Sunday, March 30, 2008


I was driving the 17 down Nicollet Mall this past week. I pulled in behind the 2 buses in front of me nice and close like we are supposed to. This makes it so people don't walk between the buses and get hit from an oncoming bus. I was sitting there unusually long when I noticed the security guard from Walgreens talking on his walkie talkie. I didn't think too much of it until I saw 2 Minneapolis Police cars flying up behind me with just their lights sirens. I saw the security guard point at the first bus in line. Great. Sure enough, the police pulled in front of the first bus and stopped. Then came a Transit Police care to join in the fun.

The driver of the second bus, the one directly in front of me, came out and motioned for me to back up. This sucks. Pedestrian traffic is heavy on the Mall and half of them I don't trust when I am driving FORWARD. I knew I really didn't have a choice, so I put on my hazard lights and honked repeatedly as I backed up slowly. I was relieved not to have heard a thud or screaming or anything before I was back far enough to be able to maneuver around the bus in front of me.

As I passed the other 2 buses, I saw the police on the first bus. It looked as if they were arresting someone on the bus. Putting 2 and 2 together, I am figuring some loser decided to steal from Walgreens and hopped on a bus to make his (or her) getaway. What an idiot.

The sad thing is, it's not the first time. Sadder yet, I'm sure it's not the last!


I was driving the 17 during rush hour. I got out of downtown and was navigating the bumper to bumper traffic going south on Hennepin. I got to 26Th and had to let someone off. I pulled the front of the bus into the bus stop and left the back part in the lane so I could get back out easily. After letting the person off I pulled the front of the bus back into the traffic lane. A guy at the bus stop waved at me and asked if I could wait for "that lady" as he pointed across the street. I told him I'd try to miss the light but would have to go if I didn't, since I was already in the traffic lane. A guy on the bus said "Just wait for her. She rides this bus every day."

I looked over and saw this lady. She had one baby strapped to her chest. He was facing forward and looked like a ball of arms and legs. She also had a very small child on each hand. She had more than her hands full. I just couldn't leave her there. I missed the light and she got on and thanked me. I was surprised how upbeat and pleasant she was. Most moms with that many small kids are at their wits end and are tired and grumpy.

The next day, I was talking to a guy I know who was sitting in the peanut seat. I got to 26Th and was looking for the lady. I didn't see her anywhere. I told the guy about the lady with the 3 kids the day before. I looked again and commented that I hoped I didn't miss her. Later, after the guy got off, an older lady came and sat in his seat. She said she overheard me talking to the guy. She wanted to thank me for watching for the lady with the kids. She said that was her daughter and her 3 grandsons. She said that was really nice of me to keep an eye out for her. I showed her I had actually made a note on my paddle (the drivers schedule of time checkpoints) that said "3K 26Th" for the lady with the 3 kids on 26Th street. I told her I do different work all the time so by the time I get to know who gets on where, I'm off to something else. I also mentioned the guy that said she got on that bus every day and that's why I made the note. She was very thankful and seemed quite impressed.

The best part is, she let me know I didn't miss her daughter and the kids. She was on the bus ahead of us. Better yet, she let me know I didn't need to watch for her the next day either. She wasn't going to be there.

It felt good to know I was appreciated!


Apparently, there is a new bus stop that no one told me about. It is in the MIDDLE LANE on Lagoon Avenue just west of Hennepin Avenue. Let me explain.

I was running early on the 17 route so I sat at Uptown Station for almost 3 minutes. Finally, I was back on schedule so I pulled out. As I approached Lagoon Avenue, some teenage kid starts running toward me on Hennepin waving his arms wildly. It was rush hour and I was in traffic preparing to turn right onto Lagoon. You really need to watch this turn since not-so-bright people on your left want you to use only one lane...which isn't possible with a 40 foot bus. You have to make sure they see that you will be turning into the 2nd lane and they will have to turn into the third. Then we keep the wheel cranked so we end up in the first lane. I shook my head at the kid and kept driving with the flow of traffic. This kid sprints around the corner and into the street. I slowed to a crawl, watching so I didn't get rear-ended. This kid was at the front corner of the bus pounding on the front window. I was pissed. I stayed toward the middle lane and shook my head at him. Some woman on the bus said "Open the door. He might be late for work." I said "Absolutely not! I'm not promoting this stupidity. If I open the door, he's much more likely to pull a stunt like this again. If he knows he won't get on, he's less likely to run into traffic again like this." I'm not sure if the kid heard me or what, but he finally got out of the traffic lane and onto the curb. I was pissed. I think most of the people on the bus understood my point and how a bus can't just stop in the middle of two lanes of turning traffic for some fool that decides to catch the bus in the middle of the street. We can't do that.

The real kicker came when I got to the layover. I was just finishing my layover and there was the kid. I guess the bus after me went to Target Knollwood. He must have walked from there. I was getting ready to pull off and I saw him crossing the street in front of me. I wanted to get off the bus and explain why I didn't open the door but I didn't get a chance. He flipped me off. I just waved. He flipped me off again. I waved at him again.

Not all stories have a happy ending.


I gave a drivers' vacation on the 2 route during spring break at the U of M. I wonder if he/she knew they took a vacation the easiest week on this route. I appreciated it!

All was going well the entire week. I didn't see the little boy I had a while ago that was such a character that I asked him if he was up for adoption... I told him that I could use the tax write-off. He was such a little ball of energy and curiosity that he lit up the bus. I was a little disappointed that he wasn't around that week but I had a lot of other fun people. All week was almost relaxing and enjoyable.

Then friday came. The shit hit the fan. First, some kid got on and pulled the old transfer-in-the -bill-slot trick. I told him that wasn't the first time that game had been played and he'd have to pay a fare. He cussed and said he wanted a new transfer. I told him to watch his language. I explained that he put it in there, not me, and he would not be getting another transfer for one that was probably no good anyway. Since I REALLY couldn't be positive that the transfer was no good (even though I heard SOMEONE prior to boarding asking the others at the bus stop for a transfer or some money) I told him to just have a seat. He and his buddy ( who did pay) laughed all the way to the back of the bus and continued to use profanity.

I tried to ignore it but it really irritated me that they were laughing about getting away with this scam. I called the cops. They continued to be loud and ignorant. The cussing got loud again so I got on the microphone and told them to watch their language or they'd be off the bus very quickly. The teenage jerk said "Oh, do you really think so?" I said " Actually, I do. The cops are already on the way." They both got up and were going out the back door as the troublemaker said "Fuck you and your bus, bitch!" They started walking south on Chicago. Just then the transit cops pulled up on the wrong side of the street right next to where the brats were walking. I quickly pulled the brake and jumped out of my seat. I stood on the bus steps and pointed at the kids. The bad kid took off running, crossing Chicago. His buddy just kept walking straight ahead like nothing was going on. It had been snowing that morning and the cops used it to their advantage. They spun around like they were doing a backwards donut in the street and started chasing the little loser. I doubt he got far. His pants didn't fit. He had that baggy pants "style". You know, the one that came from prison. Lets you know who the "available" inmates are.

Those of us on the bus had a laugh at his expense. I said something about how a simple fare evasion just went to a fleeing an officer felony. Seeing that kids attitude, he probably already has a juvenile record. I'm sure his momma is (NOT) proud.

I called the control center back and explained the situation and suggested they pull the fare box to get the transfer out in case it was needed as evidence. The bummer of it is, I don't know what happened with the whole situation. The cops usually just handle it with as little involvement from the bus driver as necessary. Otherwise, we'd be in court more than we are in the bus.

Later that day, a couple teenage boys got on at the light rail station. I heard a metallic "clunk" and looked to see one kid with a VERY guilty look on his face shoving something metal up his sleeve. I looked at him like he was crazy and said "You can't bring weapons on the bus." He said it wasn't a weapon. I wasn't sure exactly what it was so I took a guess and said "You just shoved a box cutter up your sleeve. What do you call it?" He pulled out what looked like about a 6 inch letter opener with no handle and said "Sorry, I'll throw it out." He put it in my garbage can. I thanked him and he had a seat. Not a real bad kid. Probably just one of those kids that carries something for protection and ends up killing someone. Not on my bus. People said I should be careful confronting these kids. What else can I do? Let him on with a weapon when I knew he had one? What if he used it on someone one the bus? It's on camera that I saw it. I can't just not do anything. I guess I could have pretended I didn't see it or just let him sit down and push the silent alarm. That would have been a lot of drama for nothing.

Besides, like I always say...God doesn't want me yet!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I was kind of dreading doing the 18 last week. Of all the routes I do, that and the 21 have the most issues. I was pleasantly surprised how well the week went. Most days were actually fun. I ran into quite a few people I knew and had fun talking to them. I did get one older guy with grey hair try and use a 10 ride "kid card" as I call them. They say right on the front they are for those 17 and under. He was kind of surprised when I called him on it. I told him that he'd have to pay a fare. He put in the $2 (it was rush hour) and said sarcastically over and over "God bless you, ma'am. God bless you." I bit my tongue, but what I really wanted to say was "and thou shalt not steal!" I was proud of myself for just letting it go...after he paid the correct fare!

I also had fun driving past Channel 4 during the 5 o'clock news. My mom watches it from Wisconsin so I called and told her my bus number each day. I held a sign out the drivers window that said "HI MOM!" She saw me! WOO HOO ! I Tivo'd it so I could see if my bus actually was shown and it WAS... 4 out of 5 days! You couldn't really read the sign though. I needed a bigger one. I was tempted to have all the people on that side of the bus wave as we went by, but I didn't do that...yet!

This week I'll be doing mostly the 2 route. That is the one with crackheads at one end and college students at the other. I'm hoping to run into the little boy that was so much fun last time I had it. I blogged about him earlier. He's the kid I asked if I could adopt him. He got a kick out of that. Hopefully, something fun, strange, bizarre or hilarious happens so I can share it with you!

Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 08, 2008


I was waiting at the Uptown Station to relieve the other driver and start my day one day last week. I noticed a guy that was having quite a fun conversation...all by himself. I assumed he was on a cell phone and really didn't pay him much attention.

Eventually, he became so animated he was nearly impossible to ignore. Then I noticed it...nothing!!! No wire going to his ear. No beetle looking phone plugged into his ear. Nothing. He had no phone. I became almost obsessed with finding a wire or something to show he was on a phone with SOMEONE. He couldn't possibly be THAT crazy. He was.

Then it hit me. How many people on their cell phones really aren't talking to anyone at all?? Do they even have a battery in it? Do they even subscribe to a service or have any "minutes" left? Are they really talking to themselves??!!?? Maybe they are and it's all just a cover. Hmmmmm...


I have a dilemma. I think I should chat with my manager about it. Actually, I may have no choice but to do so. Some lady said she was going to call in and file a complaint against me.

Here's the situation. The rules say you have to let people on the bus at your layovers. I don't have a problem with that... If I am on the bus. I used to let people on all the time when I had to run to the bathroom or stretch my legs or whatever. That lasted until one day when I had left a few people on my bus and came back to about a dozen people on the bus. I doubt they paid a fare, but what proof do I have? To make matters worse, when I went to leave that day I noticed my entire work bag was gone through and I had a pop stolen. I got thinking...what ELSE did they do?? I sometimes have food and/or drink sitting in my drivers area. We work 8-10 hour shifts...sometimes even longer. We DO need to eat, drink and occasionally use a bathroom. There are some real sickos out there and I don't think it fair that we be required to leave our food and drink open to the public. All it would take is one AIDS infected or HIV positive person or a person with hepatitis or any other catchy disease to be mad at the world and spit in our food or drink.

This may seem far reaching, but is it worth the risk? There is nothing more important than your can't live without it! Seeing as even our managers get to lock their office and the general public does not have access to their office, I think it only fair and for our safety that we are allowed to NOT let total strangers have access to our food, drink and personal property when we need a break. Heck, the average layover is about 10 minutes...what's the big deal??

In this particular case, this lady and what I am guessing was her teen daughter got on my bus downtown Minneapolis. I had purposely pulled up in front of an elderly lady so she would be able to board first. Some guy a little in front of her got on and then these two "ladies" nudged over and I heard one of them mumble something like "she's not getting on before me" and they got on. Finally, the elderly lady was able to board. That gave me a feel as to how these "ladies" were...rude and selfish. At the very end of the route, I announced that it was the last stop and they said they wanted to stay on and go the other way. This route (6E) goes a slightly different way on the way back. I'm guessing they live in the apartments it weaves through on the way back. I told the "ladies" that I had to get off to use the restroom and that I'd be right back. They wanted to stay on the bus. Seeing the type of people I was dealing with when they boarded the bus, I had no intention of leaving them alone with my stuff. I had an open bottle of water in the cup holder and a salad in a bag that hung behind me that I planned to eat later. They had just the attitude that I picture when I see some sicko that would spit in someones' water or something. I told them they'd have to wait off the bus until I returned and then they could get back on. The older one got an attitude and I tried to explain that I had had things stolen before and I had unsecured property that I would not leave on the bus with total strangers. I tried to reason with her. I even asked "Would you?" She couldn't seem to answer that so she chose to threaten to call in a complaint. I told her to do what she had to do. I was just protecting myself.

Was I wrong?? You wouldn't leave people alone in your running car...especially teenagers...yet they find it OK to do with the bus. My biggest concern is my health and giving strangers the opportunity to tamper with my food and drink. Like I said, if I am on the bus...I don't care if people are on the bus. I just think I have a right to my safety and don't think I should have to allow people on the bus with my stuff when I'm not there.

The fact that it is the END of the route should mean something. It is at the end of the route the one driver was choked with a bandanna and hijacked. Another female driver was once raped. It is only smart...and in the interest of the safety of the driver, that we be given the right to refuse to let people on the bus at the layover spots.

Let me know what you think.

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