This is a true story that happened last night on the way home from work. I wanted desperately to tell you about it right then and there, but …
As you know, I’m a bus driver; I leave for work at 0900, I don’t return until 2200, and I do it all for $1 over the current starting salary at McDonald’s. By the way, for those in Rio Linda, 0900 means 9:00 am, and 2200 means 10:00 pm. Yes, it’s a long day and when I get home, I’m really tired. So now that I’m well rested, here’s the story.
Also, I wasn’t thinking at the time, or I would have tried to take a picture of the individual that inspired this post. Suffice it to say, he looked like this:
Disclaimer: I don’t know how to determine the gender of a grasshopper, so I’ll just refer to him as “He.”
With all that out of the way, here’s what happened.
At about the mid-point of my commute home last night, I came to a stop at a traffic light. I drive an old pickup truck, and even if I didn’t have to drive it for economic reasons, I’d still drive it out of preference. It’s a fantastic truck, and they don’t make them anymore.
Anyway, just before the light turned green, I noticed a grasshopper walking across the top edge of my windshield. How he got there was beyond me; I was already on the road for almost half an hour. It was a miracle that he survived this long, but I knew the light would turn green at any moment, and this grasshopper really didn’t stand a chance. The speed limit for the next part of my commute was 50 mph (60 mph in real life) on a two-lane road with double yellow stripes. No passing is allowed, and everyone expects you to go 60. I think you get the picture.
Anyway, I really felt bad for this creature, but the light turned green and it was time to go. Just then, it occurred to me that if I accelerated slowly, maybe the grasshopper would have time to make his way to the back of the cab and jump into the bed of my truck. If he did, he’d have no problem surviving the rest of the journey. I executed my plan and accelerated slowly. Oddly enough, my fellow late-night commuters were very patient: no one honked. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t patience; my truck is old and looks old too. Tolerance might be more accurate.
In all honesty, I really didn’t think the grasshopper would make it, but in that brief moment, there was a connection, so I did what I could and hoped for the best. Eventually, I made it home, pulled into my driveway, parked the truck, and jumped out to check for my grasshopper buddy. Even though it was night, the bed of my truck has a black liner; he would look almost white against the black and be easy to see. Sadly, he wasn’t there. I felt terrible and it was exacerbated by my severe fatigue, or maybe the other way around. Who knows?
Extremely bummed out (disappointed for my gen-x fan(s)), I walked around to the passenger door and retrieved my clipboard, lunch box, and miscellaneous paperwork. In a paperless society like ours, ‘hehehe’, I still have to document events on the bus by writing them down.
As a side note: Ostensibly, it’s for the protection of my employer, and by extension, the drivers. In reality, it’s more of a gotcha type of thing designed to blame the driver for as much as possible when things go wrong. In the past, written reports have bitten the less literate of us in the ass. But in my case, because I’m your favorite writing bus driver, my reports have bitten my employer in the ass. It took more than one or two times, but they learned their lesson. My reports stand the test of time, and scrutiny, and my supervisor dreads having to tell me over the radio, “Be sure to write up your report before you leave tonight”.
Ok, back to the story.
So, I grabbed my stuff and closed the door. I started for the house, still feeling bad about my grasshopper buddy, but something told me to stop and turn back, because I forgot something important. I looked down at my hands to check. I had everything I could think of, and at first, I ignored the voice, but it repeated, and I relented.
I turned around to make my laborious trek back to the truck, and when I looked up, who did I see staring me straight in the eye? Proud, defiant, and ultimately victorious over his vanquished foe (60 mph winds) stood Kung Fu Grasshopper. He faced the onslaught of insurmountable odds and succeeded, even when I didn’t think he stood a chance.
Sharing this (true) story is especially important to me because my Grasshopper Hero has given me renewed resolve. We all have our challenges; some are thrust upon us by fate, like hurricanes. Yes, I live in Florida, but I was lucky. With proper preparation I weathered the storm; Ian did his worst to others. By the way, Hurricane Ian – Volunteer Florida is a great place to help (I did).
Ian: a personal assessment of challenge.
Some challenges we take on willingly, and when we do, they become goals. Most goals are sensible and with smart decision-making along with hard work, can be realized. Then, there are goals of a more fanciful nature. They fall into the category of lofty dreams or wishes. By their very nature, they have no real chance of coming to fruition. These are the most insidious because if we really want them, we waste our time in a never-ending cycle of failure, only to succeed as a Dreamer. Eventually, when it’s far too late to correct our mistakes, we capitulate to the truth and despair over what could have been.
In my case, that fanciful dream is to stop driving a bus for a living and live the life of a successful writer. Lately, it seems the harder I work, the less I actually achieve, and it gets me down. Giving up and doing what I could to reverse the effects of wasting time on a dream, seemed more appropriate than ever; especially, when a storm like Hurricane Ian was passing overhead.
Enter Kung Fu Grasshopper, who has taught me something crucial — giving up is a loss. Yes, time is running out because life is finite, but I still have mornings left to wake up, get out of bed, and fight on regardless of the odds.
I know my personal battle pales in comparison to those on Florida’s west coast, but the concept is the same. The battle is never over until you succeed — or quit.
Thank you, Kung Fu Grasshopper.
PS – Kung Fu Grasshopper wasn’t the first to teach me this lesson, but I needed a refresher course. Roma’s story will come when I’m ready to tell it.
The day started uneventfully. My first loop is typically slow with only a handful of passengers boarding or disembarking. That means very few stops and a reasonably quick loop. For those who don’t already know, a standard route starts and stops at the same point. We call that point a transfer stop. Passengers use it to change buses and continue their journey. So, for obvious reasons, we call a one-hour trip around the route, a loop.
Just a little more background is needed before we dive in, bear with me. There are no bathrooms on the bus, so if you have a problem using public facilities, driving a bus will challenge your kidneys, bladder, and bowels.
Because we have a schedule to keep, drivers use public bathrooms close to bus stops. We simply pull up to a stop, secure the bus, and jump out to take care of business. Passengers wait patiently because, well, they have no choice.
Okay, I think that’s enough back-story for this episode.
Our story begins on what we refer to as the lunch loop. You might think the lunch loop is when you take lunch, but that would be wrong. The lunch loop is the loop you complete just before you take lunch. My lunch loop was from noon to 1:00 pm.
I began my lunch loop with an empty bus, and the first few stops along the way were empty, so it was a good time to make a pit stop. There’s a fast-food restaurant (which I will not name) that is conveniently located near one of my stops, and as you might guess, I use the restroom frequently.
I went in and began to use the urinal. I’ll spare the particulars. Suffice it to say, I was in the process of using it as intended when I heard some loud grunts and groans coming from the toilet stall next to me. I figured I better hurry before being overwhelmed by the impending stench. But I’m a bus driver, and we have, by necessity, large capacity bladders. The grunts and groans grew louder until finally, there was a crescendo that faded to a long moan and then silence.
As soon as I could, I finished up and washed my hands. That’s when the guy in the stall started talking to himself. The voice sounded the same, but the words were two different sides of a conversation that went like this.
“Wow, that was big.”
“Told you so.”
“Deep. The last time I did something like that, I literally passed out.”
“Really? How long were you out?”
“About fifteen minutes, I almost had a heart attack.”
I finished washing my hands and went to the hand dryer. It took forever to warm up, probably because I was trying to hurry. I wanted to avoid the stench, and the crazy, lurking in that toilet stall just a few feet away. As the fan began blowing hot air, the door to the stall opened, and two guys walked out. They pretended not to see me as they exited the restroom.
BTW and FYI, they were restaurant employees … and they didn’t wash. Think about that next time you throw caution to the wind and tempt the Junk-Food-Profits. See what I did there?
As if that isn’t enough for one lunch loop, later, I pick up a guy with a bike. He takes his time putting it on the rack and shorts the fare, but its Friday and I let him ride.
Time for some more back-story.
You would think that most people about to have a private telephone conversation would say something like, I’ll call you back when I get off the bus, or I’m on the bus now, so let me call you back in a few minutes. But you’d be wrong; they not only take the call, they speak with their outside voice.
That should suffice; on with the story.
My passenger’s phone rang, and he answered.
No, I just got on the bus.
No, we can’t. I won’t be home for like half an hour.
If we do, we’ll be late.
I had to take care of some stuff. It took longer than I thought. I’m coming home now and we ….
No, you’d have to reschedule the appointment.
I already told you. I had stuff to do. Damn!
You know I have a life too! I have things to do and it takes time. Why does it always have to be about sex with you?
It’s always about sex … Bro. Damn Bro! You need to start respecting me, Bro.
Don’t say that Bro. That’s fucking so disrespectful. Bro, Bro, if you want to fuck, you better start respecting me and you ain’t doing it right now.
End of call.
In conclusion, the undeniable fact remains as always, they really don’t pay me enough.
PS – My passengers already know not to use profanity on my bus. Usually, it’s just a loud outburst, and if it doesn’t stop immediately, I’ll stop the bus. But by the time the shock of his X-rated call subsided, and I could say something about his language with a STRAIGHT face (see what I did there?), we were at the transfer stop.
Last week I had to catch up with some outdoor chores. As a way to keep my mind occupied while doing the mundane, I listen to talk radio. It was Sunday so the programming was all rebroadcasts, but that’s OK because I work during the week, which means it’s all fresh for me.
When I tuned in, the conversation was already going. The subject was about how most Americans today are raised too safe. It’s a product of woke society, and it serves to emasculate. A society full of men who won’t fight because they’re afraid, is easier to control.
An interesting point was raised, that you never see a man riding on the back of a Harley. Harley riders, usually older men, always ride with the woman on the back, never the other way around. Today’s men, who might be more inclined to ride on the back of a motorcycle with a woman in front, don’t because they’re too afraid to get on a motorcycle in the first place.
Frankly, I never thought of it like that, but there’s a whole lot of truth there. And I know what I’m talking about because I’ve been riding motorcycles for decades.
FYI, this is a bagger, a cruiser motorcycle with saddlebags. And NO, I have never ridden bitch. The term Riding Bitch is not derogatory; it simply means riding on the back seat.
Now, before you sport bike riders get all bent out of shape, I know that younger men, with the proper levels of testosterone, ride sport bikes. And they don’t ride on the back.
Here’s my shout-out. It’s guys like you that we Baggers (motorcycle terminology for bagger riders) are depending on to save the day and defend this country in the future.
Now let’s shift gears.
In no way am I saying women shouldn’t ride motorcycles. But I am saying that when riding two-up, a woman’s place by design, is on the back seat.
… but try to imagine this image in reverse … then immediately perish the thought.
PS – The difference in generations:
Almost nobody under the age of twelve these days has a tree house. Instead, they have X-boxes or PS-(whatever). They interact with their friends online and they aren’t even in the same room. It’s all very … interactive.
When I was a kid, I built a treehouse in my backyard. It was where I went to hang out with my friends or to just be alone. I built it all by myself and when I did, I purposely left out a ladder. In order to gain entrance to my treehouse, you had to climb the tree. We were active.
It was a somewhat slow news week, so my political muse was nowhere to be found. Let’s face it, Joe Biden falling asleep during meetings or reading the teleprompter instructions as part of his speech, just isn’t newsworthy anymore. How sad is that?
Fortunately for us, my passengers came to the rescue.
Let’s start with the most recent episode of passenger outrageousness.
I picked up two old ladies on an errand to someplace or another, the actual destination is irrelevant. Of the two, one seemed to be the caregiver (supervisor) of the other. We will call the caregiver Matilda and the other Gertrude. I don’t know their real names and (for legal purposes) these names are fictitious.
Mattie and Gert finally get themselves seated after only five or six minutes. When it comes to the elderly or children, I try not to move the bus until they sit. FYI, I was on schedule before I picked them up.
Of course, it didn’t take long before Mattie shouts, “Are we going to make it to the mall on time?” Keep in mind, she was seated in the middle of a loud, crowded bus, and I heard the question clear as a bell. But I chose to ignore it because passengers aren’t supposed to talk to the driver, especially when he’s driving.
For Mattie, rules are no obstacle whatsoever. She simply turned up the volume a few hundred decibels and repeated, “Driver, are we going to make it to the mall on time?”
“No ma’am. We’re now five or six minutes late.”
Gert chimes in, “What did he say?”
“He said we’re five or six minutes late.”
I expected Gert to go ballistic, but she didn’t. She just said, “Oh.”
About a minute later Gert says something to Mattie that was completely garbled. Mattie ignored it the way I initially ignored her. And just like Mattie, Gert was not deterred. With the volume turned up a few notches, Gert says, “My ass is slimy.” The whole bus heard it except for Mattie, who happened to be sitting right next to her.
“What did you say?”
“My ass is slimy.”
“My ass is slimy.”
“Your ass is shinny?”
“No! My ass is slimy.”
“Your ass is grimy?”
“MY – ASS – IS – SLIMY!”
And that’s how they left it for a minute or two. Then, Mattie shouts out, “How did your ass get slimy?”
“I don’t know. It just is.”
That wasn’t good enough for Mattie. “How do you not know how your ass got slimy? I’d know how my ass got slimy — if my ass was slimy.” Mattie shook her head in disbelief. “How do you not know? You gotta know.”
“I already told you, I don’t.”
“You gotta know.”
Gert tried to defend herself, “How the hell am I supposed to know? I can’t see it.”
“You don’t have to see it to know. You can feel it. How did your ass get slimy?”
“I – DON’T – KNOW.”
Mattie wasn’t satisfied and attempted to delve deeper.
“Did you pee yourself?”
“Did you shit yourself?”
“Well, it’s got to be one or the other. Which one is it? How’d you get a slimy ass?”
Gert defended, “You think you know everything. Well, you don’t. You’re wrong. It doesn’t have to be one of those. Maybe I just got a slimy ass.”
“You can’t just have a slimy ass.”
Gert was enjoying Mattie’s frustration, and when I looked at her in the passenger mirror, she was looking back with a shit-eating-smirk. And then, I had a BDBE, Oh God.
Mattie couldn’t hold back anymore, she burst out, “You’re lying. Either you pissed yourself or you shit yourself, and you’re too stupid to know which is which.”
Gert shouted, “No. I’m not stupid. You’re stupid. I’m not lying either, and I can prove it. I didn’t shit or piss myself. I did both.”