21 June 2007

6000 something

Riding in to work with my daughter this week, thus missing morning bus tales. Not sure why the ride home fails to ignite my blogging flame. Perhaps because I don't ride at the same time every day, I don't get a sense of engagement that the morning rides produce. Regular ridership belongs to the morning. Although ... how can I say that? Just because I don't ride home at the same time two days in a row doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I think I'm my own contradiction!

Anyway, yesterday afternoon I heard a brand new lady-voice announcement. We pulled up to the north Southern Ave stop and a couple of passengers left the bus. We continued to sit and I figured the driver needed to make up time. Suddenly, the lady-voice begins and says: "Attention, passengers, this bus is ahead of schedule. Please be patient while the bus waits to get back on schedule."

Amazing, eh? I wonder if some passenger complained about buses sitting, doing nothing. I thought everyone knew that a bus must speed up and slow down to do its best to arrive at certain locations at the times posted. Either that knowledge is not common, or some overzealous manager decided they have lady-voice software and need to use it more often. It certainly got my attention.

While waitng (patiently, I might add . . .), I looked out the window and stared at McDonald's. About twice a year I crave a Big Mac and I'm approaching my semi-annual need. The sign in the window said Big Macs were on sale, $1.59. Seemed like a deal and I wondered if the driver would continue to catch up time while I ran in for a burger. Probably not, but the next time the lady-voice asks for my patience and I'm facing a fast-food possiblity, I might just see what can be done.

12 June 2007


Another day on the 81N. Instead of doing the crack-of-dawn patrol, I decided to linger a bit and catch the 6:42 bus. An enlightening experience, this could be my bus of choice for awhile.

The driver, a woman, greeted me cordially. A number of riders already occupied seats and I settled in, across from the back door, ready to observe. A man in a hat and a woman in the seat behind him engaged in conversation. As we drove north on McClintock, past Southern, the driver hit the horn and pulled over to the curb. She opened the door and a few seconds later, a man walked up and got on the bus. He exchanged greetings with the driver and sat across from the man in the hat who asked why the guy was late. Apparently these people are quite regular and know each other well. The best part was the driver - she recognized a regular passenger and made a courtesy stop to pick him up. What great customer service, and she did the same thing a short time later when she stopped and waited for another young man running to catch the bus. The kindness and civility she displayed made a great start to the day. I'll try to make this time regularly to see the real players on this bus.

I took today's photo this morning to apologize to the Trader Joe's employees who I maligned in yesterday's blog. As you can see, the TJ cart was replaced by one from Walgreen's. I don't take store carts from their homes, so I don't really know how or why these transfers and swaps occur. I will, however, no longer hold store employees accountable for errant carts. I think tracking these trolleys off-site goes beyond the scope of their job duties. Not sure I want to hang around the bus stop and see where they come from, either. Just another mystery of life.

11 June 2007

another #6XXX day

Spent the weekend in the bathroom, spackling and painting and preparing to grout. My body did not want to sleep and then didn't want to wake up, so I took a later bus today and what a bonus that turned out to be!

Today's image tells much of the story. The top photo is the stop where I pick up the 81N. Well-used, a dirty patina covers the ground beneath the bench. An abundance of cigarette butts and small pieces of paper litter the area around the shelter. A cart from Trader Joe's seems a permanent fixture. Not sure what good the cart does staying at the shelter - guess TJ employees don't do cart searches beyond the bounds of their own parking lot. Regardless, I periodically look at the ground and wish someone would come by and steam clean the area, give it a chance to start anew. I figured neither Valley Metro nor the city of Tempe cared much about the conditions at the bus stops, and today I was proved wrong.

While waiting for the bus, the craft seen in the bottom picture pulled up next to the shelter. A man hopped out with a bag and a pokey litter picker-upper stick. He did a quick recon of the area, stabbing and securing the larger bits of paper. He put the bag and stick back and grabbed a hose out of the truck and did a quick run over the shelter floor with a pressure wash. He stuffed the hose back into the truck, jumped in and left. It was more of a drive-by cleaning - I would have preferred a lengthier hit on the shelter floor and some water on the bench, too. However, I can't complain as I didn't think anything was ever done. The bus came, we eventually caught up to the cleaning truck and I took a quick photo from the bus as we drove past.

As observed, this operation is courtesy of Tempe - my tax dollars are at work! I have been riding the bus very regularly for almost two years now, and this is the very first time I have ever seen the little stop cleaner. Wonder how long before I see them again?

06 June 2007


Been awhile - took some vacation time to refresh and recharge before the big work onslaught begins. Decided to put ceramic tile on the upstairs bathroom floor - so much for refresh and recharge. Have you ever tried to do the "score and snap" with cement backerboard? It's a nightmare, a complete nightmare. I still display visible bodily harm from the entire affair. Almost good to be back to work.

Caught the 6:12am 81N this morning at 6:18am. Not sure why he was running late since there were only five people on the bus and none of them in wheelchairs. I suppose there could have been an accident clogging an intersection, but methinks probably not. I meant to take the 5:57am since the driver makes for a nice ride, but excessive dawdling and futzing put me a wee bit behind the power curve. The 6:12am driver seemed a bit surly - just like the 6am66 guy. Perhaps they're not morning people? I will try to keep regular on the 5:57am - the driver provides an upbeat start to the day and it appears to harbor regular riders. Perhaps some interesting observations will result.

Today's image honors the aroma of this morning's bus. It smelled like someone transported an entire, unwashed football team after a long, difficult, extremely sweaty game - yowza - nasty stuff. A thorough steam cleaning would help immensely.