Monday, September 29, 2008


Contest starts TODAY!!

The first person to find me driving my bus and say the phrase "Does your mother know you're picking up strangers?" is the winner!!

Here's a helpful hint...I work from about 230PM to about 1230AM today and tomorrow. That gives you TEN hours to find me!

Winner will receive their choice of either an original "Picking up Strangers" t-shirt or large beer stein and a "Picking up Strangers" pin. If you aren't the first person to find me, you will receive a pin as a consolation prize (while supply lasts).

You can read my past blogs for clues on what routes I drive and what I look like. Heck, if you're riding a bus, just say the phrase to the driver and see if it's me!

Friends, family and co-workers are not eligible...that just wouldn't be fair!



Sunday, September 28, 2008


I suck. I went from 12th place last year to 23rd this year!!! I don't know what happened. I have never done so terrible...not even in practice on my first try the first year!! Oh well, I got my t-shirt, pin and cool cap so I'll get over it.

My co-horts from Hecklers Row also competed. One got best of our garage and placed 6th overall. She sucks...gonna have to beat her next year. The other two did worse than me, I think. In all fairness, one had a mechanical issue and the other was doing the Roadeo for the first time. The good thing is, we won't have to try too hard next year to improve on our scores! You always have to look for the bright side.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Have you ever noticed how people follow others lead, even when they don't realize it?

I was driving the 18 just getting onto the Nicollet Mall when I noticed a ton of firetrucks blocking the entire mall between 5th and 6th streets. I called Control and told them I'd have to go off route and would go over to Hennepin on 4th street and come back to the mall on 6th if it looked like I could. As I was approaching the mall on 6th street, there were even more big ladder trucks and emergency vehicles just past the mall. We were sitting at the red light waiting to turn onto the mall. A bunch of us on the bus were trying to guess what was going on. We noticed a lot of people looking up at the skyscraper that was surrounded by the emergency vehicles. I twisted my neck to try to see as far up as I could. Many people on the bus were trying to get a good view too...all of us looking up.

I realized what a funny sight this was. The people in the front seats and I shared a laugh. There didn't appear to be anything to see. No jumper. No flames shooting out. Just a bunch of people on the mall looking up. We finally decided they were all looking up for the same reason we were. They saw other people doing it! Made ya look!

Monkey see, monkey do!


I try to avoid driving the 18 route. Too many people with too many issues. Unfortunately, I've been driving it about 4 hours a day this week. It is earlier in the morning so most are the good business people just trying to get to work. It gets to be a different, more challenging crowd later in the day and at night. I did have one scam that I had only seen in memos happen the other day.

Two guys got on at 18th and Nicollet. They were probably in their early 20's. Didn't seem to be trouble at first glance. The first guy put in one "coin" and it registered as 5 cents. I looked in to see if it was a nickel and he said it was a token. Our tokens are about the size of a nickel but I'd never seen one register as a nickel before. They are silver around the outside with a copper colored center. I tried to see what he had put in, but it was in a dark spot and I couldn't see it clearly. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and popped up a transfer for him.

His buddy put in his "token" and the same thing happened. Unfortunately for them both, this one landed right in the light and it was CLEARLY a washer. I showed it to them in the window and told him that what they just did was illegal and, at a minimum, they could each get a $180 ticket. I told them to pay the fare or hop off the bus. The first loser claimed it was an accident. Sure. Both of them happened to be walking around with washers in their pockets and they each accidentally put one in the fare box. I told them to pay the fare or get off the bus. The first loser put in a token...a REAL one...and asked for a transfer. I told them I had one fare paid and had given out one transfer already to his friend. When I had another fare, I would issue another transfer. The other loser grumbled and paid and I popped up another transfer.

Thinking the situation was over, I waited for the red light so I could continue on my route. As the losers walked to the back of the bus they loudly talked about what a bitch I was. I told them that kind of language was not allowed on the bus. The first loser said he was "grown" and I wasn't going to tell him how to talk. I told him profanity was not allowed and they weren't going to disrespect me and everyone else like that and ride on the bus. He spun out a few more fowl words and I told them to get off the bus, I was done. They sat there defiantly. I picked up the phone and called Control to have the cops take them off. We had gotten memos before about people putting washers and other items into the farebox so I figured this would be a good opportunity to get these two caught.

I sat there a good couple minutes. People on the bus were telling them I had called the cops and they better go. We glared at each other in the big inner rearview mirror. When they finally realized I wasn't joking, they cussed a little and went out the back door. Seeing how riled up they were getting prior to this, I had already had my pepper spray discreetly taken out, shaken up and ready to go. I put it back in the holder on my belt and was on my way.

Control finally called me back and I told them the situation was over and let them know what had happened. The asked for the descriptions and life went on.

On my way back on the next trip, an older lady got on. She was almost giddy. She said she was on the bus when I kicked those guys off and thought it was great. She said a lot of drivers threaten, but few follow through. She was impressed and happy to see a driver follow through. She was all smiles.

It was good to know some people appreciate when we stand up for what is right. She made my day.


Usually, the 24 is a nice quiet route. There's not usually any trouble. Not usually.

I was doing the 24 the other day and knew I was going to have a problem. I saw it coming. I just didn't know exactly what the problem was going to be until it happened.

My first clue came as I was driving down Franklin Avenue pulling up to the Chicago Avenue bus stop. As I crossed the intersection, I saw this guy across the street from the bus stop I was about to enter. He looked like he was thinking out loud, pointing in different directions and looking confused. Finally, he came running for my bus. Lucky me.

I noticed him standing to the side of the front door as people got off. He asked each one for a transfer. That didn't work. He got on and, much to my surprise, he put in the entire $2 rush hour fare. He was overly polite to me as he spoke in his very exaggerated manner. He then went and sat in the back of the bus...clue number two.

After we went a couple blocks, I heard clue number three...the unmistakable sound of a can being opened. It SOUNDED like beer. Then I saw him wiping off what had splattered on him. A block or so later, I smelled the faintest whiff of beer. I had to make a bus stop so as I did, I made an announcement over the speaker. "Open alcoholic beverages are not allowed on the bus." As expected, the guilty party instantly spoke up. "Oh, I'm sorry." I told him he'd have to get off the bus with his beer. As he wrestled the can of beer back into the see-through plastic bag he said "I'm not drinking any beer." To the shock of all the passengers, I said "I can SMELL it. You need to get off the bus." He began to try and tell my where he needed to go and I told him this was as far as he was going with an open beer. He again told me where he was trying to go. I told him if he'd have left his beer unopened, I could have gotten him there. Since he decided to open the beer, he was on his own.

Surprisingly, he got off the bus with no further argument. As people got off at their stops, a few asked me if I could REALLY smell the beer all the way up front. I told them I had a great smeller. They thought that was pretty funny.

I amaze myself sometimes!

Saturday, September 13, 2008


The bus Roadeo is coming up this month and I can't wait. It is basically an obstacle course you drive the bus through. It is very challenging...that's why I love it. I'm hoping to do better than I did last year. I think I placed either 12th or 14th...I don't remember.

Practice day is September 22nd and I plan to be there. I want to run the course as many times as I can so I can get a good feel for it. Then competition runs for the next three days after practice day. All four of us girls from Hecklers Row are competing on Thursday the 25th from 11:30 AM - 2 PM. It is open to the public, though we don't usually have a lot of onlookers. The course is on the State Fairgrounds on Como just a few blocks west of Snelling. Those of you that are local or are visiting the Twin Cities are welcome to come check out our skills!

Wish me luck!


I was driving the 11 route down Nicollet Mall later one night last week. I pulled up to the bus shelter near 5th street. There were about 7-9 teenagers in the shelter. They were drinking booze straight from a large bottle, shooting dice for money, smoking cigarettes and one kid was even rolling up a "blunt". This was all very open, like it was alright to do.

At first, I really didn't think all that much about it. I may even have had a flashback or two to my own teen years. Then the bus in front of me pulled off and I noticed a handicapped man and woman just past the shelter who were waiting for my bus. The lady walked down and boarded my bus. She asked me to pull up and pick up her husband. He had a very large shiny wooden cane about 2 inches in diameter. He had pretty severe problems walking, so I can't imagine standing was easy for him either.

That's when I got angry. The lady was saying how they would have liked to sit in the shelter but the rowdy kids took up the whole thing. I moved the bus up a little so my door was directly in front of the shelter door. I opened my door and just sat there watching the wild teens. Finally, one of them realized they were being watched and tried, not so discreetly, to tell his friends. They turned to look at me. I shook my head and said "Smoking, drinking, gambling and rolling a blunt...all on camera." I pointed to the camera above my head that points out the door directly at them. I shook my head more and said "Really not a good idea. There are cameras all over downtown." (This is true. Police monitor them right from downtown so they can react quickly.) One kid smoking a cigarette took a step out of the shelter, smiled and apologized for smoking in the shelter. The one with the bottle of booze tried unsuccessfully to hide it by the side of his leg. His blunt-rolling buddy tried to hide his forbidden smoke next to his own leg. They apparently think next-to-the-leg is a good's not.

I moved the bus up and picked up the handicapped man. I was still upset that these people that obviously NEEDED to sit and wait for the bus were not able to use the shelter for its intended purpose because of these selfish kids. I called Control and told them of the situation and requested the police go take care of it. Besides, I'm sure it was past curfew and it was a school night.

As people got off at their stops, I believe about 4-5 of them thanked me for calling in on the kids. One lady even said that if one of her kids was out there doing that type of thing she hoped someone would call and have them stopped.

Like the old saying takes a village to raise a child.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Yesterday was my 8 year anniversary of being a bus driver. Imagine that! I still love my job. Not many people can say that after 8 years!

Our anniversary date is a paid vacation day. Since I was scheduled off for yesterday, I am enjoying today off instead. I was going to bank the day and use it later but then realized it is the Vikings season opener against the Packers. Heck, yeah! I'll get paid to watch that!



I am so glad the Republican National Convention is over and we can get back to normal!

I actually had to drive the 21 into downtown St. Paul on Tuesday. Not fun. Detours and traffic really messed up my schedule. On one specific trip, the police had the entire left lane of the bridge on Cedar blocked with their parked cars. That left us one lane to pass them to make our left turn onto 12th street. The idiots on 12th kept wanting to be the last ones through the light so we never got a chance to move when we had a green. I sat there a good 10 minutes when the cops started redirecting traffic behind me. Then an officer came to my window and said he thought I might have to back up. I just laughed and asked him "back up how and go where?" There was no where to go. He looked around behind me and saw why I was laughing. He smiled and said to wait and they'd see if they could get something moving. They stopped the traffic on 12th and finally let us just go. He's my hero!

I'm a little jealous of one of my co workers. She drove a police bus a couple times. (police use our buses and drivers to help them in certain situations.) She drove the police around and then used the bus to fill with arrested protesters to take them to jail. I told her to find me a husband. ; ) NO... not in the group of the group of cops! I like guys in uniform. She didn't have any luck for me on that little quest, but she had a ball driving the bus. It's fun to do the odd jobs.

I couldn't believe so many people were acting so crazy on that first night. Breaking big department store windows, slashing tires on police cars and news reporters vehicles, throwing urine and feces and just acting like hoodlums. And their message was...????????? The legitimate protesters were much more peaceful and respectable. Their messages were clear. Just goes to show how ineffective the riot mentality is. I hope they learned something.

I still don't know how I will vote. Neither candidate makes me jump up and say " Gee, I can't wait to see HIM in office!" I'll have to look into the issues that are important to me and see who lines up best with my views. Wish me luck!


I had a fun idea. I want to have a contest to see who can find me first.

I'm going to get some prizes like hats and t-shirts to give to the winners. I think it would be fun. I drive about 27 different routes...usually I am doing one of a core of about a dozen. People who read my blog would see when the contest starts and try and find me driving the bus. First one to find me and say the code word/phrase wins!

In reading my past blogs and comments, you can get an idea of what I look like (I'm easy to spot!) and what routes I am most likely on. Then, when I post the "find me" blog before going off to work on the day I pick to start this, you see if you can find me and win the prize. I plan to get the prizes from .

I'm ordering the prizes today, so the contest should start soon. It will run until there is a winner...could be hours, days, weeks...who knows. My co-workers, friends and family are not eligible to win. That just wouldn't be fair.

Stay posted. I'll let you know when to start looking for me! This should be fun!


There's a guy that rides the bus all the time. He's usually on the 18 or the 21. He "dresses up" all the time and usually wears red dress shoes. He reminds me of a throwback from Moby Dicks (the worst bar on Hennepin Avenue downtown back in the day). His outfits usually have a hint of a used-to-pimp-wish-I-still-could feel to them.

This guy got on my 21 last week. He had on a pin-striped suit with both matching jacket and pants. He left his pimpin' red shoes at home and chose a pair of dark dress shoes that day. He sat in the front side-facing seat on the passenger side and made conversation with some females. He likes to try and use big words that aren't appropriate for what he is trying to say. It's actually pretty funny when you insert the REAL meaning of the big word he is unsuccessfully attempting to use and you get a whole new meaning to his sentence. Comedy is everywhere!

As this guy made nonsense conversation with the females around him, one lady across the aisle from him made quite an observation and shared it..very loudly...with the rest of us. "That's a WOMAN'S suit !" There was about 2 seconds of silence followed by laughter from about 2-3 of the females. Everyone in the immediate area checked out the guys suit and some explained to him that the side the buttons are on proved it was, indeed, a woman's suit. He tried to hide any embarrassment by claiming he had it custom made for him by some clothing store we just happened to be driving by at that very moment. It was such a poor attempt to camouflage the fact that he probably got the suit at the Salvation Army or something that it was actually funny.

The people on the bus carried it on...and on...and on. One lady kept saying how she never would have noticed. Another said she noticed but never would have SAID anything out loud. They all laughed about the situation for blocks.

I'm sure I'll be seeing this guy again. Can't wait to see what he has on!
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