Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I had, what I hope will turn out to be, a great idea! It's been thought of before, but not acted on.

I want to write a book of bus driver stories. Seems people really enjoy my blogs. That got me thinking...every bus driver has stories! I'm hoping to get enough stories from my co workers to put together into a book. "Picking Up Strangers.com The Book". I have been putting fliers at each of the 5 bus garages in Minneapolis and St. Paul. I plan to get to the last two garages later today. Hopefully, I get enough drivers to submit their stories. So far, the response has been underwhelming. There are around 2,000 drivers in the system. If I can get 1 in 10 to give me a story, I should have enough.

If you are a driver...Pleeeeeeease submit your stories!! This could be a really fun, interesting book! The info on where to submit stories is/will be on the community board at your garage. If I am able to make the book, I plan to put a copy in each drivers room.

If you are a passenger...bug your driver!! Tell them to submit their stories!! Maybe if I end up making a book, I can do a contest again...this time with the book being one of the prizes.

Wish me luck!!


There is a regular passenger that has been missing for about 2 weeks. Some drivers and other passengers are very concerned. It had been quite cold...well below zero...some of that time. I know the last time I saw her, she didn't look well.

Her name is Barb and she is often seen at Uptown Station with her little dog that she keeps in a backpack type bag with mesh sides for air. (I think it is made for pets). Barb looked pretty wiped out last I saw her...probably 3 weeks ago now. Rumor has been that she had pneumonia or bronchitis. One driver actually went to her apartment to check on her. Seems no one has seen her there either. This driver said she checked the hospitals and was ready to call police. I spoke with a driver Saturday that said he heard she WAS in a hospital.

Barb is probably about 60-something. Heavy set white lady with almost shoulder length grey hair that used to be black. She ALWAYS has her dog with her. The dog normally stays in the backpack type bag. Barb sits at Uptown Station a lot, normally on the bench by the drivers room door. She rides buses all day long, often riding the 21.



I was driving the 6 last week. There was this adorable little boy that would get on early in the morning on his way to school. He was about 9 or 10 years old. The first day he tried to pay with a 10 ride card that was out of rides. I told him not to worry about it. He sat in the peanut seat and we chatted for his fairly short ride.

A few days later, he got on again. That day he had NO fare at all. He kept digging in his pockets while he looked at me. He knew there was no money there. He was putting on an act hoping to get to where he was going before I noticed. I started to get the feeling his parents were trying to save money (it was rush hour) and kept putting this poor kid in the middle. I explained to him that it was illegal to ride without paying the fare and that he needed to talk to his parents. They should make sure he was prepared to pay his fare each day. I suggested he mention it to them the night before so they had it ready in the morning. I told him it wasn't his fault. It was his parents job to make sure he had what he needed. I let him know I wasn't mad at him, but he needed to talk to his parents. I told him that when people continue to not pay the fare, we call the police and they deal with it. If he continued not to pay the fare, I'd have to do that and I really didn't want to.

The next time he got on, he had his fare. I thanked him and we talked. He was the most pleasant little kid. After he got off, I found myself talking to this other guy. He was a regular rider that witnessed all three occasions. I told him how relieved I was that the kid had his fare. I was angry with the parents for putting him in this situation over and over. I also told him I had been dreading seeing the kid at his bus stop. I knew I told him I'd have to call the police, and I didn't have the heart to do it. I had decided that if he didn't have his fare, I'd just send him back home. At least his parents would get the hint and I wouldn't have to traumatize the kid by having the police show up.

Shame on his parents! What a terrible position to put that adorable little kid in. It is not fair to him and also a terrible thing to teach the kid. They should be teaching him responsibility. I really didn't appreciate the position it put me in either. I'd love to be able to have a little chat with his parents. Hopefully, all is settled and they never to that to the kid...or the bus driver...again!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I was driving the 11 in northeast Minneapolis. It was super cold out. I had just left the bus stop and was crossing 17Th avenue when I saw this lady in the supermarket parking lot waving at me. Against my better judgement, I pulled over and waited for her. If it was warmer, I'd have kept going. I did get that little voice in my head telling me this was stupid and I'd regret it. A trainer once told me, you are more likely to have issues with someone that is flagging a bus down and not prepared at a bus stop than you will with those waiting at the stops. I've found this to be amazingly accurate!

This "lady" climbed through the snowbank and got on the bus. She had an open can of Coke in her coat pocket. No big deal, except that she smelled like she just jumped out of a cheap bottle of whiskey! Of course, she had no fare and was drunk and stinky. She ticked me off. I knew I should have kept going. I told her she'd have to pay the fare like everyone else did. Thank God no one came and paid for her. They must think like me...if you got money for booze, you got money for the fare. Well, she didn't. I couldn't stand the smell of her anymore. I told her she'd have to get off the bus.

As she got off, she looked at me...dead serious...and said "Don't ever ask ME for any favors!" I told her "I promise, ma'am....I won't."


I was driving out of the Veterans Home one day last week. I met a suicidal squirrel.

I was just coming out to the 4-way stop and a squirrel fell out of the sky and landed a few feet in front of my bus. Okay, he probably fell from the overhanging tree. Anyway, He landed on all fours just like a cat. He looked me right in the eye. It was weird! I was only going about 10-12 miles per hour. He just sat there. I decided to just drive over him slowly and figured he could run out from mid bus if he wanted to. I passed over him, looking in my mirrors expecting to see him run out from under the bus.

I was a little surprised when I heard the "crunch". It sent shivers up my spine. How gross was THAT!!! The squirrel obviously wasn't thinking the same way I was. He had plenty of time and room to run out from under the bus. Seems he didn't want to. He must have known the next few days were going to be like 40 degrees below zero wind chills. He didn't wanna deal with it! Suicide by bus. That sucks.

What was worse was that I had to go back to the Vets Home again. I saw the lil' guy...way more than I wanted to see. I was glad when it snowed and the plows came and got rid of the evidence!!

Friday, January 09, 2009


There is this one lady that gets on/off at 18Th and Nicollet. I hate to say it but the truth is the truth...she's a bitch! A while back, she got very angry with me for asking for ID when she paid a mobility fare. When she showed it to me she was very mean and complained about me asking to see ID and said something about a bus driver was the one that "maimed" her in the first place. She seemed to walk and talk just fine, but I think she has anger issues. I may even have blogged about her.

Earlier this week, I ran into her again. I had one of those buses that kneel. You can let the air out and it lowers the front of the bus to make it easier to board. It is very handy in the snowbanks. Before I realized who I was about to pick up, I pulled into the bus stop and began to lower the bus. She starts yelling "Don't do that!! It makes it worse!" Immediately, I recognized her. Knowing she was naturally nasty, I just said "Sorry, most people appreciate when I do that for them."

She scanned her Go-to card and looked me in the eye. She seemed angry as ever. She demanded a transfer. I told her it was on her card. She repeated that she wanted a transfer. I explained that she would then have two transfers for one fare and that was not how it worked. Her transfer was on her card. She kept on, saying the other drivers give her transfers. Refusing to be bullied, I told her that they shouldn't and that her transfer was on her card and she wouldn't be getting a second one from me. I told her I remembered her from when she was hostile with me for asking for mobility ID. I knew she seemed to enjoy giving drivers a hard time, but that she wasn't going to ruin my day. She said "You're such a bitch!" and went and sat down.

As this was going on, I had pulled into a bus stop to allow another woman to exit. She had a bunch of bags and was older so I again lowered the bus. This lady gave the bitch an evil look and then looked at me smiling and gave me a very sincere "Thank you" for lowering the bus for her. I thought that was nice. She was obviously trying to give the bitch a clue and let her know that most people DO appreciate when the driver makes it easier for passengers to get on and off by lowering the bus.

I continued into downtown. Not letting the bitch spoil my mood, I did as I normally do and greeted people as they got on and thanked them as they got off. I checked the mirror occasionally to keep an eye on the troublemaker. She seemed to just be sifting through coupons and minding her own business. Normally, once someone calls me a name I kick them off the bus. With this person, I already knew she had some anger issues and chose to just feel sorry for her and ignore her rather than kick her off. Besides, she's an old lady. I wasn't too worried about her continuing her rant on the bus.

Many of the passengers were getting off on seventh street. I knew this was where she normally got off, too. As the people filed by, I thanked them and told them to have a nice day. The bitch was inching her way forward to take her turn exiting. I didn't want to treat her any differently, so I said "Have a nice day." She stepped off, turned around and gave me an evil glare and said "And you continue to make everyones day miserable!" After I closed the door and left the bus stop, the remaining passengers seemed offended. One lady came up and told me that the bitch had left a mess. I turned around in my seat to see a bunch of papers on the floor where she had been sitting. I told the people that the lady was always like that and I just look at it like...I'm glad not to be her. It would suck every day to get up and be angry all day. I wouldn't even WANT to get up! If there was a nice way to suggest she get some counseling or anger management, I would. I just can't think of a way to say it that she would actually consider doing so. I don't think "Sucks to be you!!" would be appropriate either, but it is tempting to say!


I was having a pretty mellow ride on the 18 just leaving downtown when the bell rang. As I was pulling into the bus stop, a guy said "Sorry, next one." I said "That's okay, I'm used to guys lying to me." He laughed and came up to chat until we got to his stop. He smiled and said "I would never lie to you!" I told him "Yep, that's what they usually say!" He laughed and continued "I'm not like that. I'm different.." I said "Yep, and that's usually the next line I hear! You've got them all down!" He laughed as he got off the bus. I smiled at him and gave him my usual line "Have a nice day!


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!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Ohhhhh, the 18!!! To see what I've been missing by driving the 24 for the last month or so. People are so funny. When it comes to characters, the 18 is full of them.

Yesterday, I was driving down the block and saw someone in a car that was parked in the back part of the bus stop. They were flagging me down. I had to drive past them to get at least the front of the bus in the stop and they yelled like I was killing someone. Seems they thought I was going to pass them. I just needed to get the bus out of the only traffic lane as much as possible so other drivers weren't held up.

Thank God I did. The next 5 minutes were quite a production. This young girl was helping an old lady with a cane and a wrapped foot get to the bus. I had angled in and instead of getting on the sidewalk they had decided to walk along the side of the bus. Then they had to climb the snowbank to get to the door. The lady kept sinking. I waited patiently as they worked to FINALLY get her onto the bus. She proceeded to tell me all her woe's. That is one thing I like about the newer buses...there is a big wheel where the front side facing seat usually is. It is easier to not hear the person in the "peanut seat" because they are back 5 feet or so.

I managed to make it downtown with most of my sanity intact. Then came the real comedy. A blind guy had gotten off just before the lady with the foot problem. Just before I closed the door, those of us in the front of the bus heard the lady ask him "Are you really blind?" ??????????
WHAT? ??????? Did she think he was just faking??

We had a good laugh, not believing she really ASKED him that!! The poor guy not only had the red tipped cane, but his eyes went in two different directions! What a stupid question.

Today on the 18, this cute little old lady got on. I said "Hello" to her. She said "Wow! Two great bus drivers in a row!!" I almost said "You haven't seen me drive yet." but didn't get a chance. A few blocks later, as she exited the bus, she looked at me and said "Thank you so much. You need to make yourself contagious!" That was great. I'd never heard that before...quite original!

One other thing just came to mind. Last week on the 24 I was chatting with a passenger that is a chef at one of his jobs. Before he got off, he gave me his "business card". It was a piece of paper cut the size of a business card with some cartoon drawings of an alligator on it. It claimed he was the "Jambalaya King". Then it said he specialized in "Bayou Cuisine". Sounds yummy. Then it went a little too far and claimed to also specialize in "Slap-Yo-Mama Cuisine". I don't think I want any of that! I love my Momma!!

Saturday, January 03, 2009


Seeing as the Minnesota Vikings are in the playoffs (Eat your hearts out, Packer fans!!), bus drivers are allowed to put the "GO VIKINGS" sign on the destination signs on the bus and we are allowed to wear Vikings jerseys, t-shirts and "baseball style" hats. As usual, I pushed the envelope a little yesterday. I wore the purple hat with the horns sticking out to the sides and the yellow braids. It was fun. I'd guesstimate that about 95% of the people that got on my bus got on smiling! Of course, I had my Peterson t-shirt, Viking beads and bracelets and purple scarf on along with the lovely hat. By far, the passengers enjoyed the horn hat much more than the regular "baseball style" Viking hats I had been wearing. MANY more people got on smiling when I wore the horn hat.

I wasn't just entertaining my passengers either. I had people in other vehicles giving me the thumbs up, flashing their headlights and honking their horns. It was great!

I think this temporary dress code does amazing things for public relations. It makes people see that we drivers are just like everyone else. They warm up to you instantly. It opens up conversation on and off the bus and gives the whole bus ride a comfortable, friendly feeling. I'd like to give my own thumbs up to those in the Management positions that allow this to happen. I hope they realize not only how great this is for public relations, but how it makes the bus a FUN place to spend a part of your day! Of course, I was on the mellow 24 line. Next week I have the 18, so we'll see (hopefully!) how much difference that makes.

Hopefully, the Vikes will take it all the way to the Superbowl so I can keep dressing purple and people can keep enjoying the spirit of the ride! GO VIKINGS!!


I was doing the nice, mellow 24 route yesterday. I was westbound on Franklin when I pulled up at 13Th avenue. This lady got on with a mug of coffee. It was steaming and had no cover on it. I immediately recognized her as a person who often tries to get a free ride. I said "Good Morning" to her and informed her that she needed to have a cover on any drink that is brought on the bus. Especially one that is hot. I had a feeling she was not going to pay a fare, so I used her drink as an excuse. I told her I would wait for her to pay and sit down before I moved the bus. I told her I didn't want her to spill that hot coffee on me or anyone else.

She proceeded to tell me she had lost her transfer and that she wasn't going far. This was the umpteenth time she used this excuse. She really needs to be more creative. I told her that that wasn't going to work with me this time. She had tried that far too many times and she would get no more free rides from me. I had let her go the first time or two...giving her the benefit of the doubt. This was one time too many. She'd have to pay a fare or step off the bus. Realizing she was busted, she got off the bus.

This is just a reminder to those that ride the bus. Sometimes, the driver has had previous experience with certain passengers. Especially fare evaders. We are not just being mean by requesting the fare. Often, we are saying enough is enough to this particular individual. It's happened countless times to me over the past 8 years. To other passengers on the bus, they see only this one situation. To the driver, this is one of many attempted fare evasions and the person is either going to get off the bus or have the police take them off. We don't do that to be mean. We do that to keep order and let those scammers know that they must play by the rules like everyone else. It is illegal to ride the bus without paying the fare. It is also cheaper to pay the fare than to pay the $180 ticket you will get for fare evasion. I'd just like to thank the overwhelming majority of passengers that pay their fares every day without issue and make my day, and everyone elses, less stressful and much more pleasant. You are appreciated!!
eXTReMe Tracker