and then the one behind him would get stuck in the intersection pulling the idiot move of trying to be the last one through.

Most of my passengers were understanding, though as confused as I was. One loser did tell me to pass the other buses. I tried to explain that there was no where to go if I tried to pass. I couldn't pass the bus stops and passing on Hennepin is illegal in the bus lane.

After we got up to 7th street and things were getting back to normal, I noticed the traffic coming toward me. It was even worse. Eventually, I saw that it was backed up bumper-to-bumper in all three lanes all the way down to 16th street! That was unreal. I heard there was a game at the Target Center. I guess that didn't help traffic matters during rush hour either.

In the future, I would suggest that Metro Transit do our part by continuing the detour all the way from Washington to 11th/12th streets like we normally do. I think this would have made a HUGE difference in the whole traffic jam situation.

For those of you that were rude and mad at the bus drivers...shame on you. I'll let you know I spent the next few hours trying to catch up to my schedule...that means NO breaks and no stretching of the legs or trying to relax. People were getting on that didn't know what happened and were angry with it was my fault. For every minute we are late, that is a minute off our breaks. Being about 20 minutes behind, as I was due to the traffic, I got NO break for 3-4 hours.

For you patient people on the bus...THANK YOU! It's nice to see some people understand that there ARE situations beyond the bus drivers' control! Thanks, also, to those of you that boarded with their fares ready and who were quick to get on and off the bus. Especially, to those that use the BACK door when you see people waiting to board. This helps us to catch back up to our schedules. You are very much appreciated.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


I was driving the 23 route and pulled into the light rail station. There was a spanish speaking guy that hurried onto the bus to tell me he lost his wallet on the train. I tried to explain to him that they won't stop the train to find it, but they will check for lost and found at the end of the line. I called the Control Center and explained the situation and they said they'd contact the train and let them know to look for the wallet.

A lady on the bus was telling the poor guy how it was stupid to have his credit cards in his wallet. I was thinking...where else do you carry them? I gave the guy the number to lost and found, feeling it was pretty much a sure bet that someone else would find his wallet and take it before the train made it all the way downtown. I told him he may want to contact his credit card companies and let them know what happened in case someone else found his wallet before we did. He thanked me for being so helpful. I saw he was carrying flowers (it was Valentines Day) so I thought I'd lighten the mood and said "Well, you got the flowers! At least you won't be in trouble when you get home." He laughed and thanked me again before he got off the bus.

I was pleasantly SHOCKED when the Control Center called a few minutes later asking if the guy was still on the bus. I told them he wasn't. He said they had found the wallet. I couldn't believe it. I was so happy. He was such a nice guy. Good things happen to good people.


I was driving the route 23 one day last week. I had a guy get on that was on my bus earlier the same day. He said "Hey, you're the same driver!" I said "Yes, I know. They told me to keep an eye on you so I'm following you." He laughed and sat and talked for a while. This route takes the scenic route to Uptown Station so he decided to get off at Lake street and walk up the two blocks in hopes of catching another bus.

After he got off, I realized that he hadn't taken his transfer. I had popped one up and he sat down so I assumed he didn't need one. I threw it out.

It was my last trip so I was pulling up to the Hennepin avenue side of the Uptown Station. I saw the guy across the street in the shelter. I popped up another transfer and went to give it to him. His back was towards me as I walked in the door. I walked up behind him and said " I told you I was following you." He turned around and looked confused. It was hilarious. I handed him the transfer and told him he forgot to take one when he had gotten on my bus. He said he realized that about a block after he got off and thanked me about three or four times for bringing him one.

I'm not sure if I made his day or if he made mine!

Route 2

As I explained to my sister, the 2 route has crackheads on one side of the route and college students on the other. It makes for an interesting day.

On the crackhead side, there are also more than a few drunks. They ride down Franklin Avenue to this one liquor store. I had two guys get on that were so drunk they could barely stand up. They paid with their transfers and settled in about mid-bus for the short ride to the liquor store. The one guy said to the other "I don't think they'll serve me. I'll just wait for you at the bus stop. Get a gallon and a case of beer." A GALLON??!!?? I just laughed to myself and let them off at their stop.

I was kind of bumming on my way back around. I had noticed, as I did every return trip, the depressing view over the Washington Avenue bridge. On the shore is the twisted metal that once supported the 35W bridge. As you probably know, the bridge collapsed last August and killed some people (13 I think) and severely injured many others. It was a mini 9/11 for all of us here in Minneapolis. Not a happy day. It makes your heart sink to see the twisted metal down there like an impossible jigsaw puzzle that can never be put together again. It is a painful reminder of a very sad day.

My spirits lifted a while later as I pulled up to the bus stop and the drunks were there. I was surprised to see neither was carrying a case of beer or a not-so-discreet brown bottle bag. I figured that neither of them was served. I was quite shocked, as this store is known for serving anyone that can stagger to their counter.

They boarded the bus and seemed stangely happy. Most drunks get pretty grumpy if you don't give them their booze. They walked all the way to the back of the bus and then I knew what was up. Sure enough, a couple blocks later, one of the guys pulls a big bottle of Vodka out of his jacket and starts to open it. I got on the microphone and said "Put that bottle away or you'll be off this bus in a heartbeat!" He looked shocked and quickly put the bottle back in his jacket. A couple of the other passengers laughed quietly. I heard one say to the guy sitting next to him "She's ON IT!"

It's always good to let your passengers know you DO know what is going on on the bus!


I had the neatest kid on my route 2 bus a couple weeks ago. I had the route for 4 ten hour days and he got on every day, usually twice. The first day he got on and told me he had to get over to the U of M to see his mom but he didn't have the 50 cent fare. I tried to weigh him out to see if he was one of those kids that did that all the time. He seemed sincere so I gave him a stern warning "Don't make a habit out of it." and let him ride.

Strangely, he sat right up front in the peanut seat. He chatted all the way. He told me he had a dog, cat, guinea pig and gerbil and he got $10 a week for taking care of them. He also told me he goes to a Kids Club where they do activities, watch movies and generally keep kids off the streets and out of trouble. He lives in a pretty rough area, so I thought that was great.

The kid got on one day and I had a bus full of college students. He sat and talked politics with one guy. It was pretty interesting to hear this little boy and how smart he really was. Not all of his facts were correct, but he was very bright. We all got to talking about the democratic candidates and he said everyone should vote for Obama 'cuz we needed a black president. I explained to him that I would never vote for anyone just because of their race or gender. That just doesn't make sense. I told him I had been leaning towards voting Obama until I took an internet poll and he actually came out LAST on seeing the issues like I do. That shocked me. I told the kid it is most important to find a candidate that sees things the way you do. I told him I planned to do more polls and listen more closely to whoever the final 2 candidates are to make sure I vote for someone that sees things closest to the way I do. He seemed to get it.

Then the kid started talking about a summer job he was looking forward to...keep in mind he is only 11 years old. He just seemed so eager and energetic. I told him he was a really neat kid and asked him if he was up for adoption. He laughed and said "not yet". I told him he was only a tax write-off for another 7 years so he should keep in touch. He just grinned at me.

Some lady in a wheelchair was getting ready to board. I was putting the lift down and the kid ran back and flipped up the seats for me. He guided the lady in, which I thought was cute and the lady never did it before. I strapped her in and thanked the kid for his help. I said "Remember the other day when you got on and didn't have your fare?" He looked kind of sad and guilty and said "Yeah, I'm sorry about that." I told him "That's OK, some kids try and do that all the time and I see you just were having one bad day. It happens to all of us. I just wanted to apologize if I made you feel bad. You're a great kid." He perked right up and said "Thanks!" I knew he rode twice a day so I said that it was really nice of him to help with the seats and I had something for him. I gave him a transfer that was good for 24 hours. He thought that was great. He did the math out loud as he figured out he could go see his mom AND come back all on that same transfer. I told him to make sure he held onto it. He just gleamed and said "Oh, I will!"

A couple people that seemed to enjoy the kid as much as I did told me what a nice thing I did for him as they got off the bus. They were all smiles and appeared to have been touched by such a small act of kindness.

The next day the kid got on twice with his transfer. It didn't have a wrinkle in it. He told me he was on his way to the Kids Club and thanked me again for the transfer. I told him it was great being his driver, but I'd be on to another route and may not see him for a while. I told him to stay the neat kid he was and...yes, I'm a sucker for good kids...I gave him another 24 hour transfer.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


I was driving the 17 route the other day. Just as I was about to turn from Hennepin onto 24th street, I looked left and saw a guy running for the bus. He ran right into the street and came within inches of getting smashed by a car. He stopped on a dime and he hopped back toward the curb. He looked happy to be alive, but scared he was going to miss the bus. I pulled over as I motioned for him to take his time, I'd wait.

A guy sitting in the peanut seat told me I was a nice driver. He said most drivers would have kept going. I confessed to him that it is all about the schedule and I happen to be running right on time so I could afford to wait. I told him if I was running late, I would have had to keep going. He still insisted I was a great driver and said he was going to call in and tell my job how wonderful I am. He repeated my driver number a few times as though he was trying to remember it. I thanked him in advance for calling. I told him that we do get called in and given a commendation (a note in our file, basically) when someone calls and says good things about us.

Finally, the could-have-been-killed-a-minute-ago guy crossed the street safely and got on the bus. He thanked me for waiting. I shook my finger at him and said "Don't be a hood ornament!" He laughed and said "Yeah, that was pretty stupid, huh?" I told him what the peanut seat guy and I had been discussing as we waited for him...How it would suck bad enough to be hit by a car, but with the wind chills around 20 below zero, it would REALLY suck for it to happen today.

Mr. almost-a-hood-ornament agreed and thanked me again. I just wanted him to think twice next time he ran for a bus.

Lesson for today....It's not worth death or severe injury...don't run into the street to catch a bus. There will be another bus. Better late and in one piece than forcing your loved ones to plan your funeral. DON'T BE A HOOD ORNAMENT !
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