Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Buses, Frustrations, Bikes

This being my third day of actually being a bus driver, as opposed to a substitute, I like to think I'm not asking for too much.
This route I've gotten is pretty much bottom-of-the-barrel. I've been told these kids constantly have substitutes, and because of this, the route itself is slightly different than what is printed on paper.


If you constantly have someone who doesn't regularly drive that route, my thinking would be along the lines of: that's great! Follow directions, you're good to go. Noooo...

There were kids standing at all kinds of weird places, including a chicken food place. I'm sorry, do I look like a taxi? No. I'm big and yellow and last time I checked, which was this morning, it said School Bus on the side. And the front, and back. I am not a pleasure conveyance to pick up and drop off wherever a 15 to 18 year old feels like. I'm sorry, it is not my fault whatsoever that these kids got used to doing things wrong for however long they got away with it. Getting mad at me won't do any good, because I ride my bike 3 miles to work 4 times a day, and ALL of them live closer to the school than me. They have feet if they don't like it, and I'm about this close to telling them that.

The students here are snippy with bad attitudes. They act as if the bus is theirs, and how dare I even talk to them, much less ask them to make sure that window is halfway up (I was told these lovely gorgeous windows must never be all the way down, lest in that cataclysmic accident I have, a student falls out through that wide open gap. I think it might be a better alternative, personally.). They have not properly been denied the riding privilege, I think. It is not a right to ride the bus I'm driving, people, it is a privilege.

The fact that a route can get this messed up, and that people knew about it, bothers me. A route should never be allowed to get in the situation mine is in, and I can't even wait the whole week to write an email to my boss asking that he DO something. We've talked about it, sure, but meanwhile these kids are still ingrained in their bad habits and I have no leg to stand on to start fixing them. Well, maybe this will become an official stop, and eventually, I'll be allowed to leave their butts on the side of the road. That's not good enough.

The substitute for me yesterday was a mechanic. He used no directions. This is bad, people. I'm glad that you can keep things pretty much the same for 5 years straight, but I'm darn sure gonna tell you that this is the way it is today, yesterday is long gone. Grr. Those kids really got me in a bad mood this morning.

There is a stop at Soandso Rd and Suchandsuch Ave. Problem is, Soandso Rd turn into Suchandsuch Ave, right in a fairly gentle curve. Suchandsuch Ave also is a branch off to the east of Soandso Rd just before the curve. So I naturally believe the stop is at the intersection of the branch, not where the road changes names. There are a couple students at both places, so I am literally stopping, picking a couple up, and then going a couple bus lengths further to get the others. That is dumb. So I said in what I thought was a perfectly polite tone for the two at the name change to please wait at the intersection in the mornings. You'd have thought I asked them to walk 50 miles in a blizzard. The one girl was snippy and explained to me that the stop has been there for yaddyadda... you get the idea.

I'm about to give up on trying Mrs. Nicegirl. I wrote my boss and asked him to fix it, and put the updated printout in my box.

It also irks me to no end that the students who put up such a fuss over the stop on my first substituted route are back where they aren't supposed to be.

The chaos in this county is starting to get on my nerves. The bus shop is messy with pieces and parts all over... I guess I'm just not used to the way things are around here. I want to straighten things up and organize and structure. I want to know exactly who does what and what goes where. I don't really want to see the supervisor hopping on a bus in the afternoon to drive! So far it seems like he's supposed to be in charge of everything, which sucks because then you end up standing in a long line after the AM and PM runs just to ask a simple question. Not to mention all the phone calls and other stuff.


In other subjects, my bike is wonderful, of course. I gave it a bath Monday, and briefly wondered if I was being silly to think about wanting something to make the tires shiny like on a car. I took my crate off and shined up all my shinies, put everything back, and aired up the tires. The ancient hose on the ancient electric air compressor has a tiny leak at the connection where bending has weakened it after all this time. It's still perfectly usable, though.

I got sort of scared Monday morning on my commute before this bike love. My tires threw up an abnormal amount of gravel into the fenders, making a loud ringing sound almost constantly at first. The more it happened, the more I was worried, because while there isn't really a lot of glass along my route, if the tires were snatching up all these pebbles, would I get my first flat tire today? After I aired the tires, though, it only helped a little. I suppose the rain we had recently might have washed more gravel into my path. It doesn't look any different to me, but ringing fenders isn't really a cause of nervousness anymore.

The only thing I forgot to do was lubricate the chain. It was especially obvious to me that it wanted some love too. I passed by a chain link fence with those plastic inserts to make them more like a plank fence and hide what's inside. As I did, I got an admirable echo of the horrible noise my chain is making. Listening without the fence, I thought it might have been tire noise, although wind makes everything harder to hear.

At 35 degrees (isn't that almost freezing temperature?) I need to wear a hat, and thin long sleeves under my jacket. Actually, I'm pretty sure an ear-warming band or muffs would be ok. The hat not only doesn't fit under my helmet properly, but also made my brow sweaty. I had a hot neck too, which I thought was weird because it's the same windbreaker with the same collar that I always wear. Sneakers with knee socks, regular pants, and my gloves were also part of the outfit. I think I really like those gloves. That's quite a temperature range they have, though I am worried about when things go below freezing.

I'm also happy to report that Jamie was coming out behind me yesterday, and I already had my lights on and the bike through the gate. He said something to the effect of "wow, that's obnoxious" in reference to my rear light. It's under my crate because I can't mount it as intended to the seat post. I set it to the flash mode, as I believe a flashing light can be seen much better, especially a moving one. His comment made me happy that I am obviously visible to drivers. If I am annoying, its only because they can see me!

I'm considering moving my front light. It is not on the... headset? Handlebar stem? I think it's called a stem. Anyway, I wanted it sideways because that way the beam is more spread out. Mounted vertically on the handlebar means that the main center light should be pointed out and slightly down, and then you'd have the smaller side light close to your wheel, and the other one... at the sky? Maybe aimed at taller truck drivers.
Hmm, now I'm wondering why I don't have it that way, as it seems a better choice anyway with all the buses I pass (and of course wave at). Anyway, I want to move the light to the handlebars so I can make a cute handlebar bag to hang there under the bar.

I also really wanted a bag that could line the crate. I'm not sure if I should make that though. I really want the folding baskets that Wald makes. I don'tknow if making two bags (in the case I get these crates as a present) would work, I'd have to compare measurements. I've noticed that the crate keeps weight like my heavy purse too high, so that when the kickstand is down and I try to park the bike, it wants to fall over. Actually I'm really mad at the kickstand right now, because the bike is wanting to fall over even with the crate empty. It ends up with the front wheel ridiculously skewed and weight leaning heavily on the stand. I can't see that the kickstand is bent, though. It looks normal to me. So of course, with this happening and with me reading the LGRAB blog, I am really seriously wanting a double-footed kickstand, which would let my bike sit up straight and pretty like I want it to. (I've been working my way backwards through their archive looking for tips and tricks- I'm up to page 40, whoo!)

The LGRAB blog also gave me another great idea!  Jessie, you should share my blog! We could change the name to something cute, and then we could both post and everyone could be amused by our stories. Can we, can we? Pretty please with sugar on top?

If anyone reading has any comments or advice about today's topics, please don't be shy! I love to hear that someone actually is reading, and sharing ideas is always welcome. I hope I don't bore you with always talking about my work or my bike, but I tell it how it is, and that's how is it currently :P

(PS, I'll have to practice this "short post" thing, huh?)