On My Own

With my “training” now complete, it was time to turn me loose ferrying around the general public. My wife and I worked out a system where I could have each route and it’s connections propped up on the dash of the bus. I made a kind of “clip board” that clamped to the visor on the dash and on this I could “clip” that days route and connections. The older drivers are proud of the fact that they don’t have to use such “crutches” but I will often see those same drivers digging through schedules at a stoplight.

Driving bus for Transfort, I get my schedule a couple of days before it starts to take effect. They tell me that they have a special computer program that does the scheduling but after seeing some of the blunders that it churns out, I wonder if they aren’t just shaking up the list in a can and dumping it out. A good example is being scheduled to work a late night then being scheduled to work the early shift the next morning. I guess after the computer has generated a list, the human factor kicks in and that’s why the schedule gets “adjusted.” One of the schedulers will look over the schedule and decide that this driver won’t be available this day or that driver is on sick leave so, who can I give their work to? It’s all very curious to me how this is all handled; I guess that’s why I’m at the bottom of the Totem Pole.

P-2

P-2 is the called designation of a passenger in need of special attention, someone you would watch out for. This would cover people who are blind, could not walk very well or has some other limitation. A couple of the women I have become familiar with since starting to drive are blind and going to Colorado State University.

Amy lives down here in Loveland so I will see her whenever I drive the Fox Trot or route 7. I don’t know if she has been blind since birth but she certainly doesn’t let it get in her way. Amy has a cute little German Shepard that helps her around. People are always commenting on how small her dog is. She told us that this particular kind of German Shepard was bread small for this purpose. The last time I had Amy on the Fox Trot, she told me she liked that I called all the stops. It let her know just how much farther she had to go and allowed her to make her own decision where she could get off.

Kerri is the other blind woman I see from time to time. Her guide dog is a big black Lab, always seen pulling her along with its tail at a constant wag. Kerri rides the route 6 bus; I learned her stop is “Kittery.” Now whenever I drive the route 6 bus I call the Kittery stop weather she is on or not.

David is a blind fellow that lives down here in Loveland. He will often travel with a seeing friend, the friend is a little irritating but they seem to work well together. While David didn’t comment on my calling of stops, his friend told me I was just trying to irritate him.

On route 7 there is a family with both a blind mother and a blind father, they have three kids. Their youngest is always on a tether, I guess for obvious reasons. Their middle girl (about 7 years old) is also blind. This last time I drove route 7, the mother was trying to teach the little girl how to use her cane, simply amazing. After they had boarded, I went off to the rest room at the Square. Upon my return, the whole family was still sitting quietly with one exception; the littlest girl was quietly swinging from the overhead hand holds along the inside of the bus. Both mother and father lit into her when I announced that the bus wasn’t a Jungle Jim. I discovered there is a bus stop right in their front yard, they live on Swallow at Southmoor.

P3’s

This is the designation for a passenger in a wheel chair (powered or otherwise). All the busses and mini busses are equipped with wheelchair lifts. The extra expense of putting a lift on a bus isn’t to be sneezed at but the amount of mobility it offers to wheelchair-bound riders is surly welcomed.

Often when I’m operating either route 1 or route 7, I’ll see Dave. Dave uses a manual wheelchair and lives just off Drake at Stanford. Dave will often be seen commuting between his home and Front Range Community College. Dave is amazing, not only is he a heck of a nice guy, he’s quick and understands the time constraints of driving a bus. Once Dave is onboard, he lifts the seat (if you haven’t already done it) locks himself in and straps his chair down and informs you it’s clear to go. The only complaints I ever get from Dave, is the type of tie-downs that a particular bus may have. Dave talks of wanting to retire to Puerto Rico. One day, I hope he lives his dream.

Dean is another pretty common sight to route 7 and the route 1 busses. Dean works at Target and proud of the fact he’s worked there for over seven years. If you want to play with Dean, ask him how long he’s worked at Wall-Mart? He will go into a long blather about how he would never work for Wall-Mart but will start laughing as soon as you tell him you are just teasing him. Dean is a little more limited than Dave; he has an electric wheelchair and doesn’t speak very clearly. I think Dean lives in the area around the Senior’s Center on Shields as I often see him buzzing down the sidewalk close-by. The last time I had Dean on my bus he was carrying a big box of flowers for his niece’s birthday. He was very proud of that box of flowers, so I went out of my way to insure that both he and his extra special cargo got to their destination safely.

Michele is another common rider, only she is on route 3. I remember Michele fairly well as she was one of my first riders with a huge electric wheelchair. I remember her even better because my lift jammed part way up. After calling for help, Greg Wilder, that days 2T driver, stopped by and between the two of us we got it unjammed, only put me 15 minutes late! Getting Michele taken care of (without any mechanical problems) will cost the driver on route 3 any break time for the next two to three runs. The older drivers warn the newer drivers that when you see Michele’s boyfriend board the bus in the afternoon, use the restroom as you won’t get a chance for the next hour to hour and a half. That is, of course, if you expect to keep the bus on time.

Mostly, the drivers are pretty good towards passengers that are wheelchair bound. Time constraints on the routes is what makes drivers sneer at the thought of having to take the time to pick up a P-3 passenger. The one P-3 passenger that nobody likes to pick up is Dennis. Dennis is rude, hard to understand and is a rolling biohazard. You will often see Dennis lurching and jerking down the road in the bicycle lane, it’s also fairly common to see Dennis pushing himself along right in the traffic lanes! From a long way off a driver can tell it’s Dennis by his hockey helmet, tall American flag (held up with re-bar) pushing himself along with his feet. Why I say Dennis is a rolling biohazard is all the cups that are hung on his chair, they are mostly filled with urine! One poor driver was strapping down Dennis when one of Dennis’s cups upturned dumping urine on the drivers side and pants. The driver had to be removed from service until he could get showered and clean clothes fitted.

P-5

This is the designation you use when you board someone who has had just a little too much to drink, I guess it could also be used to describe someone who may also be on drugs. Any of the “drunks” that have been on my bus, for the most part, have just wanted to talk your ear off. Some of the other drivers haven’t been quite so lucky. I always think it’s so sad to hear over the radio another driver asking for help because of drunks trying to board their busses, “trying” being the most descriptive word. From time to time you will hear a driver call for “100” (Police) to assist with a disruptive or abusive drunk. Why people allow themselves to taken over by alcohol or other drugs I guess I’ll never understand.

 

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Copyright 2009 Pokie Parmidge