Mission Aborted!

February 23, 2010 at 1:30 pm (On the road again...)

I had to cancel my vacation.

Before you start feeling sorry for me, let me explain. It was a hastily planned vacation, a three-hour tour. (I’m humming the theme to Gilligan’s Island right now.) As much as I’d like to be stranded with Ginger and Mary Ann, my adventure would take as long, but be closer to home.

How can I survive Gilligan’s Island when I can’t even make it to Sauvie’s Island?

It’s the last week of the sign-up for TriMet drivers. Next week a new batch of drivers will take over the wheel. Drivers get rotated every three months, which means new faces and habits. I’ll be early, introduce myself, and hope that I get drivers who tolerate the public and enjoy what they do. I’ve been lucky on my routes; the guys and gals who drive me home are friendly and helpful. Sadly, I have to say “So long” to them, at least for another three months.

One of my favorite drivers is moving to a different garage as an extra-board driver. She will be on-call, filling routes for sick and vacationing drivers. I’ll miss her smiling face and shared anecdotes. When I found out she had a run going to Sauvie’s Island on a Saturday evening, I asked if she’d mind if I tagged along. I hadn’t been out of the city limits in ages, and a trip out to watch a beautiful sunset sounded like just the thing to blow off some of the city stank.

I figured out which buses she’d be driving, thanks to internet schedules and deductive reasoning. I showed up at the predetermined spot, huffing and puffing. (I hadn’t factored in killer attack dogs and an uphill walk.) When the bus pulled up, I was crestfallen. My hottie driver had been replaced by a bearded dude. Hmm.

Maybe she picked up the bus at the end of the line? I rode out to the layover spot, a recently developed farmland area annexed into the city. Nothing but a locked Porta-Potty and some interesting characters hanging around.

My driver friend had been feeling poorly, and had probably called in sick. While I was sad I wouldn’t get to see her, I figured I’d make the most of the adventure. But first, there was a pressing issue. Gotta pee.

TriMet drivers are protective of their Porta-Potties, and the bear of a driver looked to be in no mood for favors. I did the math, and by the time I got to Sauvie’s Island I’d be sloshing. At the other end? A locked Porta-Potty. I realized I’d have to adjust my vacation. Skipping Sauvie’s Island, I’d go downtown. But since it’d already been an hour, and we were still sitting out in the wilderness, I may not make it that far.

I sat on the bus awaiting departure, amongst a group of Samoans who spoke in a language other than mine. They laughed, joked. A different language spoke into a cell phone in the rear of the bus. But the true cacophony didn’t begin until Buddy Guy got on.

I call him Buddy Guy, not for his guitar genius, but for his bluesy moaning ability. He resembled the musician, with his bib overalls and long, straightened hair. The man was deaf, I’m guessing, because instead of speaking he communicated in moans. Loud, LOUD moans. It was as if Buddy Guy was offered the blow job of his life, on the condition that he be as loud and vocal during as possible.

“OOOHHNNNNN!! MAAAH! OWWWWW!” He would dance by the back door while doing this.

I wanted to dance by the back door, for different reasons.

The driver kept glancing back in the mirror, Buddy was interrupting his reading. The driver’s expression said it all: “Why did I agree to do this?”

Add to the Moaning Man a slew of hip-hoppers and pants-on-the-ground sideways-hat-wearing wannabes. We had a rolling party before we hit 122nd. I felt like I was at a party, and had way too much beer.

Final decision: I will go downtown. After I stop at WalMart and visit the facilities.

Happy to be free of the Crazy House on Wheels, I wandered over to WalMart. In a two-birds-with-one-stone moment, I bought ibuprofen and razor blades. Now I won’t have to return for another six months.

Unless I really have to pee.

The next Holgate bus was quieter, and easier to look at. I went to the far corner in the rear of the bus and gazed out the window. A gaggle of underdressed teenage girls sat across from me, and as much as I tried to focus on the sunset and rolling landscape, I kept being distracted by the teeny black triangle peeking out from under the hot blonde’s mini skirt. I try to restrict myself to looking only at women I’m sure are legal. Sorry, folks. The view was too nice to *not* look.

Instead of heading out to the island, I amused myself by people-watching as I walked the downtown core. The bus people never stopped being entertaining. A drunken secretary who landed on the lap of an old guy in the handicapped seat. (I expected the moaning to start again.) Another old dude would mock anyone laughing, as though the laughter hurt his soul. Stinky hipsters and dreadlocked inebriates kept things boisterous. I was glad to be home by the time I got there.

Later, I received an apologetic e-mail from my driver friend. “Maybe we can try again next weekend? Last chance…”

Hell yeah, I’m game.

Does anyone know where I can buy a brakeman’s friend?


1 Comment

  1. Blythe Hernandez said,

    Yeah so tomorrow will be the last chance for the 17 and I will keep it even though I can’t stand it! Be there or be square I heard you had a little excitement on wednesday I had to bail early that day too. But tomorrow is a definite 412 @ 17th & center you know the math from there. Muah~Blythers ❤

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