January '4

1/29

I went to the annual Right to Know class at work today. Here is a small sampling of things that I apparently have the right to know:

  • My garage had fewer accidents per 100,000 miles in 2003 than we were expected to.
  • Diesel exhaust contains nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, nitric oxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulates.
  • Learn to expect trains to cross any track at any time. Watch for them at night, as well as during the day.
  • When you observe suspicious activity, observe and report the person's following characteristics:

  • Head - eyes, ears, hair and facial hair, mouth, nose, forehead, cheeks and chin, complexion, jewelry, hat
  • Body - neck, arms, chest, stomach, shirt/blouse/dress, coat, accessories, tattoos
  • Legs - pants, skirt, belt, feet, socks, shoes
  • Overall appearance - height, weight, gender, neat or sloppy, packages, bags or accessories
  • Unique characteristics such as scars, birthmarks or other identifying attributes

I'm not sure if you had the right to know that, but I told you anyway.

Are you familiar with MoveOn.org? I suspect many of you who read this are. Follow that link to read about CBS' refusal to air MoveOn.org's ad during the Super Bowl. CBS claims they won't run the commercial because they don't run advocacy ads. Um, not counting the White House's two War on Drugs ads you'll see. Or, to push it a bit, all the ads advocating (over) consumption of things that are bad for you. Anyway, this doesn't have anything to do with the continuing media crisis in this country, does it? No, of course not...

1/29

I got up at 4:30 yesterday (Wednesday) morning to drive the 17. I guess I missed Mark on his way to bed by just a few minutes.

The 17 was easy. I barely remember it, though. I was still rolling over to look at my clock until at least midnight the night before.

I drove the 18 in the afternoon. I found a note on my bus that looks approximately like this:

S*** C******* (January 26, '04)

Hello! How's everything going -4- you?

I'm writing to tell you that:

I love

you

Baby.

Always & -4- ever

Holla

The '&' on the note is actually a '3' with little vertical lines above and below it. So yeah, that's nice, isn't it?

Tonight was a friends and family evening at Wyatt's new restaurant. (He's the Assistant General Manager.) It's called Tria and it's halfway to Michigan. Four of us (Ben, Nora, Tina, your humble narrator) ate a lot of food. I particularly enjoyed the sweet potato soup, the venison and the chocolate dessert.

Before we ate, we enjoyed a chilled adult beverage in the bar where John and Nicole (sp?), the bartenders, read us Trivial Pursuit cards. Here is Nicole with a nicely poured Chimay Grande Reserve:


Monks made that beer. Thank you, monks.

I have the next three days off. Today is my three-year anniversary with the bus company.

1/26

Sure enough, someone didn't show up for work yesterday. I had to run up to Lake Street to make relief on the 21. The shift ended at 9:30, but that would have put me over ten hours for the day. I had the option to work it all, but I had places to go and people to see. So I told the dispatcher I couldn't stay out for the whole thing and I got done at 7:00.

Mark and I went to Nancy's and had dinner with Nancy and Eric. Then we played Password. It was the 14th edition, straight outta 1962. The team of Nancy and CJ pretty much dominated the evening.

Eric used to have a large beer can collection. He and Nancy went through it and got rid of most of it. He gave me a couple cans from Dubuque and he also had a can of unopened Ortlieb's (?) from the Bicentennial. That beer was almost 28 years old. So we opened it. I just got enough on my tongue to get the smallest hint of a very nasty tang, but I couldn't keep it near my face without gagging.


You can almost see the crud that was floating in it.

It's snowing. It isn't a lot, but for some reason it never seems to matter. It's like my grandmother is behind the wheel of every single car out there. Cars have been getting brave around me lately. Six cars took left turns in front of me yesterday, causing me to brake. Today two cars tried to pull in front of me and one of them caused me to brake quite hard. I don't know what people are thinking. I could've killed that guy today if the road had been slightly more slippery.

Amazingly enough, I kept all of my trips on the 18 on time except one. I was 10 minutes late on that trip. Then I had two trips on the 156, which also went well. It's usually a matter of being in the right place at the right time, but I really enjoyed that work today.


One of the light rail cars passed in front of me downtown today.

1/25

It's 12:26 am. The 18 went very well this evening.

Just when I thought that nothing of interest would happen, the Daff got on my bus.

He threw down a cigarette as I pulled up. Last I heard, he had emphysema. I'm guessing that smoking isn't too good for that... I said, "Hey, I thought you quit smoking!" (My parents took him out for dinner once, as a reward for quitting. The Daff + Mr. Steak = F-U-N.) Well, tonight, when I asked him about his cig, he just shook his fist at me.

I hear from a couple of the other drivers when he rides their bus. In fact, the Nic Wit was just telling me that the Daff was all hopped up on blonde jokes and was in hysterics over a new one someone told him on the bus. Sure enough, he told me one about a blonde who invented an ejector seat for a helicopter and one about a blonde who assumed a police officer was sight-impaired because he had a dog with him.

10:00 am call tomorrow. It's my favorite shift. But it's the weekend after payday, so I'm pretty sure I'll go out.

1/24

I get groceries about every other day. I find that I waste a lot less when I shop frequently. The people there recognize me now. There's a butcher with whom I've spoken numerous times. It's usually quick and he almost always asks me if I work a lot of splits. But the last time we spoke, we actually had a real conversation.

I ran over there an hour ago for some sandwich meat and cheese and I saw him.

He said, "Hey JT!" Uh, well, really, that's pretty close. I said hi and kept moving.

Ten seconds later, a guy working near the dairy section said, "Hi Stan!"

Um, not as close...

I've had a couple days of splits, working the rush hours. But tonight, I'll be enjoying the 18 until midnight.

1/21

So instead of buying a pair of pants, I bought iLife '04 for my computer. I was particularly interested in GarageBand, which is already shaping up to be a huge time-waster for me. Most excellent.

1/20

Why won't anyone make a nice-ish pair of pants with a plain front and cuffs?

1/18

Looks like I could use an editor the next time I get all excited and fire off an email to the cops. Just bad.

Like the 18 last night, the 17 and the 6 this evening were nice and easy. Very few people rode with me all night. I assume it's the cold; I sure don't want to be outside.

Every year, I fail to learn a basic lesson of winter: Fill the car or truck when it's 20 degrees, because even though 20 is very cold, within the next day or two it'll probably be -1.

And that reminds me. I believe I've learned the Kentucky Fried Lesson, so I'll pass it along: No KFC Any Time Before Work. (Of course, my personal pretty-much-no-fast-food-ever policy may be a major reason I finally caught on to the KFL.)

1/17

Oh, the 21. I relieved a driver at Nicollet and by the very next stop, I had a guy asking me for a free transfer. Unfortunately for him, that guy's picture is hanging in the garage explaining that he is a chronic fare evader. I saw him later and he didn't even try to get on my bus.

Then, on my next trip, a drunk lady got on and started screaming obscenities. She made it half a block before I told her that the next stop was her stop.

There was a fire on Lake Street yesterday. It was a cool old building.

The 21 travels on Lake Street, and it was blocked off, so we were on a detour all day. It was posted in the garage by the time I got to work. Signs went up on the streets (directional signs for us and BUSES STOP HERE for our passengers at the modified stops) over the course of the afternoon. The detour had us cut over to 31st Street, one block south of Lake Street, using Cedar and Bloomington Avenues for north-south travel. Of course, the whole area was a big traffic mess, and I kept wondering why the cops weren't out there directing traffic, especially during rush hour.

So anyway, the detour required a left turn from Lake Street on to Cedar Avenue. Well, there is a No Left Turn 4-6 PM sign at Cedar. Oh, hey! I found out where one of the cops was. He was busy writing a ticket to a bus ahead of me for making that left turn. Give that guy a promotion!

And here is the email I just sent the police department (edited here for search engine purposes only):

Dear Police,
I would like to commend the fine officer on duty at Lake Street and Cedar Avenue yesterday afternoon. His diligence in upholding the letter of the law was unswerving. At a time when his time could have been spent with frivolities such as TRAFFIC DIRECTION, this officer unfailingly protected and served the public by writing a ticket for a bus driver who followed the detour signs PUT UP BY M*TRO TR*NSIT. Pure genius! That officer's eagle eyes did not miss the No Left Turn 4-6 PM sign! And surely, I need not mention that those eyes also did not miss the fact that the driver is Somalian! But I guess I'll mention it anyway.
Thanks again!
Love,
CJ Camp
Minneapolis

1/15

I went to First Avenue last night for the best New Bands of 2003 Showcase. I think I saw seven bands, or six bands and one Haley Bonar. I only actively disliked one of them: three guys playing leftover Black Sabbath riffs to no end. Well, they finally did end- five minutes later than they were supposed to. Here are a couple pictures:

Tiki Obmar, in the first picture, are friends of Driver 2165. I bought their CD. Revolver Modele sound like Joy Division (beware that link, it messes up my browser). I liked them pretty well, but I'd have to hear them a couple more times to decide if they have some substance to go with all that style.

I was on call today at 9:30 am. I ended up getting a small split and going out on the 9 for a few hours. It went well, not counting the guy in the minivan who pulled up next to me and gave me the finger while repeatedly shouting, "F*** you, bitch!" I had the nerve to change lanes into his lane- when he was still about thirty yards behind me. So I did the usual: I waved, blew him some kisses and took his picture.

I have a long day tomorrow and it's also my last day with Duke.

1/13

Oh, I almost forgot: I enjoyed the StarTribune's editorial today. (If you have to log in, use name: transit and password: librarian.) I just can't accept the thinking on Iraq that says the end justifies the means.

1/13

Sunday night on the 21 was a bit more eventful than I expected it to be. Two people dominated my night.

One young woman got on my bus around 8:00 on my way to Uptown and promptly went to sleep. She got out at Uptown, but when it was time for me to head back to St. Paul, she got on again. I asked her if she'd slept past her stop. She said she was just trying to figure out where she was going. ha. Little did I know...

She spent the next four and a half hours on my bus, mostly asleep, or more likely passed out. I think I got up on the wrong side of the bed that day because it really started to annoy me. It usually doesn't. At first I didn't want to call the cops because she woke up and paid when we got to Uptown. And I wasn't completely sure that she was messed up; I didn't smell it on her. But adding to my annoyance was that she sat right behind/next to me and had to catch herself from falling out of her seat when I made right turns. Plus, she was snoring.

Well, I should have just called someone to get her off the bus, but I didn't. Before the last full trip she took with me, I told her that she couldn't get on and fall asleep. Then, when she did, I told her that if she was still on my bus when we got to Uptown, I was going to call the police. She protested, pointing out that she'd paid. That was true enough, but she left out the passing-out part of the equation. And I didn't mention it, in part because she seemed to have sobered up. Either way, she got off at the Midway Cub.

Then I picked up a young guy who was trying to catch a 3. Unfortunately, it was close to 1:00 in the morning and the Sunday schedule is already pretty basic. After five minutes on the radio with Control, we determined that the last 3 started out of downtown at about 1:15 and we were 30 blocks south of downtown with no available connections. He rode with me to Uptown and I let him use my phone to call a cab.

We tried at least two cab companies and he tried to flag a few on Hennepin Avenue. A couple of cab drivers were killed a couple months ago and this kid was pretty sure that they were avoiding him because of that. Then some cops yelled at him and he was nervous about being out in the open (and sure enough, the cops circled back a couple times). So he stayed on my bus and called again. But I had to go, so he was on the move and the guy at the cab company got tired of talking to him and hung up on him. He rode with me to 27th Avenue where we met a 7 that he planned to take to the Mall of the Universe to find a cab.

I'm staying with Duke this week. Today we went for a walk on Minnehaha Creek.

1/11

I've had a healthy stretch of good weekend work, so it was about time that I got some late-night work. I went out on the 18 last night until 3:00 this morning. And tonight I'll be on the 21 until about 2:30.

I heard rumblings at the garage before I pulled out that it was one of those nights out there. It pretty much was for me.

On one particularly eventful trip, I had three drunk guys who managed to find the cash to get drunk, but couldn't pay the $1.25 bus fare.

Well, one of them had a free ride transfer, but I had to explain to him that it was only good the first time he used it. A free ride transfer is good for one use within three days of getting it. The user needs to ask for a transfer if they need one. I gave him a transfer and took the expired and useless free ride, but he was mad. I explained how it worked again to him, but he didn't understand. OK. It's quite understandable that he didn't know how the free ride works. What I don't understand is the arguing with me. Like I said, he was drunk.

Another of the drunk guys had a transfer, too, but it had been expired for two hours. (He most likely picked it up off the ground at the bus stop.) I picked him up at Franklin Avenue while I was arguing with the free ride guy. The new drunk told me that he had called the cops and they revived a woman who was passed out at the bus stop at Franklin. And that was his excuse for having an expired transfer. Since I had driven through that intersection half an hour earlier, I knew that he hadn't been held up by the cops for two hours. So I told him I would give him a free ride, but he'd have to pay for a transfer. When we got to Lake Street, he got off the bus and then came back on, looking for his hat. He looked for his hat for two red lights and a green light. Somewhere in there a kid came up and bought the guy a transfer. Then the guy looked for his hat for another green light, a red light and most of a green light. I'm not sure he even had a hat when he got on.

Then, a block later, I picked up a guy at 31st Street. I could see that he'd been drinking as I pulled up. He got on and said something about change. At first, I thought he was looking for change for a bigger bill, but he was asking if anyone would give him money. About the time I figured that out, he gave up and sat down next to me. Since I was running late due to the phantom hat guy, I didn't mess with this guy at all.

He started talking at 34th Street and didn't quit until 59th Street. From what I could tell, he had been out partying with his girlfriend and her friends. His girlfriend had one of her friends drop him off at the bus stop. He was going to go home and take a bath and play a joke on her. The big joke seemed to be that he was going to call her cell phone and her home phone. He kept saying that he couldn't understand why they couldn't all have fun partying together, why he got sent home. I don't know for sure, but I'd guess the incessant chatter combined with the coat full of sputum might have had something to do with it.

1/8

I had a forced-swing-split-stub kind of day today. But I volunteered for those. I drove one trip on the 156 (express from my 'hood to downtown Mpls) then one trip on the 21 (Lake Street) this morning. Then I sat around on call for a couple hours. After that, I came home, ate lunch and took a nap. Then I went back and drove two trips on the 21 and one trip on the 588, which is an express from downtown Mpls to Edina and PWB (Prestigious West Bloomington).

I saw Frank driving a school bus today. We went through full-time training together, but I think he broke someone's leg with a bus and lost his job. That was quite the bummer for everyone involved.

And speaking of losing jobs, I suppose I could've lost mine today. We got a memo this morning that we are now supposed to stop at all Light Rail tracks the same as any other RR track. Until now, we'd been told that we could just follow the traffic lights downtown at 5th Street where the train runs. So the very first chance I got after reading that memo, I blew across the LRT tracks on Hennepin Avenue without stopping. Brilliant.

Oh. Then, as I was pulling out of the parking lot at the garage on my way home, a lady walked over to my truck and asked me if I'd give her a ride for $5. I told her I'd give her (and her husband or boyfriend) a ride for nothing. They only had to go about a mile north of the garage. Their names were Nina and Rick and they were very pleasant people. It's a good thing my gut feelings are reliable, because it crossed my mind that that was the kind of situation that can turn ugly.

1/7

Tina needed a ride to work today and it's my day off, so I was happy to help. She works at St. Peter's Catholic Church, the oldest church in Minnesota. They're in a building that was built in the 1950s, but the original building has been restored and they have daily mass, weddings and funerals there. As usual, I didn't think to bring my camera along, but I always have my phone, I guess:

I don't think that picture does it any justice. It's really quite beautiful. Of course, I kind of get into that stuff. I would have majored in history if I had thought that I was going to be able to coach something.

1/6

Did I mention that I put up my photos of people getting their pictures taken with the statue of Mary Tyler Moore? I don't think I did. And I just put up my photos of dogs taking care of business.

1/6

I finally got around to making my end-of-the-year music list. Um, it's nothing special...

1/5

I was on call today. I drove the 17 for a couple hours. Then I went back to the garage, ate some chocolate that the Driver Groupie gave me at Christmas, and pestered Diane, the 3:50 call driver, for a couple hours. (One benefit of avoiding caffeine is that when I get a little in me, it works.) Oh, and I put away schedules.

The 17 goes down 24th Street between Nicollet Avenue and Hennepin Avenue. A lot of the No Parking signs on 24th look approximately like this:

Of course, I have no idea who Crazy Amy is, so I don't really get the joke (if it is a joke), but it makes me laugh every time I see one of those signs.

1/4

Two nights in a row of the 2, and I'm not even sick of it. Unfortunately for anyone still reading this, the 2 let me down. It goes down Franklin Avenue, right through The Zone, and I didn't get a really good story in twenty-one trips.

I think the cold is keeping the drunks and the crackheads inside.

One guy got on my bus who had been out there with coats for anyone he saw without one. He's been clean for about nine months and he was pretty happy about that. Interestingly, he kicked the hard stuff, but he can't quit smoking cigarettes.

I got an email from fellow grad schooler Michelle. She sent this URL to her brother in China, but he got the following message:
"Citing obvious security concerns, the Chinese government has blocked access to the bus driving librarian's site."

Obvious security concerns. Our cover is blown.

1/1

Happy New Year!

I drove the 17 last night. Surprisingly enough, the only really drunk guy who rode with me got on at 2:05 pm. But I was done at 11:30, so I didn't get the first drunks of the new year.

An Asian lady got on the bus and asked me if I went to ???. Her English was- how do you say in America?- broken. And she wasn't just asking, she was shouting very loudly. But we figured out that my bus must be the one she wanted. She didn't talk until we got close to her stop. Then she told me that she was going to see her boyfriend. Apparently, she has a lot of boyfriends because "American men find Oriental women desire." Then I think she was apologizing for getting mad or making me mad or something. I really had no idea what she was talking about. I told her I wasn't mad and that everything was OK.

The old guys who give out candy rode with me twice, and gave me candy both times. One of them reminded me not to behave myself both times he got off the bus. But I did behave myself all night.

One quite talkative lady got on in downtown Minneapolis on our way to NE Mpls. She was trying to help me help a kid find a hotel. Then, as we approached the 5th Street stop, she said, "That lady in the blue wants this bus and she'll want to sit where I'm sitting." And of course, I knew that, because the lady in blue was 17 Lady! Yeah! And the talkative lady was the 17 Lady's daughter! Yeah!

When I got done driving, I made it to Wyatt and Tina's house just in time to toast the new year.

December '3