another iTunes coincidence

On shuffle, Paul Westerberg followed the Replacements.



once again...

Someone at M*tro Tr*nsit has gotten a bit casual with my name. This is my new ID. Someone else did the same thing when they assigned my MT email address. I am seriously annoyed.

I don't go by Chris. I've never gone by Chris. You can call me Christopher if you'd like. My Auntie Diane does that and I like it. You can call me CJ if you'd like. Pretty much the rest of the world calls me that and I like it. My dentist and my swimming instructors and my driving instructor called me Chris. That's it. But I didn't care because I didn't like them anyway.

And yes, I, too, find it amusing that I get so riled up about being called Chris one day after I didn't give a rat's ass about being called a pussy.



the 2

I pulled up to a small crowd at 26th Avenue and Franklin Avenue this evening. As they were boarding, a guy walked across the street in front of me. He was carrying two snow shovels. As he walked in front of me, I could hear him saying, "You're a good bus driver! I'm impressed! God bless you!"

And I, of course, assumed that he was going to be looking for a favor.

Sure enough, he told me that he didn't have any money, but that he was "only going" to ___. I explained to him that he still needed to give me $1.50. He said he needed to go find his money.

He walked to the back and set down his shovels.

I was watching traffic and pedestrians, so I wasn't watching him. I figured he'd come back up and give me a few cents. As soon as I pulled away from the stop, a woman who was sitting behind me and to my right jumped out of her seat. I thought she realized that she had wanted to get out at the stop where we had just been. But when I looked in my interior mirror, I saw the cause of her alarm. One of my passengers had his hand on the throat of Shovel Guy, and was saying something about how he was a paying customer. He called SG a drunk. (I had smelled it on him, too.)

I pulled over at the next stop. I told Shovel Guy that he had to get out. He was saying that he thought the other guy was going to shoot him.

I assumed that SG was the problem, and frankly, I didn't care if he wasn't. I don't usually need much of excuse to boot someone who hasn't paid or has shorted me.

He went to the back and grabbed his shovels. He came to the front and pulled out a pile of bills. OK, great, dude. You did have money all along. I told him to get out. He left, but not without running his mouth. I don't know what he said.

On my way back the next trip, I picked up the other guy again. He laughed when he saw me and said he hoped Shovel Guy wouldn't be on the bus again. I assured him that I wouldn't be letting SG back on. Then he told me that SG had spit at him, and he apologized (several times) for doing what he had done. I told him that I figured he hadn't started it and that I was more than happy to unload Shovel Guy. The guy told me that SG spent a lot of time in the area where I picked him up trying to hit up elderly people for change. The other guy told me that his mother lives near there and she's had trouble with SG, so he wasn't too happy with him to begin with.

Then, on my final trip of the evening, I pulled up to three people at Franklin and Chicago. The first two were young women. The last guy was, naturally, Shovel Guy. It was dark out so I didn't recognize him at first. But he got on and said, "I'm better now." I stared at him and told him to get out of my bus. He repeated "You're still a pussy!" over and over and something about how he'd find me again. But he got off the bus without incident. I'll remember him.

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I feel old.


season's greetings

...from our 'hood to yours!



accidents, other stuff

Yesterday, on the 23 line, I was waiting to finish my right turn onto Lake Street from Hennepin Avenue. The light was about to turn yellow. As I checked traffic to my left, I heard a THUD and looked back to my right. All I saw was a blue-green Chevrolet Cavalier and a lot of cans of food rolling down the street.

I had to ask my passengers if that car had just hit someone. It had. It was kind of weird. The driver didn't brake, at least that I could hear. He was clearly finishing off his turn in the yellow light. She must have been in his blind spot. I absolutely don't want to excuse not looking where you're going, but it happened in the middle lane, so the woman who got hit very likely should not have been there.

I hope she's OK. I haven't seen anything in the news, so I assume she's still alive.

I got to the 17W terminal yesterday up in Northeast and a street supervisor showed up. She asked me if I'd written an Operating Conditions Report about the westbound trip I was about to make. I hadn't. Apparently someone is having trouble with overload and time issues.

I've driven that work on Fridays in previous picks and this pick I drive it Monday and Friday. I've never had a real problem, but Mondays and Fridays tend to be lighter days of the week.

So the supervisor followed me and I kept it on time. But I noticed something interesting.

BREAKING NEWS (and it's not good):
Kassie just pointed out to me that Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, the food writer for our biggest local free weekly, City Pages, is leaving next month. Oh boy, does that suck. Unless Demko has written a cover story, I barely pick up CP anymore, other than to read Dara. Yeah, that poor paper has really declined ever since Village Voice Media put some turd named Kevin Hoffman in charge. And no, I don't know him, but I do know that a lot of really good writers have left that paper because of him.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh. I probably picked up 35 people on that trip and all but about five of them paid with cash! See, we have this great little thing called a Go-To Card now, and pretty much every route I drive has a large percentage of people who use it in one form or other.

I think the marketing department needs to get themselves to Northeast Mpls and spread the good word. That would certainly make that trip easier to keep on time!

I had to detour today on the 11 because there was a rollover on 3rd Avenue a couple blocks north of Franklin. As Kassie pointed out, it would take some serious effort to get going fast enough to roll a car in that area.
[update: the story, thanks to Kassie's sharp eyes]

Today, as I was waiting for a bus, a school bus pulled in to the convenience store across the street. The driver (I think) got out and went inside. About two minutes passed. Then someone inside the bus started honking the horn. The driver came out of the store, appeared to make a walk through on the bus, then went back inside. She was still inside when my bus showed up. I thought it was odd that a driver would stop at a store with kids on her bus. Maybe it wasn't the driver I saw. I don't know...

Jesse rode my bus this evening. He was our wedding photographer.

I have to get up very early in the morning. That does not please me.

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will he ever go back

click for large image?



home run, ho-hum


The Mitchell Commission report (pdf) came out today and listed a pretty large pile of cheaters. I'm sure America doesn't care enough about this for it to break major-league baseball, but a guy can dream, right?


the 2

I'm back driving bus again. It's been almost two weeks.

Today is my straight nine hours on the 2 line, a.k.a. Connect the Drunks, a.k.a. The Distracted, Disinterested, Desperate and Dangerous Driving Showcase. It went quite well, but I lost track of the number of other vehicles that either turned out in front of me or cut me off. It was the worst I've ever seen it today. Ah, well, it keeps me on my toes.

The highlight of the day was my brush with fame.

That's right, Mr. Chocolate Rain, Tay Zonday himself, rode my bus. He did not sing us a song.

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"It's" "true." "I" "always" "think" "this" "is" "funny."



last week

I spent last week teaching five new extra board drivers all of the routes we drive out of Nicollet.

You may recall that I used to work the extra board. It was a good way to (occasionally) get decent work when I had very little seniority. The extra board is a list of pieces of work. The work can get put on the board for a lot of reasons. I won't list all of the reasons, but when drivers are sick or haven't shown up, or take a vacation day or go to a Transit Ambassador or Safety Keys class for the day, their work gets added to the extra board.

The extra board gets created every day. The dispatcher who compiles the board needs to know by noon if a driver will be back to work the next day. If he doesn't know that a driver will be back, their work will go back on the board.

If a driver doesn't show up for work, and no one knew a day in advance that they wouldn't be there, a call driver has to cover it. On-call shifts are built into the board. Some can be picked, others get added to the mix. Call drivers sit at the garage and do bus changes, fill in trips for late or broken down buses, and go out for drivers who don't show up.

I really enjoyed working the extra board. I did something different every day. The drawback is that I never knew what I was doing on a particular day until 5:00 PM the day before, which is the earliest drivers can call in to get their work.

Anyway, the point is that to work the extra board, a driver has to know every route out of a garage and everything about each of those routes. It's a lot of information.

The drivers I trained last week each knew some of the routes they needed to know. But not everyone knew the same routes. Some knew parts of some routes, but not necessarily the same parts that others knew.

So we just pushed through. I can't remember if we actually looked at every single route out of Nicollet, but if we didn't, it was close.

Six bus drivers, one van. The only thing that everyone is guaranteed to have in common is buses. So what do we talk about? Buses. Bus stories. Passengers. Bus stories.


I'll confess that I'm guilty, too. But I try to keep my stories relevant, short and on the positive side of things.

The group I had was pretty good, really. Nice people. I heard plenty of negative comments about traffic, passengers, whatever, but it never got out of control. I've been in group situations with drivers where the negativity took over and it became a black swamp of bad stories. Thankfully, that never happened.

Sometimes when I tell people that we take drivers out to show them the routes, I get asked why we can't just give them a map and turn them loose.

Here is a map from a hand schedule. Our maps are similar, but with additional notes all over them.

It's not rocket science by any means, but it can get very confusing. There are turns and lane changes that need to be explained. For instance, on the route above, there's no way to know that to get to the Southdale Park and Ride, one turns into the second driveway on 69th. But for some pieces of work, we go into the first driveway and wait in a different place.

So I did a lot of talking. Way more talking than I like. I was hoarse every day. I didn't go to trivia on Wednesday night because I was sick of talking.

It was a nice week, though.

I have the next couple of days off. I might actually get holiday cards sent this year. We'll see.

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mmmmm, dessert

Perhaps you've clicked around here and found Kassie's blog, mmmmm, dinner. If you have, you know that Kassie makes some pretty great food. (Well, most of you have to settle for knowing it looks great.)

She doesn't usually make much in the way of desserts, though. I make cookies from time to time and I also like to make apple pie.

I wanted some dessert this evening. Yesterday I ate the last cookie from the last batch I made. It's all cold and snowy so I don't want to walk very far and I refuse to give the convenience store across the street my business. (Mostly because it's the neighborhood source for little scales, tiny baggies and single grape-flavored cigars.)

We're out of eggs; I can't make cookies tonight. So I just threw a little something together.

I call it Chocolat Banane Merde. (Looks kinda like poop. Tastes kinda like heaven.)

Sorry, the recipe is top secret!



pretty good day to wear purple

My old friend and roommate Kevin was in town this weekend. One of the activities he had planned was the Vikings game this afternoon. His dad and brothers (?) were going to make the trip from Sioux Falls. But, as you may know, we got some weather this weekend.

As a result of the poor weather, the University of Sioux Falls College playoff football game scheduled for yesterday was postponed until today. The Cougars have been ranked number one in the NAIA all year and a win would send them to the championship game.

Kevin's family opted to stay in Sioux Falls for the game and enjoy the 35-mph winds and below-zero windchills.

I opted to join him for the Vikings game. On the way in to the warm Metrodome, I couldn't figure out why the ticket was so inexpensive.

Ha ha! Fortunately, there weren't many people around us. We could have moved, as there were empty seats everywhere, but we didn't. It was kind of nice up there.

The Coo pulled out an 11-10 victory on a last-minute drive. Sweet.

The Vikes game was never in doubt. 42-10 over the Lions. Purple Jesus is back (116 yards on 15 carries) and the rest of the team actually looked pretty decent, too.

I was wearing brown.