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    « The "Sunday Father" | Main | The Camera Doesn't Blink »
    Friday
    Feb082013

    The Day I Wasn't There. Orwell VS. Trimet

    I have so little time so I will be as brief as I can. Only twelve minutes to bang this out so hold on. 

    I've had medical issues so I have not been at work, nor have I felt much like posting so I'm sorry about that. I'm back at work now and if I had more time I would be doing up a full on post just for you.  That's right you mean that much to me. 

    Something happened yesterday that made me laugh. Sometimes something very small happens that defines Trimet in it’s entirety. Like senseless rebuilding of fences and ascetic landscaping in a bus driver parking lot in the middle of a budget problem. That’s right we can’t pay you bus drivers this year but we need to pay to plant new flowers around your parking lot and field.. you know where no one ever cares to look. Sometimes it’s the small that truly reveals what’s wrong with Trimet on the large scale.  

    So I was off from the 29th of Jan until the 7th of Feb but when I came into work I had interoffice mail. I opened the envelope and there is a complaint. 

    A complaint? How do you get a complaint when you have been home sick?

    I go see my manager and he swears it's me. I show him the incident date and it says the 30th of Jan. 

    "That can't be me I was out sick" I say. 

    "No it's you" He says adamantly.

    I offer up my doctor notes. "No look I was off those days"

    "You wanna see the video?" He asks smugly “I’ve seen it, it’s you” 

    Now I'm really intrigued, Maybe someone is masquerading as me? Trying to infiltrate Trimet and find out the truth? Maybe someone is trying even harder to damage my reputation than I am.. Who could this mystery person be?

    I agrees and my manager digs for the DVD, as he does I wonder if I can fill out for a time slip on a day I was sick. I mean if I’m going to get a complaint for working on a day I was not working, then I should get paid for that days work right?

    Sorry Taxpayers that’s the way my mind works.

    The video is from a new 3000 bus so it’s from every direction at once and date and time stamped... That’s right date and time stamped and there is no mistake of when and where it happened. 

    The over the driver camera shows a large buzz cut head, well that looks like me and only thirty other bus drivers. 

    This is what happens. 

    The driver services the stop with the door open for a while then goes to pull away. The door shuts and you can see the big fuzzy head of the driver scan around and then starts then focuses on pulling into traffic. This is how it’s done. 

    Halfway into traffic a youth comes running up and wants the bus but the driver is too focused on merging to see the youth, who is not along side his bus or at the stop places most visible to a scanning bus driver.

    As the driver is pulling away a woman runs by a parked car heading for the front of the bus and the driver puts a finger up and points at her. She looks at him, stops and backs away and the driver is out of there. 

    Now this is not a bad driver. This driver is not “double stopping” an action in traffic that causes many accidents. When car’s see a bus moving you have to  drive in a predictable way otherwise you will get rear-ended. Neither the woman nor the youth were anywhere near the stop nor signaling the driver when he pulled away. Camera’s show that. 

    The complaint reads that the youth has had the same driver do this to him three times. 

    I look at my manager who does not believe that I wasn’t there despite me not actually being at work and ask him “Hey I’m on the board I do a different run every day how can someone run into me three times in that exact situation?” 

    In perfect Orwellian form my manager is not deterred by reason. “Nope this is your complaint” 

    We then view it from the spy cam. The camera that looks at drivers. 

    Well the driver matches my hair, facial hair, he’s a big white guy and dresses like me so..

    “See that’s you” say’s my manager crossing his arms in smug bureaucratic superiority. 

    The video could be me but I know I was not there and I know I almost can’t run into anyone three times. but that is just reason and logic this is Trimet. Screw it! I figure I would rather make money, I’m about to go get a time slip to get an extra 8 hours of pay from my manager to sign when, like Columbo I spot the one thing that proves it ain’t me. 

    The driver has one of those big dangling key chains hanging off his belt. Maybe it’s a wallet chain, I don’t know, but what I do know is that for me there are three things I will never have on my body.

    THE DAN CHRISTENSEN “NEVER CATCH ME WITH THAT LIST”

    1. Puka shells: LIved in the 70’s die in the 70’s
    2. Gold Anything: Don’t need the Peacock factor
    3. Chain from my belt to Keys or Wallet
    4. Leg Warmers
    5. Silver Ank: This is not Logan’s Run... Yet

    “Look that’s not me” I yell, “No chain!” I point to my side and I have no chain. My first urge is to chant “If the chain don’t fit you have to acquit.” My manager is an ex-policeman so I figure that’s better left unsaid.  

    My Manager, thinking, Dan is crafty in his avoidance of trouble no doubt he removed his chain even before seeing this video. 

     

    Evidence on my side

    1. I was out sick
    2. No way I run into someone three times in the same circumstances
    3. I don’t wear a chain

        To me this = Innocent

     

    Evidence On my Manager Side

    1.  Dan is Crafty
    2. Vague, grainy video that looks sort of like him

        To Manager = Guilty

     

    I keep repeating that it’s not me. 

    My manager in his frustration finally decides he is going to show me once and for all, he pulls up the rout computer record for who is driving the bus. This will show me he figures. 

    He looks up the run’s the data..

    Funny? it has a different employee number. To my manager this means the system must be wrong. 

    Rule #7 of Trimet, “If the system shows you are guilty it’s 100% infallible. If it shows you are innocent it’s an anomaly.” 


    My Manager is still not convinced (See Rule 7 above), now believing there is some error in the system giving me two ID numbers he runs the ID number and pulls up the picture of the driver who signed on that route at that time. Middle 40, heavy set white bus driver who, to his utter shock, is not me.

    Not only does this prove that I was not the driver, it proves that he just looks at the video and made a guess. You know all us Middle 40’s heavy set white bus drivers must look alike or something. 

    So his guess as to who it was, overrode the fact that I was not there, provable in the computer attendance records, Provable with the doctors notes I had in my hand, provable with the log-in records for that bus. He did not get suspicious when it was noted that this same thing had happened three times to a driver who does a different run every day. 

    His guess was based on a vague shape and what? 

    Now I’m not one of the many drivers who think the managers are out to get them but what else could there be? He did no research, I was not even on another run near this run nor had I been for days. I look like only a dozen or so drivers in my garage so clearly there has to be something else? Doesn’t there?

    Or.. 

    Are managers so eager to pin a complaint on a driver they want to be guilty that they are just guessing and not actually taking the 40 extra seconds to verify in the Trimet database that

    1. Driver was not working that day

    1. The record of the driver on the bus at the time does not match
    2. The picture of the driver on the bus at that time

    Now I know 40 Seconds is a lot to ask of anyone trying to assign guilt to innocent bus drivers. How can they get on with their day of punishing drivers if they have to spend upwards of 40 seconds of research. Sure there could be a moral boosting effect of not being blamed for something you don’t do but a manager has such a busy day and 40 seconds is just too much time to ask of them. 

    Here is what my manager said. “Oh He looked like you, I’ll fix it” 

    Gee thanks.

    Now I know I’m not the only driver in this boat believe me. I also know that many bus drivers don’t give a wet slap about these complaints and this sort of error becomes part of your record unless you fight it. Most drivers don’t want to get bogged down in this sort of crap they want to do their job and go home. 

    Yes Trimet knows this thus the guilty until proven innocent. They say these complaints don’t count against you but they will keep the record of them and keep it on file just in case. Just in case of what? Well just in case it does count against you.  

    Now you know why I don’t care about the complaints I get. Most complaint’s are like this, absolutely horse pucky and you know why I don’t care for Trimet managers who are.... AWESOME AT THERE JOB’S. 

    That sad upshot of this is is I did not get to turn in a time slip with my manager signature on it for that day of work when I wasn’t there. I would love to have that extra pay even if it meant a complaint. 

    George Orwell would be so proud of Trimet. 

    Welcome back to work Dan. 

    BANG! Done! Fourteen Minutes and thirty seconds. Have to run to get my bus. 

    References (10)

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    • Response
      The Day I Wasn't There. Orwell VS. Trimet - Roll Easy Blog - Portland Oregon most beloved Trime bus driver returns to blogging
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      The Day I Wasn't There. Orwell VS. Trimet - Roll Easy Blog - Portland Oregon most beloved Trime bus driver returns to blogging
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      The Day I Wasn't There. Orwell VS. Trimet - Roll Easy Blog - Portland Oregon most beloved Trime bus driver returns to blogging
    • Response
      Response: HIV window period
      The Day I Wasn't There. Orwell VS. Trimet - Roll Easy Blog - Portland Oregon most beloved Trime bus driver returns to blogging
    • Response
      Response: Windows Fix
      The Day I Wasn't There. Orwell VS. Trimet - Roll Easy Blog - Portland Oregon most beloved Trime bus driver returns to blogging
    • Response
      The Day I Wasn't There. Orwell VS. Trimet - Roll Easy Blog - Portland Oregon most beloved Trime bus driver returns to blogging
    • Response
      The Day I Wasn't There. Orwell VS. Trimet - Roll Easy Blog - Portland Oregon most beloved Trime bus driver returns to blogging
    • Response
      The Day I Wasn't There. Orwell VS. Trimet - Roll Easy Blog - Portland Oregon most beloved Trime bus driver returns to blogging
    • Response
      The Day I Wasn't There. Orwell VS. Trimet - Roll Easy Blog - Portland Oregon most beloved Trime bus driver returns to blogging
    • Response
      The Day I Wasn't There. Orwell VS. Trimet - Roll Easy Blog - Portland Oregon most beloved Trime bus driver returns to blogging

    Reader Comments (4)

    Dan: Your'e the man! Now you don't want to sound like you are being discriminated against because you are white, middle aged, a little large,shaved head, did I say white, middle aged... My complaint today was that I nosed the bus into a stop, and left the rear end of the bus out in traffic. The customer says I should always pull the bus fully into the stop even when there is no room. Gee, I guess that means that if there is not at least 43.5 feet of space available then what? I shouldn't pick the disabled people up. Only in Portland! Only at TriMet would you get a complaint like this put in your file.
    Have a great day!!

    February 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlan

    I had a similar incident happen to me when I was accused of running a vehicle nearly off the road in a Rail MOW NRV Truck. I was called in to the manager's office a confronted with the complaint. The truck number was on the CSI and was assigned to me. I was asked if I could explain how this could happen? I couldn't offer one since my truck was in the shop with no engine and it had been there for 2 weeks. The complaint was on a day the truck was still in the shop! After a thorough investigation, I was finally exonerated.

    February 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

    Thanks for your story! It brings back a lot of memories that I don't miss at all.

    I'm a retired King County Metro operator. Even though Metro's complaint system has improved greatly through the years and sounds like it's much better than what goes on at Trimet currently, back in the mid-1970s when I first started driving buses, we had numerous managers who remind me of the Trimet manager you're describing here.

    An example: Early in my career, I was called into the office to be read a complaint that I was driving the bus excessively fast. The customer stated that I was driving over 95 MPH down a hill into Ballard. Her claim was that she witnessed it herself while standing a few feet back of the driver's area and observed the speedometer reading at 95 to over 100 MPH. While I could hear the manager cursing at me at how dare I drive a bus so fast and put so many lives at risk, etc., etc, I was sitting there scratching my head and at the same time going over in my mind how this lady could have concocted such a scenario to a point where the manager (a former bus driver himself) actually believed her. Then it dawned on me ...I blurted out, "I bet she was looking at the air pressure gauge (which was the first gauge on the right side of the instrument panel --and as large as the speedometer)!!!"

    He stopped screaming and had this dumbfounded look on his face as if the gears were turning in his head ..."ummmm, well" he stammered. "But you were still probably speeding!!" I then pointed out that the speedometers in those old buses didn't even go up to 100 MPH. "You were speeding we don't allow that here" was his retort. One last attempt to defend myself with some obtuse reasoning, I rhetorically asked "Sir, why would I even want to be going that fast down a hill where there are bus zones, traffic signals, and heavy traffic? I can't even imagine doing that." He says "Well, I'll look into it further and if there is no merit to this complaint, I'll throw it out."

    When I retired in 2005, I was able to view my records and laughed when I saw that old complaint of 30-years past was still on my record listed only as "Coach going in excess of 95 MPH" Evidently, that old manager who probably didn't even graduate high school, was convinced it was legitimate and let it stand.

    February 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertheroc

    Boy, I have had those days at TM.

    My first complaint there, a now retired Asst. Manager who shall remain nameless (R), swore up and down that she had researched this complaint fully and had concluded IT-WAS-ME...NO DOUBT. I read the complaint...reread it a second time and asked her if she was absolutely certain that the facts of the ENTIRE complaint were indeed accurate. "Yes they are" was the resposnse. Great, then I know for certain it's not me, cause this says the FEMALE driver did blah blah blah and I don't recall having a sex change recently....She grabbed the complaint out of my hand, read it, turned beet red and mumbled under her breath and then said something about fixing it later. I said, No, you need to fix it now..I take these accusations as serious as you do; apparently more serious than you do. She fixed it in front of me. As I left the room, I said, "Guess this means my next one is a freebie."


    Took about 6 weeks for the next one to come in. Same B.S.. (Yeah, we researched it..blah, blah.) This one though was just like yours. I was on the Extra Board, I had driven this line and train ONCE (but the complaint said EVERY time this driver drives it..) but the kicker was I was on a FLOATER (vacation day) that day! Strike Two for management! I had two more from this particular manager prior to their retirement...they could partially substantiate one but dismissed both because of their track record; funny thing was-they were legit!

    February 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

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