Friday, January 09, 2009

MINTY FRESH

More fun on the 18!! I had a guy sitting in the back of the bus when I got all the way to the E terminal...which is at 104Th street. I don't know where this guy got on, but he had potentially ridden 100 blocks. I don't like people on the bus with me at my layover. Sometimes you need a little "alone" time...make a personal phone call, enjoy some peace and quiet to read the paper, do your bus check without letting total strangers get between you and the door...whatever, just need to have a little time alone. Fortunately for me, my layover was going to be a whopping 2 minutes. I had also picked up another guy that wanted to ride to the end and go the other way. That irritates me, too. Why not just catch the bus in the going the direction you want to go??!! I'm sure THEY get breaks at work...bus drivers need them too!!

Anyway, the guy that had just gotten on was cool. The other guy didn't seem too annoying. He was quite mellow as I asked him where he was trying to go as I walked to the back to check for lost and found, bombs and fresh graffiti. He said he was going downtown. I told him, in the future, he needed to get on a bus going in the direction he wants to go. I didn't tell him this part, but I know one driver that was hijacked and heard of another that was raped at their layover spots. I look at it as not only an "I need a break...alone" issue but a very serious driver safety issue. In fact, if the other guy hadn't gotten on, I probably wouldn't have gone to the back to check out the bus.

The guy in the back rode all the way downtown...again, over 100 blocks!! He was totally out of it by the time I had gotten to the last bus stop. I was yelling and whistling and trying to wake him up. I stayed in the front of the bus for my own safety. I don't touch people like that. Too many times, I've seen them jump up fighting when they wake up. I called to have the Transit Police take him off the bus. The Control Center asked what was wrong with him. I had no idea. I told them he seemed to keep nodding off like a person on heroin does but that he didn't seem like that at the other end of the line. I told them he was breathing but I didn't know what was causing his problem. I got off my bus and went to talk to the other bus driver on layover in the same lot. He seemed a little concerned when he had to leave. The police hadn't arrived yet and I was going back to my bus. I shook up my pepper spray and told him I'd be fine. I also had my ice scraper (the equalizer, as I call it) near my bus seat. It has about a foot long wooden handle with a large metal scraper blade on the end.

A police officer showed up and I told him I had figured out the mystery. Upon returning to my bus, I decided the guy was out of it enough for me to check most of the bus for lost and found...etc. By the time I got about halfway through the bus, I noticed a nice, minty fresh smell. Turns out the guy was DRINKING Listerine!! There was a HUGE bottle next to him, falling out of a plastic bag. I have never seen a bottle so big. It was more than family size. It was like share-it-with-your-neighbors size! It was about two thirds gone. The officer had a hard time waking the guy and getting him to his feet. He practically had to drag him. Sucked that he was a single officer car. He could have used a buddy. He managed to get the guy out to the squad car. I brought the bag with the Listerine out to him. I told him "Thanks for doing what you do!!" and was on my way.

9:30 in the morning and totally wasted on Listerine. What a life!! No, thanks!

18 Comments:

Blogger ldfs said...

We used to get a lot of guys like this at the downtown Mpls public library, when I worked there. They'd go in restrooms and pass out from drinking Listerine that they bought at the Walgreens down the street. Then eventually some innocent person who just wanted to use the bathroom would alert the staff to their presence and we'd have to call the police.

3:31 PM  
Blogger John Charles Wilson said...

I remember the old Walgreens at 4th and Nicollet. Drugstores sell more Listerine on Sunday than any other day of the week... I'm sure you can guess why!

As to riding around the end of the line, King County Metro (Seattle) allows this but requires all passengers doing so step off the bus until it's time to start up again.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Ree said...

Idfs - then they'd come out and get on the bus...I'd bet!

John - They could chug a cup of wine for free on sundays if they'd go to church...make the rounds...
It's hard to make them get off the bus when the weather is bad or it is really cold. They just need to get on in the direction they are going and know the bus is not somewhere to camp out.

11:04 AM  
Blogger John Charles Wilson said...

Actually a better way to get free wine is go to events at art galleries. Of course you can't be nasty/obnoxious....

I agree it's best to get on in the direction you're going, however in bad weather there may be times when you miss the bus going the right way and it's less of a wait to go the "wrong" way first. I do think that's a valid reason to ride around.... In addition I sometimes go for recreational trips as a transit fanatic. Some rush hour only routes only have one opportunity to get back to the inner city the same day and it involves riding the same bus back. Fortunately, that's not the case as much anymore as many suburbs have gone to all-day service (MVTA was rush hour only until the Mall of America opened). I would only do that if it was the only way I could ride a certain route, otherwise I found it too embarrassing....

One thing about the Seattle rule is extreme weather is pretty rare there, though this year it's been awful. Normally, rain is all they have to worry about.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Ree said...

John - yeah, the other guy that had gotten on near the end of the line knew I was the next one going back downtown. I would prefer he just stay home until I came around. Like I said, it's nice to have a break from people to make a private phone call or just have some time alone. My bigger concern is driver safety. I still say, people don't need to be on with us at our layovers. We deserve a break. Especially, when you deal with some of the people we deal with for 8-10 hours a day. Thanks for your comment. (I think you are on my blog more than I am!! Welcome!)

12:35 PM  
Blogger John Charles Wilson said...

OK, if he was coming from home or somewhere where he could have stayed out of the weather I agree he should have waited for you to come around the right direction.

I agree 100% about the break and safety issue. Of course, if the ends of bus lines were in safer places (with bathrooms!)....

I don't know what Twin Cities Metro's policies are but I think you have a right (morally, if not legally) to require the patron to step off the bus for the duration of the layover and reboard at departure.

Thanks! My comrades Carol and Michael said they think they know you. Are you a friend of another driver named Mary who got yelled at for singing on the job?

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My kidnapping episode still has it,s effect on me, now that another court date is set for the 21st, It,s been like going back in time, The route I drive ends at Rosedale, the other end ends in dt under a bridge, I can,t force my self to drive any farther then 5th & broadway, where this started, It,s been a nightmare of a route so far! I often find my self alone with 1 person on with me ( very low ridership ) anxiety comes more often these days, Jeanie, if ever you are uneasy in a situation, DO NOT CONTINUE TO THE END UNTILL A COP MEETS YOU! at that point a schedule is the least impotant issue, YOU ARE! He might still be off the streets, but.......... He,s not the only one! I love your stories, they keep me going to work, thank you

2:49 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Ree said...

John - Yep. I know Mary. She's always singing! Nice lady.

Anon - I'm usually pretty careful...and lucky! I thought that guy was let out due to a "technicallity"...court screw up. Did they re-arrest him? Hope so. Good luck in court. I hope they lock him up for a long time.
Glad U enjoy the stories! I left a comment on the bitch story..hope to get some stories from you!!

7:43 PM  
Blogger minneapolismayor said...

Anon-Obviously you're on #65 and I'd agree that having their buses end under the Hwy 52 (structurally deficient, soon-to-be-demolished) bridge is a stupid idea. I think theres some 21 buses that end there too. However, to keep midday buses on schedule (and keep the route to 3 buses at a time), they end closer to the downtown core, on Jackson or something. If this is a real safety issue for you and no one seems to be riding past Jackson, you should tell your supervisors and see if they can terminate the route on Jackson at all times. This wouldn't be much of a hardship for riders, because Rt 63 serves the area by the bridge and runs more often than 65 and of course all St Paul routes do the timed transfers. I would feel safer at Rosedale because there's almost always other buses and passengers (witnesses) at the end of the line--#84 runs 20 hours a day-65 does not. You may want to scout out the layovers on other routes in preparation for your next pick.

As for passengers on the bus at layovers, I think drivers do deserve some time to themselves. I also think it's easier to provide it when the layover is not actually a bus stop--for example, the old Nicollet Hotel block where the 18 and 675 end downtown. The 18 has three stops on the block, but the actual layover area is not a stop. All riders are supposed to get off at the 3rd St at Hennepin stop.

Transit hubs provide this as well, and they allow the passengers to wait in a sheltered area. It's most difficult in the 18E-like situations, where the last/first stop is the same as the layover AND it's in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps if they built more shelters...yeah, good luck with that.

John-I've ridden some routes "just to ride them" as well, but I never expect to stay on the bus during layovers. Often, I just get off and walk a bit, then get on the same bus after it turns around. I don't find it embarrassing, though; I doubt the drivers much care why you're riding as long as you pay the fare and don't cause trouble. They do have a life, you know.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will go back to picking the 16 line next pick, it is my favorite route, fast paced, lots of people, good layover locations, lots of funny people and situations, the day just flys! a news alert on the 65. the pretty blue lights on the small x-mas tree on Dale and north of Larpenter were taken down. nothing to look at now. it,s a long lonesome road.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Ree said...

Minn - I don't know much about St. Paul. Seems you should be Stpaulmayor!! Thanks for giving us some space at the layovers...we truly appreciate the alone time!

Anon - 16 = too many people with too many issues!! Good luck with that!

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had to take myself off this route this week, there,s 6 weeks left! A court date was hard, no sleep, new dreams, being alone for too long with some creep, Two near misses with cars, not calling streets, passing people up at corners. I made a new dr. app. 2010! I hope it will end!Looking forward to new work soon!, more stories coming soon for your book, Jeanie if you want more details send me a note at East Metro garage 9204

6:59 PM  
Blogger minneapolismayor said...

Wow, hope you get thru this ok, anon. That said, I'd be *pissed* if you missed my stop :)

Anyway, what do you drivers think of this http://www.startribune.com/local/east/39118717.html story in which a #375 driver snoozed at a P&R while waiting for his trip to start, leaving angry suburban riders in the cold. Bob Gibbons says "Customers should be able to board as they choose." and that " passengers are allowed to board buses whenever the driver is present."

Apparently this guy is in hot water and this is likely why many drivers leave the bus at the end of the line, because if they are on board and refuse to board passengers, they can get in trouble. What think?

11:09 PM  
Blogger minneapolismayor said...

According to Fox--the bus agency is considering "Compensating" the "victims" of this incident.

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The big mstake he made, pulling up to the loading zone, and as people left their cars to get on the bus,and he went to lay down, He could of stayed back like everyone else does, the people there wait untill the buses pull up, they understand why some buses sit back, the driver did this to piss these people off! It,s not his first time

7:55 AM  
Blogger Jeanne Ree said...

Anon - I put a flyer up on the board at each garage...big blue and multi-color "wanted" sign on top. Please send e-mail stories to me at the address on the flyer...or there is a PO box or interoffice mail. Just DON'T put them on this site. I only want new, unseen stories for the book. Thanks!

Hopefully, a new route will help ease your mind. I think you'd be best off on the "yuppie" routes. The 3 digit ones that have mostly business people instead of the inner city stuff. Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

Minn - I think people need to realize.. bus drivers are people too. We need a break, a little time alone. If you are TWENTY MINUTES early for the departure time, you shouldn't expect to board the bus. It's a park and ride...wait in your car if it's cold. I will usually just leave the bus if I need a break. Then people get the hint.

Compensation??? That's ridiculous. How about a bus schedule with the departure time highlighted ?

10:19 AM  
Blogger minneapolismayor said...

Yeah, well, that's not what the administrators are claiming. At any rate, it is possible that the policy is different on this route. This route, (I checked the schedule) is a inbound-only morning route. That means that the driver is sent to the end of the line with the possible expectation that they spend several minutes loading passengers and then leave at the departure time. This would mean that if s/he were to not board prior to the departure time, that would make the trip late and possibly get the driver in trouble. If the driver on this route regularly allows passengers on to wait whenever they're there, then maybe they expect it. Keep in mind this was specifically stated to not be the regular driver for the route. He didn't know the program, and unlike some of the routes you drive, this route probably has mostly the same people on the same bus every day. Should they get compensation, no, but perhaps this means drivers should get more specific instruction. Perhaps the driver got route trained for this route several years ago but very rarely drives it and forgot specific rules that were pointed out in the training. More likely, though, since these are wealthier suburbanites, who are more likely to call politicians with complaints, the administrators are going to do some CYA and if the drivers don't like it, oh well. My advice, if you don't want news stories about you, let wealthy suburbanites on the bus at the P&R or don't do routes that begin at one.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Ree said...

Minn - The policy is the same for all routes...regardless of the wealth or lack of wealth of the passengers. I heard this route actually has a spot to layover and a spot to board...two different spots. If the driver chose to sit in the boarding spot, he needed to let people board. I have never done this route, but have done other "yuppie" routes with the whole park and ride thing. It was never an issue for me. Most of these people get on and read and drink coffee. They are quiet. They aren't cussing, using cell phones loudly, playing music so loud you can name that tune through their headphones...etc. I have no problem with nice, polite, quiet people on my layover.

12:28 PM  

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