The Most Dangerous Force On A Bus
I’m often asked by those outside of the bus driving community “What are the dangers of driving a bus.” I think it’s easy to say that most of the dangers are ones of attention, by that I mean paying attention to the road. I think however most people are interested in the non driving part of being a bus operator, the salacious tales of riders and their seedy and shocking problems and issues. Well I’m here to tell you right now that this week I discovered one of the most powerful and embarrassing forces ever unleashed on the Portland transit community. So sit back and let your voyeuristic tabloid inner demons out of there cages.
There is a secret power loose in this nation. A power that most normal people have never dreamed of. You may think that In this critical time, where the future of our country is being hotly debated in the election campaigning, that I was speaking of perhaps one of the candidates, Like Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, or maybe the fanatical followers of Bernie Sanders, nothing could be more wrong. The secret power I’m talking about, the one I witnesses on my bus would make Donald trump cry, Hillary tell the truth and Bernie, Bernie would buy a one way ticket to Sweden. (There I pissed off every political leaning)
Be ready to have your world shaken.
I think you should be sitting down, calm and collected when you read this. I think you should be in the right frame of mind because after reading this, you may feel like packing up your belongings and heading out of town to some mountain collective of survivalists.
You have been warned, continue at your own peril or if you would rather here is a link to a blog on knitting. http://www.yarnharlot.ca, There that should calm you down just a bit.
Ok The power I’m speaking of is… wait what am I thinking! I’m not going to give it up that easy, I tell stories. So here it is as it happened, that way we have a little drama right? That’s what you should do as a story teller, drama it up?
So my day of bus driving was going like just about every other day I have ever driven the bus. I was driving the 72 bus 82nd Ave/killingsworth or as we call it the Jerry Springer run. Here is the checklist you can depend on for the 72.
- Crowded…. Check
- Overcast…. Check
- Raining…. Check Duh! Portland!
- Heavy Traffic…. Check
- 10 minutes behind schedule…. Check
There were four of them, by the look they were late high school and for some reason my internal alarm was going off even before I opened the doors of my bus. To say they were tough looking was an understatement, they looked liked they were the guys, other tough guys looked at and said “Hey I wanna dress like that to look tough”
I’ve seen this look a hundred thousand times in the last nine years of bus driving. It doesn't matter who you are, what race or idea, what religion or belief. There is always someone acting the tough guy. In my mind there is a great big spinner, like on a gameshow, the clicking pointer ticks along illuminating different races and cultures until it lands on a selected group. On this day we had the hispanic tough guys.
As I opened the doors, I smiled and welcomed them aboard. They looked at me like I was liquid death. Even without looking their eyes said “F You” bus driver. I try not to read into anyone’s actions, I try to take people as they come but these guys… well they were hostile from the get go.
“Hey we don’t have money to ride,” said the first one. “So you can give us a ride down to Powell right.” As he said this his buddies were already by me, giving everyone on the bus the stink eye no matter who they were. No one measured up to these… Now I hazard to say hoods because who knows, I can only guess by what they were saying and what they were showing. They were showing young hoods by their uniforms and actions but who knows really. The bus became silent.
I did what I always do in these situations, I waved them in and rolled on. Oh sure some drivers who love to get punched, spit on, stabbed and shot at enjoy enforcing the fare. I, on the other hand, don’t feel like doing jack squat when someone boards like this. As long as they are safe, non-destructive and Non-Disruptive, I’m good as gravy.
I wish I could tell you that I was pleasantly surprised by these fine upstanding members of the Mexican… ( I say Mexican because they each had some sort of Mexican flag either on their shirts or jackets. Except one who had a Mexican football team logo on his) I wish I could tell you that they were not disruptive, weren’t trying to start problems, sadly I can’t. It wasn’t even a race problem because they were going after others who were Mexican as well.
Ask any driver and they will tell that this sort of thing is the hardest call to make on a bus. When riders are disruptive when do you step in? It’s not easy because sometimes your getting involved is like throwing a gallon of gas on a camp fire. Finally though I had enough, the atmosphere in the bus was on edge and I was worried for everyone including these tough kids.
As I pulled up to the next stop I gave them a canned and planned speech informing them that what they were doing was unacceptable blah! blah! blah! you get the picture. Their reaction to this was at first very hostile I was called a few choice names and every sat frozen in the bus feeling the tension rise.
I pulled to the next stop and took a moment to help two women on with their shopping. They were mid forties, short and were laughing and joking, They were Mexican as well and speaking very loudly and laughing. There was a wheel chair and I helped them aboard as well, then mounted up and was ready to roll.
Something funny occurred to me as I drove along, it worked! The tough guys were dead silent, not a peep out of them. They stopped horsing around, they stopped harassing other people around them. They were squeezed into the back seats and I couldn’t hear a peep out of them. It worked! For the first time a group of tough guy males were stopped by words. I was floored.
As people left at the next couple of stops they filed by and whispered “Good job.” giving me credit for shutting down the tough guys. I have to tell you I felt more than just a little pride, I mean I got verbal skills but did I level up someplace along the way? Had I become a Grand Master of Bus Drivers. A Bus Fu Master able to calm people who were not even speaking English?
It was because I was at a long ass light that I witnessed what happened next.
For those of you who don’t like verbal assaults you may want to stop reading now.
The two shopping women I had helped on upfront started talking very fast and one pulled out a phone. There was a pause then a ringtone filled the air from the back of the bus, it was a Chivas De Guadalajara ringtone, oh yes I know Mexican Soccer.
The woman on the phone jerked her head about and looked towards the back of the bus, I could see one of the toughs… let’s called him Slick, because of his hair, trying to both silence his phone and lean over behind the rider in front of him.
The the phone half rang then ended. The shopping woman, looked at her phone then up. This time standing up and yelling a name. Her voice was like a gunshot going off in the bus. “Dylan!” I had no idea that was a hispanic name, I thought maybe she was hip to 60’s music and just wanted to express her favorite folk singers name.
Then looking she said again “Dylan Javier.” That’s right, the dreaded two names, like when my mom found out I had dropped food coloring on the new carpet in the front room. The other shopping lady jetted to her feet and the air in my bus grew tense again. “Dylan Javier Silva!” Her voice had that no BS tone my mom had when she called me by all three names.
Funny thing was those tough guys, were not looking so tough now. In fact they were looking like whipped puppies. Poor Dylan Silva was ineffective in ducking because the guy who was sitting in front of him, you know the one he was calling names and was causing trouble with just moments before, slid to the side revealing the subject in question.
Dylan Javier Silva was not the one that talked to me. He had been the first one that walked right by me with the mean look. He didn’t look so mean now, now he looked like someone who had just seen a ghost brandishing two swords coming right at him, fired from the muzzle of a cannon.
The verbal storm of high speed Spanish the rained down on him from these two women almost lit the air in the bus on fire. Heads swung back and forth as people, even those who did not speak english tried to keep up.
“Oh no” said a man by the front door. He had on work clothes and a hard hat and translated for me in whispers. “Looks like someone should have been in school.” He said with a conspiratorial grin.
The two women slowly made their way down the bus summoning DJS forward. I could understand his reluctance. The worker looked at me. “Oh no.” he said.
“His mom?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “Worse it’s La Tias, His Aunt’s.”
Normally if there was a verbal altercation on my bus I would try to interfere to calm things down, but the same reflex that let these toughs on my bus and let me tolerate their crap for a stop or two now kicked in again, and I just decided to watch.
Obviously I have seen too many superhero movies in the last five years because to me these two women had transformed from happy laughing shopping women into a fierce tempest of words. They were unleashing the secret powers of the Mexican Aunt’s. Much like Superman hitting the phone booth except they had transformed right in front of us. It looked to me like our friend Dylan Javier Silva was trying to shrink down as his Aunts approached. It wasn’t working well because the bus literally was shaking as these women stormed the back.
Just as his Aunts arrived he raised his hands in submission and one of the first LaTias grabbed his ass right out of that seat. He was drug reluctantly to the front of the bus. While the remaining Aunt went after the cowering toughs. One dared to talk back and apparently all she had to do was get out her cell phone and threatened to call his dad and he became both silent and compliant.
“They are all skipping school,” whispered the worker with a smile, “Tried to tell her they had a half day.” Even he was intimidated by the brazen power of the Mexican Aunt and looked forward averting his eyes, still at my side translating.
Apparently Dylan’s grades had been slipping and now they knew why. In real term DJS would have been easily able to overpower these two women. These toughs need not have taken any shit off of anyone on the bus. What they did not count on was that power I spoke of before, that awesome power of the MEXICAN AUNTY.
NO ONE CROSSES THE MEXICAN AUNT’s
Dylan Javier Silva took his dutiful seats as his Aunt’s called his mom. He pleaded with them, begged them but Mexican Aunt’s Don’t Play! Funny thing is you don’t have to speak a word of their language to here what happened next…
Aunt: “Hey sister guess who I ran into on the bus”
Aunt: “Oh Dylan Silva!”
Mom: “He’s Suppose to be in School!
Aunt: “Oh you should see him hanging out with his tough friends”
Mom: “Put his ass on the phone”
I actually heard none of that exactly but when old Dylan took the phone his Aunt’s sat down and give him the mean mug, as if he knew the secret launch codes to nuclear weapons needed to save the earth.
Not a peep could be heard as I rolled on. Just Dylan’s periodic Si… Si… Si… and Yes. Yes… Yes… Every once in awhile the Mexican Aunt’s unleashed a devastating glare back at the toughs who were literally cowering in the back of the bus. Then they heard their buddy Dylan listing off their names, they went pale. I think there was going to be a good deal more phone calls that day.
From then until they got off the bus Dylan got an earful. What were the odds that this young man and his friends would accidentally get on the bus with their Aunts. I don’t know why they were calling him but instead that day on my bus old Dylan won the lottery of the Mexican Aunts. They leaned what a real super power looked like.
How do you say irony in Spanish? Ironia? Maybe, that’s it, who knows, but I can tell you who does Dylan Javier Silva knows, he knows very well. When they got to their destination the MEXICAN AUNT’s flexed their powers once again… With just a few words the toughs in the back of the bus shuffled forward and helped carry the groceries along with their friend Dylan.
I think the Moral of the story is Nobody Messes With Mexican Aunt’s, don’t even try. The turn tough guys to jello and have some sort of secret power to find you on a bus by chance… maybe, I’m not sure of that last bit.
Oh and one more thing, you may board my bus with that “F you bus driver stink eye” look but you may not leave with that look, especially when I have a little backup with the real superheroes like the Mexican Aunt’s.
I’m sending my love out to all the La Tias around the world.
YOU HAVE THE POWER!
Ok that was it from two weeks ago on my bus. I told part of this story on the Sprocket Podcast.
I wanted to write it all out.
Can I admit that there is part of me that cannot wait to have these tough guys on my bus again. I wonder how they will act?
Until then Roll Easy.