It’s been a hell of a day here. Not only have I been busting backside on the day job, but we’ve had a little fun on the blog front as well. Let’s tell a few stories, shall we?
First, and foremost, I want to praise the amazing driver of the 44 O’Shaughnessy bus today, inbound to California and 6ht. There was a respite in today’s rain and I thought I’d take the chance to go grocery shopping as I needed a restock. Anyway, I got on the bus and at Lincoln and 9th, the bus took on passengers and got a red light.
A woman, perhaps in her 60s, got on but got caught in a wind/rain smackdown that ensured getting her umbrella drawn would be a chore. While doing so she seemed to lose a piece of jewelry or something.
Now, the bus driver was awsome enough to help her on board to ensure she did not slip on the wet bus floor. But he noticed she’d dropped something and in an amazing Jedi Bus Driver move, opened the door, ran outside, grabbed the thing she dropped and ran inside and told her she’d lost something.
The look on her face was priceless and I swear, right then and there, this was a Hallmark Frakking Moment. Me, being the slopoke I am, was fumbling for the iPhone to take a pic, but all I got was this, where you can’t see Driver McAwesome.
This is the kind of MUNI employee you want to praise. THIS is what “union labor” is supposed to be about – superior workers treated fairly, who respond in kind with, ahem, superior service. Hey, remember those ads about “look for the union label?” Well this is what it was supposed to mean.
So I Twittered this and was feeling good after a quick, smart shopping trip that cut my grocery bill by over 25%. Then I got home and read this foolish little rant from some pissed off TWU member.
I have always invited honest debate and discussion with the various unions within MUNI. Hell, go read my archives for the last 4 frakkin’ years to find that out. It’s not like overpaid MUNI bureaucrats are making any friend with us, the burdened taxpayers who pay for the system.
So when I read this crapola that told me to “get a damn car” well let’s just say the awesomeness I was feeling about MUNI went straight out the window and frankly, if I read tomorrow that someone shipped TWU’s leadership to Siberia, I wouldn’t be crying. I mean, WTF?
The open hostility and contempt shown to you and I, the citizen/owners of MUNI by an overpaid jerkoff who clearly cares for nothing but lining their own pockets, was appalling. News flash, jerk: if you want to line your pockets without regard for others, go to Wall Street and get a job doing Madoff’s gig. Otherwise STFU. I and my brothers and sister citizens who ride MUNI will be happy to back you up, but only if you back us up too. Fair’s fair.
Finally, there’s ABC7’s report regarding that smackdown administered by a MUNI bus driver last month. After watching the camera footage, I think we have a case of a “one half bad” driver.
The driver was entitled to kick some drunk jerk off the bus – this we can agree on. But taking the bait and punching him out was stupid. Yes, driving a bus can suck (Hell I hate driving in San Francisco so much I gave up a car!) and I get that.
But when a pro lets themselves take the bait from some total loser who has nothing to lose is uncool. Like those of us in non-union contract jobs, sometimes you have to let it go, go take a run, go to yoga, have a Guinness or whatever and not let that troll ruin your day.
So, to be clear: Unions are good things. Most of MUNI’s workers WANT to do a good job. The TWU has to stop backing up jerks who hate us, hate those who actually pay their salaries and need to learn the concept of “solidarity” with us, the many, who pay the bills and ride the bus and just want it to work.
Kicking us in the face does nothing but make us hate those who make the system run every day. It is time to end the choose-up-sider baloney and start thinking about how we’re going to save our system and our City in the face of budget wackiness that’s off the chain.
That is all.
Hey, maybe we can form a Muni Riders’ Union. With our union dues we can buy nice things for the good drivers, and boycott the bad drivers or something. Maybe get some volunteer dispatchers to help keep the service running smoothly even. The key to not becoming an LA-style BRU is to stick to the point: we want to make Muni better, and save it from the incompetent managers and drivers, while encouraging the competent ones.
I was going to e-mail you about the awesome driver on the L that I experienced on Thursday and Friday (more fun than adding a comment to a post that’s buried by more recent posts). Instead, I’ll mention the 90 minute commute I had this evening… ending with a $20 cab ride home (and we still beat the train!). Un-freaking believable. There was a medical emergency this evening at Van Ness. Not one person thinks to recall all the trains to the stations, and instead they’re okay with the concept of leaving a crush loaded two car train (well, many of them) to rot in the tunnel. The driver didn’t even think to point out that the train was going to move (despite having a clear indication in advance of said behavior).
Hey Union Man, the group you’re suggesting already exists. It’s called Rescue Muni:
@eric @unionman: I think Rescue MUNI does a good job on policy type stuff, and had some successes in the 90s that they deserve credit for. That said it’s not a mass movement type organization. that’s not to say it’s bad at all – but it has limits too.
NYC has a PIRG (ugh) sponsored group that tries to be a mass movement and has had successes too, despite being under the aegis of the PIRG movement, which I’m not really a fan of.
However, take a look at the Bicycle Coalition. They wield all kinds of “power” and have influence we hapless muni riders can only dream of. But they also have the power of the fact that if you’re a bicyclist, it’s an integral part of your entire life. If you ride a bike every day, it determines what kind of job you have, what kind of food you eat, and so on. Plus, when you meet other bicyclists, you’ve got some solidarity with your fellow riders as you share stories, tips on bike maintenance and so on.
For those of us who ride MUNI, though, our focus is on just getting to work or to the store or doing our business, and MUNI is a means to an end. Even for die-hards like me who rely on MUNI for my daily work and life, still don’t ID ourselves as “Muni people” the way the bike people do.
The challenge is to organize people and use a combo of old school and high tech to get more people to self-ID as a MUNI rider and then be willing to take action and give them things to do to advance la causa. I like bikes as much as the next person, but bikes alone are no solution to our city’s woes. And the fact that Democrats elected to the Legislature have been the biggest proponents of cutting mass transit funds year after year after year, only to see now, in a time of “fiscal crisis” that the only solution is to ELIMINATE funding means it’s time that blogs alone won’t get us out of this mess.
@Alex: The Civic Center was definitely under some kind of Muni curse this evening. At 4:30 the police and fire department closed Van Ness in both directions in the block between between Grove and McAllister (meaning City Hall and the Opera House). It stayed closed until 7:30 and of course the police don’t talk to anyone but each other, so the bus drivers knew nothing and weren’t giving out any information to anybody. It was a serious mess, and then, with exquisite timing the gay marriage rally came marching down Market Street to City Hall midway through all this. It was definitely an evening to walk instead of ride.
@SFmike: there was a bomb scare by Civic Center also, which ensured maximum delays….
I’m going to have to agree to disagree on your positions on unions though.
Just like Christianity, Communism, or “The Free Market”, they are nice in theory and last all of about 5 seconds in the real world before becoming hopelessly corrupt… but good post.