I get a chance to run over to Jerry's Foods every Saturday on one of my layovers. So what do you think one Diablo Dinner Roll, one Beelzebub Banana, two Satan Suckers and one, uh, California Roll would cost?
Yesterday I found out that the aerosol class, which we are required to take if we want to carry chemical spray while on the job, no longer entails getting a swipe of chemical under one's eye. I took it a few years ago and the thirty minutes it was supposed to take for the stinging and burning to wear off was more like two-and-a-half hours. That sucked. I might take the class again, even though I've never carried spray, have never wished I did and probably never will. It's just kind of comforting to know I could if I wanted to.
I had an interesting day on the 18 today.
I picked up a guy on a northbound trip who came up to talk to me. He rode with me on the 4 the other day. He's a really nice guy. As we were nearing the end of the line downtown, I picked up a thirtysomething guy at 5th Street. He was wrecked, and he sat down right next to the friendly guy. He had a blood-filled eye, as if someone had hit him. And he was d-r-u-n-k. Since I was only going a few more blocks, I let him on. He kind of made me nervous, though. He had a couple bad transfers and after we'd established that, he pulled out his hotel key to show it to me. By then, we also figured out that he needed to get on a 10.
I dropped him off at 3rd Street and told him to wait right where he was standing and a 10 would be along shortly to take him up to Central Avenue. I was glad to be rid of him because he seemed like the kind of guy who might flip out easily.
I laid over and headed back south. I picked up a few people at 3rd Street and stopped for another couple at 4th. I had a red light. I looked to my right and saw Mr. Drunky, on the wrong side of the street to be catching a 10 to Central Avenue. He wasn't alone. He was clearly squaring off with a young guy. I heard the young guy say something to the effect of, "You're not going to hurt me!" As he said it, he emptied a can of pepper spray into drunk guy's face. I closed the bus door. The young guy casually walked away. The drunk guy stood there holding his face. I saw a Transit cop at 7th Street and told him where he could find a staggeringly drunk guy who I thought had just been maced or pepper-sprayed.
I saw a lady who used to ride with me on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. She's very friendly and she's a real talker. I liked it when she rode with me, though. She usually doesn't work on Thursdays, but she took tomorrow off. It's the anniversary of her son's death. She told me she'd probably be at Fort Snelling most of the day. It felt inadequate to simply tell her I was sorry to hear it.
On one northbound trip, there were about seven squad cars at the corner of 27th and Nicollet (in my neighborhood). There were other cops cruising around. Two of them stopped a woman from getting on my bus at 25th and asked her what she'd been doing. I guess it was OK for her to take a money order to her sister, because they let her get on.
Then, still northbound, I got a text message from Control that I needed to detour downtown. It's farmer's market time and we avoid the main part of it when they're picking up and loading up at the end of the night. As I crossed 12th Street, I got a call from Control. Then a District Supervisor ran over to my bus. There was a fire at 10th Street, so the detour that I thought I was following wasn't going to work. In fact, the farmer's market detour was going to go back to regular and a fire detour was going to go into effect. I had one guy in my ear, one guy outside my bus and text messages popping up all at the same time. The Street Supe told me which way to go and I had a couple minutes at my terminal to sort through all the text messages and figure out which way to go when I went south again.
That southbound trip was my last trip of the night. I picked up the really nice guy who had been sitting next to the drunk guy earlier in the day. I told him what happened to his buddy. He wasn't surprised.
Then a woman, who was apparently listening to some 7/11 music* on her headphones, sang "How great is our God!" over and over and over and over in a fresh new key for every line.
More days like that, please.
I don't think the District Supervisor position has been announced, so I guess it's possible that I threw in the towel too soon.
I guess I don't hate the new Vikings uniforms...
*7/11 music, as defined by our pastor: the same seven words, sung eleven times...
I've been talking about a complete overhaul around here for quite a while now. I'm making slow progress on that front, but for now, I've been dragged, kicking and screaming, into oh, 2002 or so and, thanks to some guy named Mike, I have RSS. I don't even use it myself, but it made Driver 2165 happy. Um, assuming it works...
Trans Am was OK again. We didn't have to do any role playing this week, but I wish that many of the people in my class would learn to take turns talking. It's kind of like a really bad elementary school classroom in there sometimes.
I know, I know, it looks like someone over at City Pages got us a little confused, but how many bus drivers could possibly be keeping blogs, right? Besides, Ryan's blog is smooth and modern with RSS, etc. I can't hang with the big dogs if I refuse to pull this thing out of 1999.
Last week sometime I saw a guy at Oak and Washington. He was standing in the crosswalk, waving right-turning vehicles (me included) through. He was wearing short cutoffs, orange socks and black shoes. I said something out loud, not sure what, but loud enough for the passenger next to me to ask me what had provoked that response. I was almost embarrassed, because it wasn't that big of a deal. I had simply recognized him as a guy who I used to see all the time and hadn't seen for quite a while.
The next day, I saw him at the Uptown station. The day after that, I picked him up at 50th and France. He sat next to me and talked to me until we got to Nicollet. He's a 1963 graduate of DeLaSalle. I can't remember what else he told me, but I do remember that he said he's been in California for ten years and just got back. Huh?!? I'm good with faces. I rarely forget them. I'd say he's been in California (or wherever) for about three or four years. Strange.
Yesterday I passed a burnt-out car at Groveland and Lyndale/Hennepin/whatever that is, and I passed the Driver Groupie on the Nicollet Mall.
Yesterday morning, I was sitting at a four-way stop, picking up a passenger. A car traveling well behind me was anxious to get around me; he totally janklowed the stop. In the afternoon, a car in front of me blew through a red light. I caught up to her about thirty seconds later. You will probably be shocked to hear that she was on her cell phone.
Tonight will probably be the last night for trivia at Tracy's for a while. The trivia team happens to also be a subset of the softball team. My schedule and the surplus of males prevents me from being anything more than a substitute on the softball team. Maybe next pick I'll actually be able to attend a game...
I'll be enjoying Trans Am today.
...and the phone never rang.
I was told that I'd "probably" hear about the supervisor position "by the end of the week." The end of the week came, and by about noon yesterday, I figured I'd be driving bus for a while. I was as relieved as I was disappointed, I guess. Now I'm waiting for my mail carrier to bring me the official confirmation of defeat. (heh)
I went to check my mail when I got home a few minutes ago, and saw that I had nothing. I looked outside and saw the mailman coming up the sidewalk. I let him in. While he did not have bad news from M*tro Tr*nsit, he did have some Nuggets for me! Excellent!
Happy Earth Day to everyone and Happy Birthday to Jamie, Todd, Aimee, and anyone else I might be forgetting...
Trans Am was OK. Some guy gathered a bunch of very basic customer service ideas and applied them to transit workers. I hate to sound like I think I know it all, because I'm sure I don't, but I sure knew most of it. On the plus side, Dorothy, my instructor mentor, is facilitating the class. Hopefully there will be something new and useful for me.
I am very resistant to role-playing. I think it once cost me a job with Nielsen Media Research. I know I'm supposed to be bigger than that, but there's something about role-playing that I find so lame that I can't bring myself to do it. I'm perfectly comfortable discussing strategies and methods for dealing with a given situation, but there's no way I can pretend to be in that situation and act it out. Ugh. It's making me tense just writing about it.
It's Corey's birthday today. I went over to my parents' house. My aunt, uncle, aunt, cousin and grandparents were there. Kassie joined us later in the day. My cousin's birthday is Saturday. We had a good time. My nephew Cayden is about two-and-a-half and he is fun. My niece is very cute.
Today is also Driver 2165's birthday.
I ran late all afternoon. I don't know what the problem was today. Well, there was some kind of action ahead of me on one trip down the Nicollet Mall. Three Transit Police cars zipped by me. Then it took an extra seven or eight minutes to get down the Mall.
I won't be driving tomorrow. I'm going to the Training Center for Transit Ambassador (which I will henceforth refer to as Trans Am). It goes from 11-7, business casual (no uniform!). Love it. I'll go for the next four Wednesdays.
I took Thursday off because a whole pile of my mom's side of the family are coming to see Corey, Tara, Cayden and Kyah. I'm looking forward to that.
Well, I think the interview went well. I got some positive feedback during the interview itself. ("He gets it!") Eh. I should know by the end of the week whether it went really well or not. I told them that if this didn't work out, they'd see me again.
Kassie and I went shopping Saturday and, for a mere $100, I will look like a Total Tool this afternoon. The Hennepin Employees Against Vintage Ensembles, Highest Order convinced me that I can't wear clothes that are older than me to the interview. We were helped at the store by one of my regulars on the 6 line.
I leave in a couple hours. I really don't like interviews. At all.
I had a pretty good Friday. You?
Wow. I did my taxes Monday and the state of Minnesota deposited my return into my bank account today. That was quick.
I made a Hamilton for showing up to work for the first quarter of the year. I can't remember what DEQA stands for, but I was among the qualifiers. A number of the qualifying individuals are picked at random to get $10 cash. That just meant that I could eat tonight. My paycheck goes to the bank tomorrow.
I interview for the District Supervisor position on Monday. I'm planning to wear a jacket and tie, unless I hear from you, my readers, that that practice is passé. Seriously, is there any reason I shouldn't? Consider that all my jackets and ties are vintage. (That's supposed to be part of my charm, see?) I'll most likely look like this.
A trivia win at Tracy's is worth $20 off your tab. A second-place finish is worth stuff. Second is the place to be. We won six Duvel glasses tonight.
I had quite the trip on the 6 this evening.
Six minutes into my last trip of the night, I got behind a woman at a crucial stop light who failed to pull forward far enough to trigger the green arrow. That put me four minutes down. I left Southdale six minutes late.
But the bright spot of my day came at Southdale, when the Daff got on my bus! He asked me to ask him when he had his last cigarette. "WHAT CIGARETTE? I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!"
Then things got interesting. Regarding what happened next, I am making no claims of causality. I am simply reporting to you the events that I witnessed and the order in which they occurred.
The Daff asked me if I remembered the Indiana Jones movie in which they ate soup with eyeballs in it. And the delicacy was MONKEY BRAINS. I told him he shouldn't knock it 'til he's tried it.
The next thing I was aware of was a woman vomiting into her jacket, which she had in her lap. Daff asked her if she was OK; she said she was. He apologized. I had one of my interior mirrors adjusted in such a way that when I looked into it, I saw her. And I looked, and I saw her throwing up.
You may remember that I have a very active gag reflex. It doesn't take much to set me off.
It was a beautiful day. The windows were open to circulate the air. Usually that's a good thing. When someone's heaving Steve on the bus, it's a very bad thing.
The woman got off at Lake Street. I looked at the seat and saw that there was some puke there. So I called Control and was told that I could either wait at the Uptown Station for a bus change or I could continue in service and keep people away from the vomit. It wasn't a big mess, and since it was my last trip I didn't want to wait. The whole front of the bus made sure no one sat in that seat.
I'll admit that I gagged (a lot), but I did not throw up.
I got my scooter out today. The battery is dead, but I can kick-start it. I suppose I'll need to charge the battery before I go out at night.
I need to have a couple things looked at, so I headed over to Scooterville, hoping to catch someone around even though they're closed. Their schedule is pretty much the same as my schedule, which makes it kind of difficult for me to get things done there. No one answered the phone, so I came back home.
Now I guess I should do my taxes.
I had the kind of day on the bus that I don't get very often any more. I wish I did. I drove the 18 today, with one trip on the 554, which is basically an 18 express.
There was a guy waving me in to the bus stop at 7th Street on my first southbound trip of the day. As he got on, he said, "Why don't you run for Republican congressman in your district? Think about it."
The only reply that came to mind was, "I don't think the Republicans would want me..."
Then, after he sat down, he got up again and came to the front of the bus. "I'm going to guess within two minutes your arrival... don't look at the schedule... your arrival at 66th and Nicollet. That's where I'm going to get off." Then he guessed a time. When we got to 66th, we were on time and he reported that his guess had been five-and-a-half minutes off. Then he told me he'd see me on my return trip.
Sure enough, he was waiting for me at 66th on my way back north. He guessed the time again, this time for 8th and Nicollet. He was pretty far off, but before we got to 8th, we got trapped behind a 10 and he bolted.
I was stuck at a stop light, watching some guys prune a tree on the boulevard. The guy in the cherry picker had some kind of tree-trimming implement and it looked like he was having trouble. I saw some rope coming off the front end of the tool. I thought it might be one of these things, but the rope had broken. That's not what it was. As I drove by, I saw that the poor guy was fighting Christmas lights.
It rained tonight. A lot. It was really cool. No one got on my bus between 106th in Bloomington and 66th in Richfield. It rained hardest while I was driving that stretch. I drove through some really deep water near the McDonald's at about 80th. For a while, the hail looked like snow on the ground. There wasn't any traffic, and the drains were having a hard time keeping up with the water, so I cruised along making really big rooster tails with my nice, big, heavy bus.
When I got to 66th, the first woman who got on my bus said, "What happened to your bus? It's all messed up." I thought it was muddy or something. She said, "Did someone hit you?" Now I was kind of concerned. I got out and saw this:
The water from the front tire pushed the panel up and out. Huh. I got a bus change.
Overall, it was a fun day. I had a lot of friendly, happy people on my bus. And I swear that it makes a difference that I had a fast bus. I wish it didn't, but it does.
I went to Tracy's for trivia again last night. "New Job" Andy, Christine "With Child," "Pearly Whites" Lisa, "Disappearing" Noelle, and "Magically Appearing" Teresa were there. We did not win. In fact, we failed to even place. Oh boy, did we suck.
I took three tests yesterday as part of the District Supervisor application process. I was under the impression that we were only going to take a personality test. Not that it mattered what we did, really. The first one was a multiple choice test covering word usage and spelling. I think it was at about an eighth-grade level. It was quick, though- thirty questions, ten minutes. The second test was sixty questions in thirty minutes covering reading comprehension. It wasn't very difficult, either, but I don't necessarily think I got all of them right.
Then we took the personality test. I hate personality tests. This was the kind where I had to Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree with a statement. Of course, there is the much-loved-by-me Unsure option, too. Even though the same sixteen questions get asked sixteen times each in an effort to pin the test-taker down, there is no real outlet to express the nuances of life as I know it.
Am I an outgoing person? Yes. No. Sometimes. Depends. Am I energetic? No. Yes. Sometimes. Depends. Am I creative? Yes. No. Sort of. Do I like analyzing numbers, or do I like analyzing theories? Well, both. And neither. Do I have career ambitions? I am a bus driver (so, historically no). On the other hand, I am applying for a promotion (so, yes, maybe I do).
There were some areas that will be consistent. I like people. I like art.
So anyway, we'll see how that goes, I guess.
People who would like to ride my bus ask me if I'm going to _____ all the time. That makes sense, right? And naturally, one place people want to go is to the store. Common example #1: "Do you go to Cub's?" Common example #2: "Do you go to Aldi's?" You may have clicked through and noticed that neither Cub nor Aldi has an S at the end of their names. Or you may have already known that. But I can sort of see how someone might think that those are the names of the folks who opened the stores, kind of like Dayton's. What I can't figure out is this. Yesterday, for the second time, I got asked, "Do you go to Target's?" I'm going to start answering, "Yesses. I goeses theres."
My TV was still on at the end of the game, but I stopped watching it very seriously about three minutes into it. The game bored me, but at least I now know what Yannick Noah's been up to.
I'm very excited. It's 8:05 and I'm about to watch my first college basketball game of the season!
Check out the commercial I made before it goes away. [Update: It went away twice, and I'm done recreating it, so you'll have to use your imagination a bit. Picture the vehicle moving. You'll need Quicktime to see it.]
I haven't put a photo up of my nephew or niece lately. Here they are. I get to see them in a couple weeks.
I found this on the side of a bus:
The other day, while driving the 6, I saw that the white emergency light on top of the stop light at William Berry Parkway was flashing. A fire truck was approaching the intersection from the west- lights flashing, sirens wailing! Oh, finally some excitement on the 6! Then I saw the inferno! There is a large pile of wood chips on that corner put out by the city for public consumption. A small plume of smoke was rising from the top of the pile. One of the firefighters climbed up there and was kicking it around. Your house was minutes away from certain incineration, Master of Disaster!
Later that night, the CHECK ENGINE and STOP ENGINE lights came on while I was driving on Hennepin Avenue, downtown, on my last trip of the night. Oh, man! Not what I had in mind at all! They went back off and the bus seemed to be running as well as it had been all day. OK, cool. I dropped everyone off and headed back to the garage. The lights came on again on the entrance ramp to 35-W. NO! They went back off again. By now, I suspected that the coolant was low. I just had to make it a few more minutes or it would be many more minutes before my night was over. I started to breathe a little easier as I pulled into the driveway at the garage. Then, when I stopped at the door, the bus killed. This time the LOW COOLANT light came on in addition to the others. Crap! I started it again and it got me into the garage, past the guy who pulls the fare vaults and into a parking spot. I left a note for the fuelers. There is a way to override whatever it is that kills the engine when the coolant gets low, but I prefer to let someone else do that.
I said it afore and I'll say it again. My work this pick makes me smile.
Hey, check it out. The Islamofascists aren't even changing their names anymore. Oh, wait. The word "terrorist" isn't even used. Hmm... wonder why not?
Personality test in the morning. I've been studying hard.