Sunday, August 14, 2022

Am I the Asshole? Bus Stop Edition

I need to get something off my chest.

I drive a city bus. Often in the course of my work day, I have to "deadhead" between the bus yard and either the beginning or end of my routes. Deadheading means driving an empty bus which is not in service. The header signs on the front, side and back of the bus indicate this with various phrases like "Not In Service", or "Garage", and certainly no route number showing.

Some of our deadhead routes follow established bus routes, so it often happens that you pass people waiting at bus stops. Most people see the header sign and accept their fate that my bus is not for them. However, there are always a few people who, for various reasons, don't get that information from the signs, and become visibly distressed. This is usually demonstrated with upraised arms and a gob-smacked expression on their faces.

Now, I understand that some people have barriers to being able to read the header signs. It might be poor vision, not knowing English, or possibly illiteracy. I'm not trying to sound ableist or ethno-centric here. It's also possible they simply didn't bother to read the header sign. That's on them.

However, even allowing for those possible barriers, why does it seem that the first assumption by the people being passed up is that the driver (me) is either an idiot, or an asshole, or both? Have they never encountered an out of service bus before? Possibly, but you would think they could conceptualize it. Should I stop and try to explain the butt-hurt away? No.

When I pass someone while deadheading, I usually try to make eye contact. Like I said, most people get it, but I like to give them a friendly little wave, if for no other reason than to let them know I see them and acknowledge them. If they still look concerned, I try to make the wave look sympathetic. I don't know how successful I am at that.

But when the person gets too assertive about it, and begins uplifting their arms in incredulity and adopting that slack-jawed expression, I find it difficult not to mock them by raising my own arms (if safe to do so) and staring open-mouthed back at them. Sorry. They made it personal. I could probably get in trouble if this got back to my superiors, but I'm going on the assumption that if my victim can't figure out that a bus is out of service, they're probably not going to be able to figure out how to report the incident, or if they do call, they probably won't be able to successfully identify what bus, what bearded, Caucasian driver (out of several hundred), and so forth.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Heidi St. John: Conservative Christian Republican (For a Change)


The following is mainly opinion and conjecture, not journalism. I’ve included

 links to show where I found some of the items contained herein.

I was at my local laundromat. The TV was playing with the sound off, when the

above ad appeared. I didn’t need to hear it, since the candidate’s words were also

printed on the screen. I was shocked by the inflammatory

wording. Phrases like “socialist Biden agenda”; “it’ll be weak, moderate

 ‘Republicans' [sarcastic quotation marks hers] and wannabe socialists IN OUR

WAY” [capitalization mine]; “shutting down the federal government to break Biden”;

and “the Marxist agenda today’s Democrats endorse” tend to get one’s attention, for

good or ill.

I searched for information about Heidi St. John. The first hit was for her eponymous

website, with the subheading “The Busy Mom” ( She writes books

with titles like “The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance” (yuck), and

“Becoming Mom Strong: How to Fight With all That’s in You For Your Family and

Your Faith" [incorrect capitalization hers].

As mentioned, she home schools her children. She also has a podcast, a blog, and

speaking engagements. Oh, and she’s running for U.S. Congress for the

3rd District of Washington State. A very busy mom, indeed.

When I visited her campaign website (, I was

particularly interested in the first sentence of the third and last paragraph 

of the mission statement on her home page:

“Together, we can make sure that Washington’s 3rd District remains a beautiful and

safe place to live, work, and raise our families for generations to come.”

The second sentence of the paragraph goes on to say:

"The United States of America is an idea worth sacrificing for, and the American

dream must be preserved and safeguarded for the sake of our children and grand-



I suppose one of the things that first caught my attention was the fact that on my

Samsung mobile device, that first sentence is mysteriously bold-faced. Oddly

enough, in both Chrome and Firefox on my laptop, the sentence doesn’t appear in

bold-face. I’ve included a screenshot from my phone to prove it.



Just 26 little words in that first sentence. Innocent enough on the face of it, I

suppose. But they rang a faint alarm bell in my mind. They reminded me of another

set of just 14 words, which goes like this:

"We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

If you don’t recognize that phrase, it was spoken by infamous white supremacist,

David Eden Lane (

The phrase has been picked up and repeated by many Neo-Nazis and white

supremacists and is often coupled with the number 88 (H is the eighth letter of the

alphabet, so HH, for “Heil Hitler”) in tattoos and written on vehicles as a code for,

well, being a fucking asshole.

There is another 14-word sentence that goes along with the first one: "Because the

beauty of the White Aryan woman must not perish from the Earth.”

So a total of 28 words, only two more than Heidi’s pithy little sentence. Heidi’s

phrase and the two “14 words” certainly share a lot of the same words, or similar

ones, as if she made heavy use of a thesaurus to try to dress them up differently:

Heidi: “we can make sure”

David: “we must secure”

Heidi: “beautiful”

David: “beauty”

Heidi: “place to live”

David: “existence”

Heidi: “raise our families”

David: : "our people”

Heidi: “for generations to come”

David: “future for white children”

And to compare some words from Heidi’s second sentence to one of Lane’s

14-word bon mots:

Heidi: “the American dream must be preserved and safeguarded”

David: “must not perish from the Earth”

Maybe I’m making too much of this. Perhaps I’m just being paranoid. I sure hope so.

But given the current rush toward Christofacism by the Republican Party, I don’t

have a good feeling about this. Also, the geographical location of Heidi is concerning.

For a little background, Washington State’s third district is in the southwestern-most

corner of the state. The largest city in the district is Vancouver, just a short drive

across the Columbia River from Portland. Politically the two cities couldn’t be more

different. Portland is famous for being “weird”, but also for being very liberal in a

state where it was once illegal to be Black. Vancouver is very conservative. Many of

the officers of the Portland Police Bureau live in Vancouver. This is probably mostly

because Washington has no income tax. By contrast, Oregon has no sales tax. So

many people who work in Portland live in Vancouver, and cross the Interstate Bridge

to shop.

Many of the members of the extreme alt-right groups who fought with Antifa on the

streets of Portland also came from Vancouver and surrounding communities. Thus

plenty of Portland police live right amongst the violent haters. There were many

documented incidents during the literal 100 days of civil unrest in the summer of

2020 where it was obvious that Portland Police Bureau was giving preferential

treatment to the alt-right.

It’s late, I’m tired, and I feel like I’m starting to ramble. To sum up, I think that

Heidi’s mission statement is a thinly veiled dog whistle for white, Christian,

Neo-fascists. And that scares me.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Ms. Scarlet's Freakin' Green Elf Shorts Caption Competition!

 It's here! It's official. It's fabulous!

Ms. Scarlet's caption competition for the Freakin' Green Elf Shorts is upon us! See it HERE to enter your captions, or just ogle the spectacle and read captions entries by others, both from those who wish to win the Shorts, and from those who don't, for some odd reason.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Freakin' Green Elf Shorts History Update

Well, folks, depending on where you are on this old globe of ours, you are only a day or two away from Ms. Scarlet's new Freakin' Green Elf Shorts Caption Competition. In honor of the occasion, I have added a new update to my Continuing History of the Freakin' Green Elf Shorts, highlighting the many contributions to the world of the Shorts by Inexplicable DeVice. Please won't you take a look?

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Freakin' Green Elf Shorts Caption Competition Continues!

Ms. Scarlet, as seen in her previous FGES competition

Big news for fans of the Freakin' Green Elf Shorts! Ms. Scarlet, the current keeper of the Shorts, just oh, so casually announced a date for the long awaited continuation of the FGES Caption Competition. You can check out the deets (brief as they are) at her blog, but if you can't be arsed, basically the competition will begin on the 1st of January 2022, and a winner will be announced on the 16th* of January (GMT), of the same year even! Please enter your captions, and let's keep those Shorts a-movin'!

In other FGES news, I noticed the other day that the link to my Continuing History of the Shorts, over in the upper right corner of my blog, was not working. Upon further investigation, I discovered that a couple of extra letters had somehow gotten into the URL embedded in the image, rendering it useless. I don't know how that happened, or how long it had been going on. The problem has been fixed, and my apologies to anyone who may have attempted to use that defective link.

My Continuing History of the FGES will be updated presently to include these most recent developments, along with a few tangential references to the Shorts, which deserve to be in the record, but I was waiting for more definite news of their fate before adding to the history. Ah, who am I kidding? I'm just lazy!

Also, IDV was kind enough to create an updated map of the global travels of the FGES. It can be seen at the top of this blog. Thanks, IDV.

*Updated January 2, 2022 (PST) to reflect change by Ms. Scarlet of date of announcement of winner from her original post. Current caption competition is HERE.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Rimpy and the THNGVB Saturday, Part III: The Sickening Sequel

"Welcome aboard! Excuse me while I close this door between me and you."

This follow-up to the saga of that rotten Saturday should be short and sour. It's actually not funny at all, even though this purports to be a comedy blog, but I feel compelled to share it because, well...I'm compulsive -- and obsessive. Also, I said I would, and I'm too lazy to go back and remove mentions of this promised third part from the previous two posts. Besides, maybe some of you are still interested in hearing about it. Right? Yeah, let's go with that.

There is another recurring passenger who haunts the line 75, a female version of Little Leon. I'll call her "Sheon". Sheon is homeless and mentally ill, and likely also on drugs, probably meth. She is filthy and very skinny, and also unhealthy-looking, as one might expect. She never pays for fare, instead mumbling some excuse as she skitters, spider-like, to a seat. She can't sit still, nor keep her mouth shut. She almost always starts trouble, such as berating other passengers. I had previously been forced to ask her to get off my bus.

Some weeks, or maybe a couple of months, after the THNGVB Saturday, I was again driving the line 75, and had the misfortune of picking up Sheon. She bypassed the fare box, but took a mask from the dispenser that all buses and trains now have, and even put it on her face. Sadly, she kept pulling the mask away from her mouth in order to speak, which was constantly. Another female passenger asked her to keep her mask on. Sheon began yelling at the other woman. I tried to intercede via my public address microphone, asking for calm, and reminding Sheon that masks must be worn while riding the bus, like all the signage and the recorded announcements say.

Now this may sound totally insane, but we TriMet drivers are not given any authority to enforce the mask "rule". Neither is there anyone with such authority riding buses or trains. There are such people, but I have no idea what they do with their well-compensated time. I used sarcastic quotation marks because what good is a rule if it is not enforced? The most we can do is ask a passenger to wear a mask, and if they won't comply, we can press a special button (that was installed shortly after the pandemic started) on our MDT touch screens which sends a canned text message to the effect of "mask non-compliance". This isn't like pressing the silent alarm during a bank robbery -- doughty warriors in Tyvek suits aren't going to rappel from a hovering helicopter and remove the potential Patient Zero from the bus. I'm sure all the button does is record location and time for statistical purposes, much like our useless "Fare Evasion" and "Near Miss" ("almost accident", not "proximity of a comely maiden") buttons. I suppose if the "No Mask" button is pressed enough times at the same place and time, a supervisor might deign to investigate and hopefully address the situation.

Meanwhile, the interaction between Sheon and the irate passenger was getting out of hand. I could no longer safely operate the bus under these conditions. For good or ill, I arrived at the lovely Hollywood Transit Center at this point. I secured the bus, and told Sheon that she was going to have to leave. Of course, she refused. I had no choice but to put in a request to dispatch for help in getting her off my bus.

True fact about me: I'm a slow learner. I hadn't gleaned any wisdom from the errors I had made in dealing with Leon on the THNGVBS. When dispatch contacted me via radio, I once again made the mistake of listing all of Sheon's offenses: fare evasion, mask non-compliance, use of abusive language, and harassment of another passenger. Eight years of working for another transit system that actually gave a damn about those things had ruined me for working at TriMet.

As dispatchers seem wont do, this one focused on one of the less-important issues, such as fare evasion or language, so I was getting nowhere, slowly. While I was on the radio, Sheon came up beside my seat and was jabbering something at me. Our newest buses came from the factory with little barrier doors with a sliding window between the driver and the rest of the bus. It's far from being a totally enclosed compartment, like I've seen in other bus systems, but it provides some level of protection from angry passengers. The buses with these doors had been ordered before the pandemic as a means of reducing assaults upon drivers, and plans were made to eventually retrofit them on older buses. However, after COVID came around, TriMet realized the barriers were also useful for slowing the spread of the virus, so they attempted to speed up their order for more doors. Unfortunately, pretty much every transit system in America was doing the same thing, so it took awhile to receive the doors. I'll bet the makers of those doors are now sitting on huge piles of cash, Joker-style, and raising glasses of expensive champagne in toast to the pandemic.

I tried to tell Sheon that the main reason I wanted her off my bus was because she was repeatedly refusing to keep her mask in place. It was then that she stuck her hideous face around the barrier and coughed directly at me. I was so angry that I slammed the handset of the radio back into its cradle. This startled her, and she jumped out, yelling, "You're not going to hit me!" I wasn't planning to hit her, even though I wanted to. I seized upon this opportunity and shut the door as quickly as I could. Now she was off my bus! Yay! I called dispatch and let them know the problematic passenger had deboarded and their "help" was no longer needed.

Boy, was I wrong. She may have been off the bus, but she wasn't done with me yet. Much like that previous weirdo at the Hollywood Transit Center on the THNGVBS, she got in front of the bus, preventing me from moving. She also put down the empty bike rack on the front of the bus. This seems to be a popular tactic with angry, crazy people. She then would feint like she was moving aside, then get back in front of my bus as I attempted to try to resume my route. She kept this up for the same couple of blocks as the idiot from earlier. I couldn't believe that a near identical incident was happening twice in the exact same place. I tried contacting dispatch again, which is not easy while driving. Eventually she got out of the way, and I was able to leave.

Probably my biggest mistake that day was not immediately reporting to dispatch that Sheon had deliberately coughed at me. If I had, I could have gotten TriMet to pay for me to get tested for COVID. That probably would have been the responsible thing to do, considering the risk to myself and others. Since Sheon is known to the transit authority, some contact tracing could probably have been done if I had tested positive. I was just too upset to think straight. Actually, I was very tempted to quit on the spot. Who needs such shit -- risking your life and health transporting hostile, ungrateful, potentially dangerous people? But a cooler, or perhaps stupider, head prevailed.

I did complain to a manager about what had happened, after I had fumed about it for a couple of days. I was tempted to try to file a police report and maybe charge Sheon with assault. Perhaps that way she could be forced to be tested for the virus. But by then there wasn't much my wonderful employers were able, or willing, to do for me, other than to offer to test me for 'rona. Perhaps irresponsibly, I declined. I was feeling defeated. Obviously, time has shown that I didn't contract the disease.

I did some checking on my own, and I found out that purposefully coughing at someone and putting them in fear and at risk of infection is only considered assault if the assailant already KNOWS they are infectious. Sheon apparently wasn't infectious, or if she was, I escaped unscathed. Even if she had been infected, she might not have known it, which still makes her antagonistic action just as reprehensible.

It's absolutely disgusting to me that there are people who are willing to weaponize their sputum during a pandemic. In the case of Sheon, she probably doesn't have much control over her actions, but I have seen videos of otherwise sane people who are just stupid assholes coughing and spitting at hapless employees who have asked them to do the simple courtesy of wearing a bit of fabric over their gross gobs and snouts.

I did learn one thing from all this: like cops, don't talk to dispatchers. I haven't had to since that day, but if I ever again have to contact dispatch about a trouble-making passenger, I will stick to one relevant issue, and leave out any other offenses the passenger may have committed, so the dispatcher can't chose some lesser evil to ignore.

I also haven't seen Sheon since that day. Like the old woman who swallowed a fly, perhaps she died. I don't wish that on her, but, "she who lives by the sword", amiright? If she did die of the 'rona, and she had it that day, perhaps my mask saved me, so my getting tested wouldn't have changed anything, but it augers ill for anyone else who was in close proximity to her. It's scary to contemplate, and doing so for too long really makes me question my choice of careers. I can't wait for retirement. I hope I live that long.