May '4

5/28

Well, the Internet seems to be working again, but a technician from RoadRunner will be here Tuesday to look at everything.

I drove the 4 today. As usual, it went well.

Does your dog have osteoarthritis? Several of the bus shelters have ads for Deramaxx on them. It's a beef-flavored painkiller. You can take a quiz. It's found under the DERAMAXX LEARNING CENTER tab on that site. I didn't read the name of the product correctly the first few passes by the shelters. The poster says something like "Make A Dog's Life Better" and I thought the product was Dreamaxx. I suspected that someone had found a way to make dogs dream in color or something.

It's raining. Again. But I got out on the scoot for a while this morning.

Some kids were on my bus when I made relief at Lake and Lyndale today.


Lake and Lyndale

They were kind of loud, but not too bad. I heard the f-bomb, but only a couple times. I usually say something if I hear a lot of profanity. When we got to Franklin Avenue, one guy with a little kid decided to get off the bus. His comment: "We don't need to listen to this sh*t!" Um, see, I think that's funny...

I'll be out late on the 9 tomorrow night. To the extreme I rock a mic like a vandal, light up the stage and wax a chump like a candle.

5/28

Hey, now that we've been back just about as long as we were on strike, I'm still getting "welcome back" from people. It's nice, I suppose...

I went into Southdale on a layover the other day and Karmelkorn, my #1 layover snack place, is closed! My #2 layover snack place, Mrs. Field's Cookies, is also closed!

I saw Oz yesterday. I'm afraid he's off the wagon. He told me that as of last night, his probation officer could pick him up and he'd be looking at six months in jail. So he's hanging out on the streets again, doing who knows what, keeping watch for cops.

I've seen Little Red Loafers twice in the last week, once Uptown, once downtown. And here he is on this Pizza Lucé ad from City Pages:

Our Internet seems to be down...

5/24

I finally got to take my scooter out for a ride this afternoon. It's been raining a lot.

Here is a photo I sent to Genuine. Yes, I got a new sticker today. Um, geek.

5/24

This is my last day watching Duke.

I rode the bus to Uptown Station to make relief on the 17 Saturday and this lady was on the bus. Fortunately, her attackers were caught.

I was driving the 17W, which goes into NE Minneapolis. Some 17s stop downtown, and people often get on them thinking they're going to NE. I picked up one such guy at the stop where passengers can catch the 17W if they got on the downtown bus. He told me that the fruit stands on the Nicollet Mall distracted him and he got on the wrong bus.

I saw the Daff downtown- walking toward a coffee shop, of course.

As I pulled into a stop at Drew Avenue, a lady who was exiting the bus pointed out to me that someone had left a backpack on the bus. I had a layover at France Avenue (2 blocks- it's alphabetical), so I figured I'd retrieve it there. There were two people on the bus when we got there. The guy was asking me about catching a bus that took him further west. After he got out and I stopped the bus, the backpack was gone. So I'm pretty sure the lady who was on the bus took it when she got off. I just figured it must have been hers; she was sitting in the seat across from where it was. I went to SuperAmerica for some tea and when I came back I saw that there was a message from Control. They wanted to know if I'd found a backpack. So clearly, the lady who took it stole it. The woman who owned it met me at Uptown Station to claim it and I had to tell her it was gone. I was kind of angry, but at the same time I was kind of amazed at the thief's boldness.

5/20

I was driving the 4 today and I noticed that I was kind of bored. And I felt even more bored as I entered downtown Minneapolis, with the boredom waning as I left. I couldn't figure it out.

Then, on my second trip downtown, with the boredom almost unbearable, I realized why I was bored. Jimmy Buffett was in town to inflict his special brand of Island Lite on hoards of Baby Boomers dressed in Hawaiian shirts and grass skirts.

In somewhat related news, congratulations to Genevieve and Bongo. Bongo popped the question today and everything's a go.

Hey, someone left a duffel bag on my bus. It wasn't filled with explosives.

And, after dark, on my last trip south, I saw a little hottie running for the bus. Um, turns out her name was probably Lola, L-o-l-a Lola...

5/19

5/17

Guess it's been awhile.

I'm Duke-sitting again, so I haven't had too much time with my computer.

Plus, I've been social. Two parties in two nights. I met Kassie's friends Saturday night and she met mine last night. As far as I know, no real damage was done at either one.

I drove the 4 Thursday and Friday. My north terminal was always Apache Plaza. As I mentioned, it's a pile of rubble. Running through my head: Blackfoot, Pawnee, Cheyenne, Crow, Apache, Arapaho...


The Rubble Formerly Known as Apache Plaza

The 4 also travels south on Penn Avenue near my house. Of course, I always look for people I know when I get near their houses or workplaces, so as I passed, it crossed my mind that I could see Mark. That reminded me of a story involving the Daff in which the Daff was yelling "MARK!" over and over at someone whose name was John. Anyway, six blocks later, the Daff got on my bus! It's like I called him to it.

He was on his way to Red Lobster for coffee. He told me he's taking golf lessons and he likes it. And he's going to Orlando. He's pretty excited about seeing Walt Disney World again. As usual, it was fun to see him.

Overheard Comment of the Day, Friday, May 14:
"That's why everybody's recommending me to try out for semipro wrestling."

I drove the 17 Saturday. An old Ukrainian lady rode with me three times. She rode into NE Mpls with me with a bag of groceries. Then she rode with me back downtown again with an empty bag. She bought some fruit and vegetables at the stands on the Nicollet Mall, then caught the bus back to NE with me. I wondered if she couldn't carry everything in one trip or if she was just looking for something to do. On the third trip, she gave me a banana.

And one guy, who sort of waved me in to the bus stop like he was guiding an airplane, was really nervous about using his Super Saver card. I don't know if he's obsessive-compulsive or something, but he was worried about me touching it if it didn't work. A lot of those cards are the wrong thickness and don't work properly. He told me that bus drivers touch them and then they don't work. He didn't even want to show it to me, much less put it into the reader. I convinced him that I wouldn't touch it and when it didn't work, I convinced him to show it to me. It was perfectly valid, so I'm not really sure what was going on with that guy.

I think I saw Jenny Elkins, too. Her URL, jennyelkins.com, was painted on her rear bumper and it doesn't seem to be working. But if you scroll down on this page, you can see a lamp she made.

5/11

Well, my scooter seems to be having problems. It's stalling out on me- pretty much the same problem that caused the spill, but it doesn't seem like a big deal. I hope it just needs a small adjustment.

I'm doing a hold down this week. The NicWit alerted me to it and he may regret that he did. He's on vacation this week, but I might bid for it again next week and I have more seniority than he does. Of course, someone above me might think it looks pretty good. We'll see. It was nice to be done at 7:30 Saturday night and then have the next two days off.

I drove the 21 today. An African-American (born and raised in MN) IHOP waitress was asked by a customer today whether they had pancakes in Africa. It's worth mentioning that the IHOP where she works is across the street from the Mall of the Universe.

I also drove the 4. One terminal is at the 82nd Street Station. There's a driver's facility there with restrooms and vending machines. One of the vending machines has tempting and delicious Act II Butter Lover's microwave popcorn in it. Of course, there isn't a microwave there to actually pop it...

After the 4, I deadheaded over to the Veterans Home to do a trip on the 20. It overlooks the Mississippi River and there are some really old buildings on the grounds. We lay over near two particularly old buildings. They look like they should be haunted by ghosts of Civil War veterans. So every time I'm there, I'm ready for the passenger who gets on the bus... and never gets off [cue spooky music].

5/9

Big news! Congratulations to Eric and Nancy! They're engaged.


click for larger pic...

I have the day off today. I got to take my first ride on my scooter. It was most excellent. It'll be a little while before I take the road test to get my motorcycle endorsement, but I got along pretty well.

Then I went to Nancy's house and hung out with her and Eric. Eric got out the grill and made us some tasty treats. And we broke out some of Nancy's souvenirs from Thailand. I didn't have much, but I did have a headache for about an hour.


I think one of the red words is Thai for formaldehyde.
click for larger pic...

I had 1:00 call Friday afternoon. I was hoping to get out of there before 9:00 and do something with Kassie. Instead, three drivers got sick and I stayed until 10:45 to drive to the Roller Garden in St. Louis Park, pick up twelve kids and drop them off along Lake Street.

But it turns out that it was a good thing that I stayed to do it. The Roller Garden run is sort of infamous with drivers, I suspect because many of them don't like kids. I like kids, so I wasn't dreading it or anything. Anyway, the Urban League sends volunteers to chaperone the ride. I was sitting around the garage waiting to get ready to go and one of the chaperones walked in. I said hello, he did the same and I continued to watch a show about the city of Troy and he read the paper.

I pre-tripped the bus, then went back in to let the chaperones know that I was ready to go. When I did that, the chaperone to whom I'd said hello said, "CJ Camp!" to which I replied, "Jerry Starks!" I had not recognized him at all before that. Ha. We were choir dorks together in high school.

So we got caught up a little bit and did some reminiscing as well. It was really cool to see him.

I'm still doing a lot of the 17. I saw 17 Lady for the first time since the strike. She was wearing a Stand Up Frank's t-shirt and a Stand Up Frank's jacket with her name on it (see 5/1). Excellent. She said that she was happy to see me. At first, I wasn't sure that she remembered me again. But I guess she did.

And finally, here's a quality photo of Kassie and me.


click for larger pic...

5/6

I had a pretty uneventful day.

While I was driving the 21, we heard a car crash. The whole bus was trying to see what happened, but it was behind us. I could see it when I pulled away and it didn't look too bad.

Apache Plaza is a pile of rubble. I had a brief layover there on the 4. I'd heard it was gone, but it was kind of cool to see nothing where that depressing ex-mall used to be.

Oh, and I got an Outstanding Operator Award for 2003 today. I think that means I showed up for work when I was supposed to and didn't cause any accidents. I get twelve hours of paid leave as a result.

I don't want to sound ungrateful, because I'll happily take all the paid time off that they'll give me. And I know the reality of the workplace in this country is such that this kind of thing is probably commonplace... but seriously. Once again, just like getting commendations for calling streets, I'm getting rewarded for simply doing what should be expected of me. Showing up for work on time and not causing accidents is over half of what the job entails. I know I sound like some kind of old guy, and maybe I am, but even though I totally scored in this deal, it still bugs me.

5/6

I managed to talk Kassie out of "13 Going on 30," and we saw "The Ladykillers." As far as the Coen Brothers go, it's no "Fargo," "Raising Arizona" or "Miller's Crossing," but I did think it was quite funny. I didn't even mind Tom Hanks. Not recommended for those who don't like dark comedy.

I talked to Bob at Scooterville yesterday. My scooter is fixed and ready to go.

5/5

I'm enjoying my days off. I went over to Wyatt and Christina's house yesterday. We had a Yahtzee good time.

Steve is finally mellowing out, but he still managed to get some mud on my jeans. Wyatt made dinner, then they had a softball game. Then we watched the Timberwolves lose.

Sounds like I'll be enjoying a movie with Kassie this evening. But why she wants to see "13 Going on 30" is beyond me...

5/4

After a relatively grueling week of nine- and ten-hour work, I was happy to get a 2:00 call yesterday. I get tired of sitting in the driver's seat after about seven-and-a-half hours on the bus, so the extra couple of hours can really make a difference. And four days in a row of that gets to be a bit much for me. I really hoped that I'd go out on a stub in the afternoon for a few hours, then get out of there by 9:30 or so.

Instead, I got handed a ten-hour piece on the 2. Thank god for the 2; at least it was the 2.

As I pulled into a bus stop on Franklin Avenue, I saw two people (and their daughter) who I only know online. In fact, I mentioned here that Dr. Toxic emailed me while I was on strike. I've seen pictures, so I knew it was them. I honked and we talked briefly. That was pretty cool.

Someone left a book on my bus. "A Problem From Hell" : America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power. I started to read it and realized that I wanted a copy. There's a new book store near one of the 2's layovers, so I went in there and found it. I think it's one of those books I should have already been aware of, but we all know I'm not as well read as I should be...

5/3

I drove the 28 Saturday night. I haven't driven that route very much and it was a nice break from all the 17 I've been seeing lately.

The 28 lays over at Southdale mall. On one trip, I went inside to use the restroom and get some iced tea. On my way out the door, a group of people who just got off a bus passed me. I got a glimpse of a kid with a bloody forehead. But other than that, nothing seemed unusual about him. I thought to myself that it was almost as if he'd put on makeup to shock people at the mall. Except that I didn't think it looked like makeup. I decided that he'd probably fallen while skateboarding.

So as I turned toward my bus and I moved out of the crowd of people, one person was still standing near the buses. The Daff! We talked briefly. As usual, he demanded to know why I wasn't driving the 18. And he told me that he wished I had the day off.

I pulled my bus around to load up for the trip downtown. A lady got on and asked about Fairview Southdale hospital. She was concerned about a kid who had been hit on the forehead with a hammer. Sure enough, the bloody kid was on the phone inside the door. She said that he told her he had been hit a couple hours earlier and that he felt OK.

Last night I found this in the parking lot at the garage (the pic's a thumbnail):

I drove the 6. Since I went full time, I have been on the extra board every work pick except one. (The extra board is made up of drivers who fill in for people who are sick, on vacation, don't show, etc.) For one pick, I picked nine-hour work. I didn't mind it too much, except for the fact that I worked Thursday-Sunday nights. The 6 that I did last night was my Sunday night work. It was as nice as I remember it being.

A guy from New York rode with me for a little while. He looked like Arnold Horshack and talked like Vinnie Barbarino.

Later, as I pulled into a bus stop at 50th and France, a lady in a car pulled in front of me and then tried to back up. But she was, you know, in front of me, meaning that I was, well, behind her. I gave her a bit of my horn and she opted to put her car into drive and take the right turn. I have no idea where she thought she was going to go. All the parking spots behind the bus stop were taken. That is, she planned to park in the bus stop. Anyway, a sight impaired guy (with a white cane and dark glasses) was standing a couple feet from the car, waiting for the bus. As soon as I honked, he pointed at the car and laughed.

He got on the bus and said, "I'm not the only one who's blind! Even I could see she was going the wrong way!"

5/1

It's been pretty quiet on my buses.

I drove the 2 Thursday night. Even the Connect-the-Drunks part of the route was pretty tame.

I was on a layover on Hennepin near Franklin when a guy knocked on my door. He wanted to get to St. Paul, and given his condition, I thought the easiest thing for him to do would be to walk 50 feet from where he was standing to the bus stop by Sebastian Joe's, get on any bus that stopped there and then catch a 21 at the Uptown Station. And I even suggested that he just tell the driver that he needed to get to St. Paul, so he wouldn't have to remember the details.

Well, I had a pretty decent layover. Half an hour later I started my bus and there was that guy again. I know for a fact that several buses had gone by since I had spoken with him. So I repeated my instructions and then I had to leave. I circled the block to get back on Franklin Avenue and I looked to see if he was standing at the bus stop. He wasn't.

Last night, for the second Friday night in a row, I drove the 17 for ten-and-a-half hours. If I somehow get that work again next week, I guarantee that I'll be sick and unable to work.

I ran late almost all day, which for me, is pretty annoying. I don't mind the occasional late trip, but it really gets old after a few hours. Personally, I think some of the schedulers do their work at Stand Up Frank's. (And I can't find a decent link to explain that Stand Up Frank's is generally considered the place to get the strongest drinks in town.)

 

April '4