Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stories from the defunct Trimet Confidential blog

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A Holiday Poem For All You Bus Drivers & Fans Asleep on the Subway My Christmas Time Screw UP Regional Transit From Portland To Seattle America’s Melting Pot Is Mass Transit. Videos Of Me? The Great ICE Storm 2009 Who Are You, Who Who Who Who Trimet Confidential Rides Again Trimet Confidential One Bus Drivers story as he moves the greater Portland Metro Area Sunday 27Dec2009 A Holiday Poem For All You Bus Drivers & Fans DateSunday, December 27, 2009 at 1:12PM So we are here at the end of another year. 2009 says goodbye just as 2010 roars right in. We all know that our calendars is just a construct, made by us, to serve us and has no real connection to the physical world where ever day something ends and something starts. However, one cannot help but treat the end of the years as something special, something important. New years is a time for reflection and a time for us to commit to something even if we know it’s something we are not going to accomplish. New years in many ways becomes a transition between what we are and what we would like to be. So here is my resolution. In the last year I have used this blog to do two things, one showed the drivers are human and two to show that everyone can take action to make a better world one person at a time. I’m not much for big causes. I’m big on you and me and fixing things here in our world. I think I have plumbed that as much as I can and so this year I plan to be a little more of the bulldog a little more of an advocate. You see there are those that would try to convince you that drivers are evil, stupid brutes and then there are those who focus on the bad as a way of furthering their own aims. For the Oregonian it’s increase circulation when what ever flavor of the month complaints come around, for the goof balls in the Riders Unions it’s recognition for their otherwise unknown self appoint importance. For Trimet management it will be how much we are over paid and over privileged. So this year, I’m going to call them as I see them. When I see the wrong, I’m calling it out. I will be fair and honest but I won’t just sit back. I’m not turning this blog into some sort of crusader manifesto. I will not change what I do just add to the mix; of what I already do. Humor, stories and love will still be my calling card. Once in a while though BANG! I will put up my dukes for a little fighting. Especially the Oregonian better beware because I’m on to them and their binary reports that are either informational about the system. “New max line opening” and always crappy about operators “Look what they’re doing now” Ok back to the fun. As you’ve read the one of the hot zones for Trimet is around Clackamas Town Center Mall at Christmas. It’s a very busy mall and our stops and termination point for the MAX train is there inside the mall. So is our lay over, where we get food, water and bathrooms and if we are lucky a few minutes to stretch our legs. Around Christmas time it takes a half hour to get through the mall or longer. Left unchecked this would suck up have the buses on the east side and spit them out an hour late. Something has to be done But what? You know what this calls for? A holiday poem about driving a bus! Happy Holidays my friends. Without you and all your love I don’t know what I would do. Have fun. The Phantom Layover Christmas to new years such fun and such cheer But Clackamas Town Center the bus drivers fear. Cars in a line as far as you can see Buses as late as a bus drivers can be. Each year this is always a pain Each year guess what? It’s always the same. Remodel, redesign or change traffic flow Add turn lanes, add cross walks.. nothing but slow Bus system text messages we receive alerting beware! Don’t go in to the Mall but then the question, Where? Where do we go when things all get jammed What’s the idea, what is the plan? One day we circle in one drive and out No bathrooms, no water we sit and we pout The next day we have flaggers that ease the pain We charge through the mall using turn lanes. The next day we layover in the middle of the street Then slip into the mall without missing a beat. Every day we try as hard as we can Every day we’re hit with a new transit plan Then last night it happen isn’t a joke Last night it happened everything broke. The day after Christmas shopper descended in mass The message went out, a reroute at last! Go here, then go there, turn left and turn right Like playing hide and seek with your bus late at night. We had never done anything like it before To move our layover so far from the stores. Directions were bad the night very dark We all drove around looking to park. At intersections other lost buses we shrugged and we waived As some of us went this way some of us stayed. Way over here and way over there we went Until all our breaks were finally spent. Everyone pissed, everyone yelling it’s unfair To look for a layover that isn’t even there. So back we all drive bladders busting with pain Start our runs to enjoy two hours of pain. Legs are knotted, back spasms start to flare All because of a layover that wasn’t ever there. KISS Keep it simple stupid, you will here people say Oh no not Trimet, not on this fateful day. Read you’re your bus message system text In the dark, while your lost but don’t get in a wreck. Calls for help went forward on radiophones No changes forthcoming from management clones. From on high silence nothing... zip Maybe they hoped it would be clear on our next trip. People in the freezing wind at stops were all pissed “Where is my bus I got work I can’t miss” What’s your name, what’s your number I’m calling your boss When I tell them the buses they want are all very lost. I would love you to call and complain But nothing will change it all stayed the same. Blaming the bus drivers was really unfair They were lost looking for a layover not really there. Now I’m sure on a map the plan all looked well They drove it in trucks by daylight oh how swell Got here and go there turn left and turn right. Turns out to be Greek in the dark of the night. No info, no plan, no change, no fix Drive in the dark, drive in the sticks Sometimes in life things go wrong even if it’s unfair But adapting a plan shows somebody cares But when nothing changes no matter how upwardly screwed It’s someone saying “oh drivers F.U.” The plan never changed the drivers were screwed Now people wonder why driver are rude. Drivers I talked too agreed all the same Just drive into the mall and take all the blame. Who cares if it takes and hour off our day We will get to bathrooms we all will get paid. Then, oh then, how the management clones will all wine But I’ll use the bathroom and I’ll feel fine. I will do it without worry, without a pinch of care I won’t look for layovers that aren’t really there. The End Are you ready to have a great year? 2010 will be the best year ever for you and me and Portland. We can all make it so. 2010 The year everything changed. I’m out of here, got to drive a bus Roll Easy My Friends, Roll Easy --Dan Author[Dan Christensen] | CommentPost a Comment | Share ArticleShare Article Wednesday 23Dec2009 Asleep on the Subway DateWednesday, December 23, 2009 at 11:42PM Ok a little cross promotion for another transit related blog. This pic is from Asleep on the subway a catalog of pics about people...can you guess? that's right sleeping on the subway. Obviously some of funny but the creator seemed to have run out of steam in the last month or so. Check out Blog at Its worth it for the commentary. Author[Dan Christensen] | CommentPost a Comment | Share ArticleShare Article Tuesday 22Dec2009 My Christmas Time Screw UP DateTuesday, December 22, 2009 at 7:54PM So wow, here we are at the end of the year. Everyone is gearing up for the holidays and heading to the mall. That’s ok for me I get paid by the hour so mall traffic converts to bus driver pay in my book. Its all money in theory, then it happens… You make a mistake.. for me it was something I did last week. Before I get on with the story I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all the great bus driver at Trimet. To all those who have helped me out over the last three years. I would be suffering greatly were it not for the help of these wonderful people. Nothing is better then walking into work and feeling at home, surrounded by friends and supported by your co-workers. In my years on this earth I have to tell you of all the places I have worked nothing beats walking into Powell Garage. A transit garage is only as good as it’s station agents and Powell has some of the best. They have always helped me when they could, like getting me off work a little early the day before my operation. Moving my start time when someone crashed into me on the road. The men and women station agents at Powell are second to none and they deserve high praise. The Mechanic live in their own world, I seldom see them and deal with them even less. All the mechanics at Trimet do a great job to be sure. That so many busses and so many old busses even run at all is a tribute to their diligent and constant efforts. Some busses are out for twenty hours in a day, almost every day. Think of how long a car would last driven like that. Another unsung hero is the people who clean our busses fill the fluids and wash the outside. Rain, shine or snow this crew is hard at work. Every day when I get in my bus for work I know it’s going to be clean. They do a thankless job that starts when most people are going to sleep and ends in the wee hours of the morning. These men and woman are half machine and half Vampire bat and are nothing but helpful. The yard crew of any transit system is a measure of how dedicated a transit company is to doing a good job. Cut corners here and it shows. Ok the thanks are done Now My Confession I screwed up. Not just little screwed up, I screwed up big time. Not “don’t turn on the blender before you put the top on or “don’t forget to wipe your feet before romping across the across your newly cleaned carpet”. I’m talking about slap your forehead screwed up. The kind of screw up that makes you think. Should I even be doing this job? When it is heavy traffic time the worse place to be driving is a mall. Now Trimet has this belief system of integrating transit centers with malls. This idea works great 98% of the years but in the weeks leading up to charismas this idea is a bust. On this particular day I was driving two buses we will call the first one the long run #72, and the second one the short Roundy-round #79. One of the strange artifacts of Trimet thinking is the split shift. For me it was the long run first for a four hour shift, going in and out of the mall on one end then driving all the way across Portland. The problem is driving through the mall makes you so late that you start in a great big time hole. Now it’s raining and traffic is heavy because of all the shoppers and you cant make up any time so you fall further and further behind. Each time I reach my end of a run break I’m already late to leave. So I run to the bathroom, buy some water and dive back into it. The longer break I take at one end, steals from the other end so you have to move to stay even remotely on time. By remotely I mean not on time at all. The problem started with my relief point. You see I have a half hour from when the new driver takes over the long run at 82nd and Powell and the time I have to pick up my new run at Clackamas Town Center. Usually no problem but around Christmas. big problem! It means I have to stand in the same bus I just turned over to another driver and hold on. Jumping in and out of the bus to let people get on and get off because it’s crowded. By the time we get to the short round-round run.. yup, I’m late. Same problem with the short little Roundy round run except it’s more so because I have to hit the mall way more often then the long run. I arrive at each break late to leave for my next run. This goes on for almost five more hours until I snap. We have a great communication system that is not always fast but it seldom goes down. For me it had to go down this night. I was unable to contact my dispatch and I was at my wits end. For most people regular beaks and lunch times are covered by law but not for bus drivers. You have to make it happen some days and that some day was now. When I was at my whit’s I was grumpy, pissed off and mean. I pulled in to the turn around and said “Big Dan you get 15 minutes out of your day to stretch the knots out of your leg, eat something, drink something and rest up.” This combined with the time I was already late eat up almost one entire round trip. Then, At the last moment it hit me. I checked my schedule… half a trip left.. Then I checked the schedule book. Usually two busses do this run but a quick check of the schedule showed me that I was the only bus on the rout this late at night effectively doubling how long people had to wait out there. I was the only bus. I felt so bad. I started my last run, supposedly a one way trip without a return to the mall by apologizing to everyone I picked up. When I saw people across the street waiting for a returning bus that would never come. I stopped picked them up and told them I would make a trip back to the mall even if I was supposed to go back to the garage. My intention had not been to get out of work, it was to take a break to remained human not a nasty grumpy bus driver. I promised them all I would get them to the end of the line and back. I heard everyone’s storey, how many were going to work, how many were picking up kids, how many had family waiting for them, how many had connections. The more I heard the worse I felt. I had not considered the human impact my decision would have. If had it to do all over I would have sucked up the courage to take my break earlier to minimize the impact. I did a late return trip, picked up a few more people and got them to their connections except one guy who needed a max train that would not go where he needed it to go for forty minutes because we missed the early train. I could not bare it. His work was ten minutes from my garage and after hearing the worry in his voice and seeing the tears in his eyes about how much he needed this part time job, I promised him I would get him there. Tried to call dispatch again but nothing was working so I headed back to the garage with a brief side trip to the hospital where this guy was the night fire watch and strangely, was named Dan as well. When he got off he told me he was going to say a prayer for me. I asked him to say a prayer for all bus drivers. He laughed and said he would. He made it on time but I was forty minutes late getting back to the garage. I didn’t feel bad about taking a break but I felt awful about the impact it could have had on others if I had not made that extra trip. I didn’t write it up for over time because I felt that it was half my fault and didn’t want to deal with it. I was done. The Christmas rush puts pressure on us all. Pressures can cloud your thinking as it clouded mine. Sometime under pressure we do things or say things that are the opposite of what the Christmas season is all about. Sometime you have to go that extra mile to make up for the mistakes you make or the people you impact. I did the best I could, I fixed it the best I could. Nothing more to say except Merry Christmas! Roll Easy Friends, Roll Easy. Update on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 at 11:40PM by Registered Commenter[Dan Christensen] Ok so today I had the same run, The same situation and this time it all ended differently. This time our location/communication system was running and before I reached the breaking point our wonderful dispatch called and sent out a bus to cover a run while I had a break... That's the way it's done. No guilt and I got a break. YES! Author[Dan Christensen] | CommentPost a Comment | Share ArticleShare Article Thursday 17Dec2009 Regional Transit From Portland To Seattle DateThursday, December 17, 2009 at 11:09AM I don't know who did this video but it's a great overview of regional transit. Author[Dan Christensen] | CommentPost a Comment | Share ArticleShare Article Thursday 17Dec2009 America’s Melting Pot Is Mass Transit. DateThursday, December 17, 2009 at 9:36AM Police to criminals, from left to right politically from Asian to African, South American to Icelanders they all have been on my bus. Over the years I have met so many people and cultures and belief systems that I feel like I’ve been at the UN. In fact in one bus load of Route 72 you may indeed have the entire UN represented.. maybe not everyone maybe just the Security Council. It’s funny to have people from China, Sudan and Russia all talking on the bus at the same time along with the two languages from the US, English and horribly bad English. It’s a strange mix on the bus but over the years some outstanding things have happened even with people you can’t understand. Route #57 I drove this run from Beaverton to Forest Grove and it has a high proportion of Hispanic riders. There was one family I will call the Aces, Every day the Aces went to work on one trip one way while their kids hopped the bus the other way on my return trip going to school. I gave them a hard time and told them their parents told me to watch them. These kids were already well behaved but when I mentioned their parents they were angles, even going so far as keeping other youths in line. Years later I was back in that neighborhood and had a drunken passenger trying to bring his open container on the bus. I could not understand him because he was speaking Drunk Spanish or Drunkish. I tried to tell him over and over he could come on and I would get him home but I could not have the open container on board. Out of no where the Aces showed up on their way to a wedding. They were dressed immaculately and there were brothers and sisters and grandmothers and grandchildren. They saw me in trouble and the women came over proceeded and brow beat that poor drunken guy. Now this drunken guy would have punched anyone that got in his face but not women and drunk he could see that was not the way to go. He turned into a sheep and dumped his drink and got aboard. If you ever want to hand out a free ticket do it for those who help you out they all got day tickets. I don’t drive in that neighborhood very often being stationed across town but I have big love for the Aces. Route #72 The Jerry Springer Run: I have no reason why but I have a soft spot for the Russians. I have no genetic relationship with them but there is something about the older men and women who get on board my bus. I can usually pick them out instantly. I have learned greetings and good byes in Russian. I have learned that Orthodox Christmas is on another day then Catholic Christmas. I have lots of fun with them and love to see their eyes light up when I great them in my, no doubt strange accented, Russian greetings. I even have a nickname with them that stems from my hair. If I let my hair grow out of its usual buzz cut a strange feature of my head becomes apparent and that is a ridge of hair in the middle of my head that bristles straight up giving me a fake-hawk look that is so loved by hipsters everywhere. For the last ten years this hair feature has had many names. I always kept it hidden with a series of flat top and crew cuts but I have been letting it go a bit more so from time to time it sticks in stubborn defiance of coming and liberal application of heavy hair gel. To the Russians I’m Akula or shark. I only knew the word because I read hunt for red October five times and an Akula is a class of Russian Submarine. Last year in the horrible “once a thirty year ice storm” that gripped Portland I was waiting at a stop to take over a bus. The driver was an hour late and though I was dressed warm, I was not dress one hour in freezing cold snow and thirty a mile an hour wind warm. I saw my bus and ran for it like a kid after an ice-cream wagon in July. Then I heard a frail weak call from someplace behind me. “Akula! Akula!” I paused and looked back. There stood a small stooped Russian woman holding my computer bag. I had set it down so I could jump around and get warm in the shelter and in my excitement I had left it there. She had got off the bus I was getting on and saw me walk right away form my computer satchel I ran back and thanked her over and over. She smiled a gold tooth smiled and every time I see here now she reaches over and touches my green carrier for my laptop and say “Goodt” I want to hug her. Route #9: they were from the Philippines but spoke English very well. I had signed the nine and was on a split so I worked the morning rush hour had a few hours off and worked the evening run. I like the 9 because it goes through my old Ainsworth stomping grounds a neighborhood that has seen it’s ups and downs but is seeing lots more ups now days. I remember a time when shooting were so rare that one time when I was in middle school we heard gun fire we ran towards it…like…well like kids chasing an Ice cream truck in July. Years form then in the heyday of gang violence we all learned to dive for cover when you heard shooting but hey this was the early 80s so we ran to check it out. We found a neighborhood tough laying there bleeding one policemen trying to help him and get a statement at the same time. Down the street his girl friend literally holding a smoking pistol looked on as another policemen was asking her to relinquish the fire arm from her hand. She was smoking a cigarette and looked as if nothing had happened. She gave up the pistol without a thought as if handing over a something she couldn’t have cared less about. “What happened Scotty?” the policeman asked. He was the kind of guy that was always having issue with the police so they all knew his name. “The bitch! Shot me!” He sputtered. Blood pumped from the hold in his back. “What were you doing Scotty?” the policemen asked. “Running! Man! RUNNING!.” Said Scotty and then he slipped away. His last words a punch line for some Policeman’s “No shit there I was” story I only mention this grave story of Irony because that house is still there and the Philippine family called it home. At first there were some contentions between this family and myself. The father liked to wait in his house and stay warm in the morning and when he saw me coming he would dash out and run in front of my bus so he could slow me up and reach the stop. I kept telling him that I would not pick him up if he ran in the DEATH ZONE in front of my bus. I knew he understood but he played the “I no speak English card” every week I kept threatening and he kept smiling. One Saturday I was rolling up the road empty and zip, out dodges a girl of twelve in a red dress. I slam on my brakes as hard as I could knowing I was empty and no one would be hurt. The bus skidded and stop without contacting the girl, the girl on the other hand seeing the bus screeching at her froze and fell over crying. No contact with bus but she was scared to death. I leapt from the bus and ran to help her. I looked up and out came the Philippine father who thanked me profusely for not running his daughter over and with a sudden bust of English understanding promised that he would never run in front of the bus again. He shook my hand and promised over and over. It never happened again. He would come out of his house and wave to me. I would wave to him and he would cross behind my bus and I would happily wait the few seconds it took him to get in. Seconds I have to spare for those who are safe. What did happen is we became friends and for the last three weeks of that sign up every Saturday he would be at the stop with a plate of Lumpia (not sure if that’s the spelling) see after that we became friends and he found out I loved Philipino food. Three Saturdays in a row a huge paper plate of Lumpia all for me. SCORE! There are some things we all understand no matter where we are from. The power of a smile, the tone we use all speak for us even if the words we use are not understood. Overtime a smart bus driver (Not always me I tell you) will learn to use them as the key to get his job done and to make people happy even if you can’t understand a thing. Fairness is also universal and most people know inherently if they are being treated fair or not. Some like to get away with things but that is not determined by race or culture. As a Reverend pointed out one Sunday after watching a kid trip on his baggy pants while running for the bus. “The stupid apple falls in everyone’s back yard.” The above does not happen every day, over three years that I have been driving the bus these are the exceptions but over all the Melting Pot of mass transit works fairly well and sometimes, if your lucky it works out very very well. Roll easy my friends. Roll easy and smile. Author[Dan Christensen] | CommentPost a Comment | Share ArticleShare Article Page 1 2 Next 5 Entries » Copyright © 2006, [Dan Christensen]. All rights reserved. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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