A Simple Trimet Transit Story

Life can unfold on a bus in ways you don’t expect. Sometimes it happens all at once and sometimes it happens throughout the day. Now as a bus driver you tend to stay focused on your job as much as possible so it’s easy to let things go without really noticing them. As a blogger I also tend to want to focus on bigger issues and stories. In truth real life happens in small bits and seldom all at once. In the great scheme of things we bus drivers only get a little single snapshot of people going about their daily life, seldom any more. Sometimes, just sometimes, those snapshots add up to a story and with any luck you are there to put the pieces together. 

I drove the 14-Hawthorne bus yesterday. For those of you not familiar with Portland it’s a 94 block loop from downtown, through a major bicycle exchange area, then up tight roads in one of the more hip places in Portland, then out Foster road, one of those major, cut right across the grid of Portland on a diagonal, roads that we do so well. It is here that we lay our story. 

Special thanks to my photographer assistant LJ

Special thanks to my photographer assistant LJ

She, Itallianish, curly hair, 25, stocky build, broad smiling face. Dressed in major store uniform, I pick her up outbound. She pulls out her worn wallet and opens it up and shows me her pass, it’s one of three, Two adults and a youth. She flashes a smile that says “I’m glad to be done with work” and shuffles on back into the bus. One of many hard workers I see in the day. A three seconds of interaction then… 

goodbye! never see you again. 

I roll on.

Later she rings the bell late, I manage to pull over. I look at her in the interior mirror. She mouths I’m sorry. I smile. It happens. She exits the bus by the rear door. 

Goodbye! never see you again.

I roll on.

Old photo of Hawthorne traffic. 

Old photo of Hawthorne traffic. 

It’s a while later and I’m on my return trip heading into downtown and I catch sight of her. Two kids in tow. One is about six by the look and one is about eight both boys and they are excitedly waiting for a bus going the other way. One boy is trying to balance on the edge of the curb the other is running around the trees near the stop. She is looking down the street for a bus and checking her phone. 

I see them for just a moment, then, Goodbye, never see you again. 

I roll on. 

During my next trip I pick him up from the Max Train stop. He looks beat, maybe almost thirty, He is carrying way too many work clothes for the weather and a white smock. He is one of those lucky people who work in a refrigerated unit someplace. During the summer that has got to be an enviable job if you ask me but lugging the extra clothing, what a pain. He looks like a cross between Tom Cruise and a weight lifter and he is dead tired. He comes in, shows me his ticket and has a seat, not a word.  

Good bye! I think, Never see you again. 

Dangers of driving up Hawthorne are many, tight roads is one of them. 

Dangers of driving up Hawthorne are many, tight roads is one of them. 

I roll on. 

At 52nd He gets off. He rings the bell then fumbles with his extra warm clothing, my mom always said layers keep you warm. I wonder if he knows my mom. He slips out the back door and a woman in the front scoffs at how long it took him to get off the bus. I want to say something to her but decide that I will never see her again so…

goodbye! 

I roll on. 

On my return trip I see them… like a piece of a puzzle I see the Italianish woman with two wild boys, now tugging on her arms all excited and the “cold weather” man all together at a stop going the opposite way. The kids are going crazy, dad is smiling and mom looks like she could go for a snow-cone. (The greatest treat ever made for warm weather.) They are happy and waiting for a bus. It’s Rush hour so there are plenty of busses. 

It amazes me that these two are connected. I literally have hundreds of people on my bus every hour and yet these two are together. 

Goodbye! beautiful family never see you again. 

I roll on. 

An hour later I’m on my last round trip. Climbing out of downtown traffic, I’m cruising through the Hip Hawthorn district. It’s sunny and warm so there is even more people here then usual. I’m all smiles and happy because, LAST TRIP YO! Even road work slowing me down doesn’t break my stride. 

CLICK! Another piece of the story. 

I see them at the stop. Italianish woman, “cold work” guy and the two crazy boys jumping around all excited like kids at Christmas. (Sorry that’s winter holiday for the PC crowd) There is someone new with them. It’s a large plastic pet tote and those boys are zoomed in on what’s inside. 

I pull to the stop, open my doors, they file in. Mother herding excited youths like a cowboy on a cattle drive. Father carrying pet tote with one new addition to the family. There inside is a gawky, all big feet and ears, Labrador puppy, as excited as the boys about his new family. 

They sit down but those boys are all abuzz. If they could figure a way to harness the energy of young boys they could overcome the need for fossil fuels. Just hook them up to generators and release the puppies. 

I see you family, I see your story. 

I roll on. 

Where I saw them boarding they ring the bell and I let them off. Kids jumping, mother following, Father carrying the new addition to the family. 

Goodbye! I think. I hope to see you all again really soon.

I roll on. 

This was the story of both asingle family and in a way of every family. Young and making their way, a two worker family trying to get bye and saving money riding the bus. They have two boys and now, now they have a new member to their family. That could be anyone's story but this days it was theirs… well mine and theirs. 

That’s it. Nothing Earth shattering. Sometimes that’s the way it is on a bus. Nothing big, just regular old ordinary, remarkable and fantastic life. On this day I got a rare glimpse at the entire story unfolding, not just a hello/goodbye single snapshot. 

Roll Easy out there and I hope you find your own puppy really soon. 

Live Performance at Humanity On Wheels 3

Hey Everyone I'm doing a live show. It's time for Kick Ass Oregon History and Trimet Diaries "Humanity on Wheels 3" It's sort of everything about Trimet rider and driving and getting around Portland.

It's 7:30 Tuesday April 5th 2016 at the Jack London Bar in Downtown Portland. This cool bar is Located under the Rialto Room at 529 SW 4th

Love to see you there. Let's sell this place out.