Sunday, March 22, 2009


I was driving the 21 route into downtown St. Paul. There were two teenage girls in the back talking a little loudly to each other. The bus was pretty full and everyone seemed to be talking, so I couldn't tell, but suspected the girls were cussing. As I got into downtown and the crowd thinned, my suspicions rang true. I heard them using the F word like it was one of the few words in their vocabulary. I got on the microphone and announced that profanity was not allowed on the bus. One girl said it didn't matter, they were getting off soon anyway. As I pulled out of the bus stop, the F bomb went flying again. There was no one behind me, so I immediately pulled back into the bus stop and told them to get out. They seemed surprised. I told them I had JUST told them not to cuss on the bus and I opened both doors and sat. When they realized I wasn't going anywhere, the potty-mouthed girl told her friend she'd meet her at the bus stop. The other girl said "I'll wait for you." The bad girl got off the bus.I proceeded to the bus stop in the next block. The other girl looked anxious as I passed the bus she wanted that was sitting at the bus stop with his flashers on. The 21 has a designated stop on the far side of the intersection. I pulled in slowly, secretly hoping she'd miss her bus. There has to be some kind of punishment!

I sat there as she ran for her bus, which had just pulled away from the curb. She ran two blocks and caught the bus. I laughed to myself as I thought of her "friend" that would be looking for her at the last bus stop. What a great friend. I guess "I'll wait for you" only means if you get there before the bus leaves! What a wonderful friendship.


I was picking up passengers in Dinkytown at the McDonalds stop. Most were college students, as usual. One was a drunk carrying a garbage bag filled, no doubt, with all his worldly goods. I recognized him as a pimp from the 1980's. He used to hang out at the notorious Moby Dicks bar on Hennepin avenue on what is now called Block E. He used to dress flashy and wear pimp shoes...whatever the most stylish skins were. Snake, gator or whatever. Seems the current recession even hits the pimps hard!

If you are wondering how I know this loser, I used to work downtown in an office in the 80's. After work I would meet my boyfriend at Mobys. They had very strong drinks and at night would open up the back area which had a dance floor and great music. We'd drink, dance and watch the colorful characters. There were a few other business people scattered among the pimps, hookers and drug dealers. It was better than TV!

Anyway, this drunk, homeless pimp rides into downtown. He keeps talking, mostly to himself, about negative and sometimes racist junk. (He is black and doesn't seem to want to share the world with anyone that isn't his skin tone.) Once he started cussing and singling people out to force conversation, I decided to put an end to his rants. I turned around in my seat and informed him that he wasn't allowed to cuss on the bus and he needed to leave other people alone. He backed down and apologized. As we crossed the light rail tracks, I heard him again using profanity. I pulled up to the bus stop and told him this was his stop. I told him I had warned him once and that this was not baseball and he did not get three strikes...this was it. He picked up his garbage bag and slowly wandered out the front door, mumbling all the way.

The other passengers were visibly relieved and some seemed to relax, sinking into their seats. I was glad he was off the bus with no altercation. You never know when someone is going to get physical. Unfortunately, it happens quite often. As I drove off, I looked at this old pimp. Drunk. Dirty. Walking down the street with a garbage bag full of whatever. Quite a difference from 20 years ago when he stood tall and flaunted around like a peacock with all those expensive clothes and shoes he had. Just goes to show you, fast money goes twice as can't count on someone else to make YOUR living...there's no future in being a pimp! Heck, they should put before and after pictures of that guy in the bus shelters. Show these kids downtown that there's no future in that lifestyle.


A drunk guy got on my 6 route and rode all the way to Southdale Mall with me. As I had predicted to myself, he was knocked out when I got there. I tried my loud whistle and yelling to wake him up. No luck. I try to stay away from drunks since I have often seen them wake up hostile and sometimes swinging when approached. I called Control and they said they would send the Transit Police. They asked if it may be a medical situation. I second-guessed myself and told them I was unsure, but thought he was just drunk.

As I waited on my layover, I decided he was out of it enough for me to do my lost and found check. I walked past him and checked the bus. I walked past him toward the front so I could be near a door if necessary and, keeping my distance, I yelled to him again. He attempted to lift his head and open his eyes. I asked "What's the problem?" He mumbled angerly "What's your fuckin' problem?!" I left it at that and waited for help.

Help didn't show up until I was back in route. I pulled over at 53rd and France when I saw the squad. It was a K-9 squad. As the officer approached my front door, I offered "I'll trade you a drunk for a dog!" The officer didn't seem overly amused. He proceeded to try and get the drunk up and off the bus. He was having quite a hard time. The guy wasn't exactly fit and trim. The officer got him onto the floor and cuffed him. He then tried to pick the guy up and was obviously not going to be able to do it alone. I secured the bus and went to attempt to help. I'm about 5'4" on a good day. I grabbed one arm and the officer grabbed the other. We literally had to drag the guy out the front door. I told the cop I bet he wished he had a big guy bus driver to help. As the guy laid outside the bus, the officer turned him onto his side to check for weapons and stuff. The guy had really glassy eyes and seemed to look right through us. It was creepy. I wondered what was wrong with him. It seemed to be more than just being drunk.

I helped the officer get the guy to his feet and bend him over the trunk of the squad car. I'm thinking, "now what?" as the officer thanked me for my help and told me I could go. I'm guessing he had help on the way, since I doubt they put people in the squad in the back seat with the dog.

I hope the guy was okay. Guess I'll never know. One thing I DO situations like that, I wish that I was bigger!


I had just pulled out from the garage and gotten on the highway to drive to the U of M to start my 6 route. As I merged onto the highway, the metal flap just under the drivers side window flew wide open and flapped up and down in the breeze. I immediately threw on my hazard lights and drove as far right in my lane as I could, trying to make it to the bus stop over Lake street. People were honking at me and pointing at the metal flapping up and down. I pulled into the bus stop and got out to see if I could fix it. I realized I needed to get the door handle to secure the flap. The door handle is also a tool for use on other parts of the bus.

I got back on the bus and tried to pull the handle out. It wouldn't budge. I called Control as I continued to try and remove the handle. They called me back and I explained my situation. They said they'd send a service truck. As I waited for the truck, I decided to try and push the handle one notch forward and open the door and try to get it out. After a little pulling, it worked. I went back out and secured the flap. Feeling pretty proud of myself, not really being a fix-it kind of girl, I called Control back. As I was waiting for them to respond, the service truck pulled up. I told the guy I had been able to fix it and was just waiting for Control to call me back. I was about 15-20 minutes behind at this point and had to see what they wanted me to do. I didn't want to be on the highway when they called. They frown on us being on the phone when driving. Actually, we can be written up for it. It is a very understandable safety issue.

They filled part of my first trip and I drove to MCTC (the school on Hennepin) to start my trip. That was the start of a strange day. The next two stories tell of what happened later that day.


I was driving the 21 this past week. I usually avoid it like the plague. It was all I could get to get off at a decent hour. It was a split with the 46 earlier so it evened it out. One extreme to the other. Boringly mellow route to anything can (and does) happen route!

I was running early, so I was sitting in the bus stop at Lake and Cedar. The light turned green but I was still early so remained stopped. This lady, who was obviously born a few bricks short, says loudly in a rude tone, "Driver, the light is green. You can GO!" I could see she had issues, so I replied sincerely "Actually, I'm running early. I have to wait here until I am on schedule." She complains "I have to be somewhere at 5:30! Just go!" I told her I was on a schedule and could get written up if I left this stop early. She yells "I don't CARE!!" I said calmly, "I'm sure you don't ,but I do. I have to wait." She continued on about how terrible bus drivers are and how she was going to be late because of the bus driver. I mentioned that if she needed to be somewhere at 5:30, she probably wanted at least a bus or two that ran before me.

Miss "I don't care" was sitting in the first forward facing seat on the passenger side. She was not happy with me. The lady in the peanut seat said to me "You know, it's going to be all your fault that she is late." I thought "Oh, great. Another moron." As I looked over at the lady, she busted out laughing. That made me laugh. I said "Yes, I know. It's always the bus drivers fault. I'm used to it." The lady with issues yells "Stop laughing!! It's not funny!" This made me and the peanut seat lady laugh a little more.

As I waited for the light to turn green again so I could finally leave on my schedule, the peanut seat lady and I chatted. Just as I pulled away from the curb, the bell rang. I was almost surprised...Miss I don't care was getting off at the next stop! Issues, man...Issues! The funny lady and I were talking and she was laughing as I pulled into the bus stop. The mean lady yelled as she got off the bus, "I said stop laughing!!" As she got off the last step, she turned and threw up her middle finger at me as she gave me an evil scowl. The funny lady just roared. She thought that was hilarious. I closed the door and began to pull away. I said "Thanks a lot! Now she thinks I was laughing at her!" The funny lady said "No, I think she realized it was me. She stuck her tongue out at me as you pulled off!" I said, "Well, at least she thinks I'M number one!"

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Recently, there was a very tragic accident involving a bus hitting and killing a woman. The driver is a co-worker I actually was in training with about eight and a half years ago. Really nice guy.

There have been conflicting stories around the drivers room. I'm not sure what is exactly the truth. Seems the only thing that every story has the same is that the woman was crossing the street and the bus was turning and hit her. She was dragged about 20 feet and died. The driver never knew anything happened. He was called a mile or two away and stopped the bus. He was given the standard drug and alcohol tests and put on leave. Not even the passengers on the bus knew anything happened. From what I heard, even in the video, the woman was barely visible because she was wearing all dark colors. The bus was one of the new hybrids with the digital camera out the front window to show everything in front of the bus. Seems she walked into the side of the bus somewhere near the front tire. This was truly a tragic accident.

The buzz around the drivers room now is that the driver was fired. Many drivers are very angry about this. It was an ACCIDENT!! Not one driver can say they haven't had numerous close calls. This time, it just wasn't avoided. Just a week or so ago when I was driving down Nicollet Mall, an older woman came out of a business and was walking quickly toward the street. She was looking the opposite direction as she stepped out into the street about 7-8 feet in front of my bus. I blew my horn and she hopped back onto the curb, grabbing her chest out of fear. She gave me a very relieved smile and waved as if to say "thank you" I shook my head and waved back and I was on my way. If I hadn't happened to notice her coming out of the store among all the other people on the mall, I probably would have hit her. It is all too common. People just don't check for traffic. They assume we will see them. There are many large blind spots on the bus and it is easy NOT to see someone.

Logic tells you, that eventually someone is going to be hit. In fact, the news reported there were 3 city bus/pedestrian deaths in nearly 10 years. That amazes me. Knowing how many I have been lucky enough to avoid in the past eight and a half years and multiplying that by about 2000 bus's amazing there aren't more people killed. I think it is very wrong to fire the driver. In fact, some drivers talked about having a day we all call in sick to show our support for him. We all realize that it could have been any of us. One driver said that would probably not be supported by the Union and suggested we all sign a petition for him to be hired loss of pay or seniority. I am more than willing to sign a petition. I thank God it wasn't me. I can't imagine living with the fact that you killed someone even though it was an accident. Then you are fired??!!??? That is just wrong.

My heart goes out to the family of the lady that died. Seeing the news on TV and in the paper, she seemed to be a wonderful person. She loved music. She traveled and brought back the music from the places she had been. She shared this music and cultural food from the places she visited with her family and friends. She just seemed like a genuinely great person. It is a true loss to her family, friends and the entire community. I bet even she wouldn't want the driver to have to not only live his life knowing he drove the bus that killed her, but to lose his job on top of it. It's just wrong.

There, but for the grace of God...

Sunday, March 01, 2009


I was just starting out on the 11 one day from south Minneapolis. There was a guy that had gotten on. There was also an elderly lady with a walker that was also on my bus. I had let them both on and still had a few minutes so I read the paper as I waited for my departure time.

I left, right on time. By the time I got to 38Th street I was nearly 2 minutes behind. I had picked up quite a few people. I pulled up to the stop on 35Th street. Someone got on. The stoplight turned green and I pulled away from the bus stop and into the intersection. Kitty-corner from me I saw a lady waving her arms and running for the bus. I threw up my hands. I even said out loud "What? I can't stop in the middle of the intersection." There were cars behind me and cars parked all along the curb in the next block so there was nowhere I could pull over safely. It was just one of those times you had to keep going.

Much later, as I was getting near downtown, the guy that got on on my layover said loudly from mid-bus "You should have stopped for that lady on 35Th." I was caught off guard. I tried to explain that there was nowhere to stop and I was in the intersection. I even told him I was a couple minutes late at that point and she should have been at the bus stop on time. He then said I sat at my layover too long and that is why I was late. I tried to explain that I made a lot of stops and THAT is why I was late. Then he said "It's all in the color." He was a black guy. The lady running was Mexican or Indian or something, if I remember right. Me, being a white girl, only failed to stop in the intersection because the lady running wasn't white...yeah, sure. If he looked around the bus, I was by far the minority. Besides, if I were racist I sure picked the wrong job, not to mention I was living in the wrong city!! I didn't feel the need to prove myself to this loser by running down my personal history. I chose instead to just say "If you knew ANYTHING about me, you'd know what a ridiculous comment that was." I just hate it when people throw the race card for stuff that has nothing to do with race. It is like crying wolf. When there actually IS an issue with someone that really IS a racist, no one wants to hear it.

The best part came when I was telling this story to a friend of mine. She's a gay girl who I work with. She said I should have told him I kept going because I was homophobic and thought she looked like she might be gay. THAT was freakin' hilarious!! Can you imagine the reaction THAT would have gotten??!!


I've been driving the 11 route a lot lately. Some of the same people get on every day. Same stop. Same time.

One guy, I'll call him The Whistler, got on every day. He was in his late 20's. Polite and nicely dressed, he'd always sit in the front. Later a young lady would get on and sit by him and they would chat until they both got off at the same stop. Their conversations were quiet and between each other. Every time the guy would say something with an "s" in it, there was a faint whistle. It got to be pretty funny. Every day, there was this quiet conversation with the constant little whistles in it. I'm glad I am off to a different route next week. It's one of those things that can go from funny to annoying quite quickly.

There was this other lady that kind of made me laugh to myself. She is an elderly lady that likes to wear strange eye make-up. It's that sparkly stuff young teen girls put on their skin. No real color to it, just glittery sparkles. She wears it all around her eyes all the way down to her cheek bones. She's normally quite pleasant. She just has one trick she likes to try and pull. Though she gets on with a transfer, she often asks for a transfer as she's leaving the bus. I am always polite and tell her something to the effect of "The transfer you got on with is still good." Or "You used a transfer when you got on. You'll have to pay a fare again for another one." She always acts surprised as she exits the bus.

I had one chick that really annoyed me. She only got on once...thank God! She put in a monthly pass and handed it out the door to who I am assuming was her boyfriend. I told her that wasn't allowed. He could then hop on a bus and it would be two for one. Heck, he could stand at the bus stop and do that all day for people. They both insisted he wasn't getting on another bus. I told them that a monthly pass must be in your possession while you ride the bus as proof that the fare was paid and to avoid this fraud. It is only good for the owner of the pass, not for everyone they want to provide rides for AND themselves for a month. They claimed that they did this every day and I am the only driver that has ever said anything. I told them that it was illegal every day and they could get a $180 fare evasion ticket every day. I wasn't going to argue with them. I told the girl she needed to pay a fare, get the pass back or get off the bus. The guy gave her the pass back and I shut the door and pulled off. The girl went to sit down and said loudly "And you better have me at my stop on time!"

OHHHHHHH! How I wished she was the only person on the bus. I'd have driven about 5 miles per hour just to make sure she was late! Actually, in all honesty, that's what I would have LIKED to do. In real life, I prefer to rise above ignorance and just do my job to the best of my abilities. It wouldn't be fair to have other people waiting at bus stops while I'm late due to her nasty attitude.


One of the passengers I hate to see coming got on my bus again the other night. (search blog for "GOOFY") The part that sucks is that I could have kept going! I was driving the 12 close to midnight. I'm cruising around Lake Calhoun heading into uptown. I passed the shelter at West Calhoun Parkway when I heard someone yell. I stopped the bus. It was the Back Door Guy. Damn! If I'd have known, I'd have kept going. He had been bent over in the shelter. There are things that already block your view as you are driving up...a big electrical box, and either a bench or magazine stands. I forget which. You can see someone standing up, but who'd think someone would be in there all bent over??

This guy ALWAYS has issues. I wasn't looking forward to seeing what it would be that night. I was just finishing a ten hour shift and wanted to go home without hassles. Sure enough, he got in and put in his expired transfer. It had expired nearly half an hour earlier. I usually let stuff go if it is 10 minutes or less. I figure that's close. Half an hour is not. If they wanted transfers to last 3 hours they would have made them for 3 hours and not the 2 and a half that they are. I really didn't feel like arguing, so I offered a deal. I told him he could insert the transfer into the bill slot and it would count as a free ride. I knew he just wanted to keep the transfer to continue using it on other buses so I was trying to nip that in the bud. He said he wanted to keep his transfer. I told him he would have to pay a fare then. He proceeded to tell me about all his friends and the mobility and other issues they have. I have no idea what that had to do with the fare. I think he just likes to try and distract you.

I told him he had three choices. Put the transfer into the bill slot, pay a fare or get off the bus. Being the difficult person that he seems to enjoy being, he put his own twist on one of my options. He wanted to HAND me the transfer! GRRRRR....I took the transfer and put it directly into the bill slot.

God doesn't hate me too much, the guys' trip was short. He was getting off the bus at Lake and Girard. I'm sure he was going to wait for the 21 next. He had told me that he wanted to use the transfer again on the next bus....another reason I confiscated it. You can't ride all night on a long-ago expired transfer. As he was getting off, he kept his foot in the door and said "At least let me tell you about my mobility problems.." I had about 3 minutes to get to Uptown station to meet the 6. I growled back at him "I don't have time for this! I have to meet a bus so some of these people can catch it." Some of my passengers backed me up and told him to get off the bus, they had to go.

A little backup goes a long way. He took his foot off the bottom step and I flew to the station to hook up with the 6. If I never see him again, it would be too soon!

By the way, if you want to know why I call him the Back Door's just another of his issues on another day. He insisted in coming in the back door because he had "legitimate medical issues" that required him to use the back door to enter the bus. ??????????? Within days of that, he got on, bopping up the front steps. I purposely gave him an exaggerated "thank you" for not pulling the back door thing. I explained how we just don't have time for that kind of stuff. After he got off, I called the Control Center and asked that they pull the tape for proof in the future that he has no problem using the front door. They refused. I got pissed and talked to my manager. He told me to offer the lift and if he refuses, just leave. I didn't want to give this guy a new game. Luckily, he hasn't tried the back door thing lately.

There's always tomorrow!!
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