I'd Never Do Your Job

I come from a background where money may not be the root of all evil, and it was acknowledged that it did indeed grow on trees, but that there were two types of money: Good money and bad money. You never wanted to throw good money after bad. And there was a nuance between money earned and money given. Or money found by luck, or money made easy. I never heard too much about money made easy. Honest money made was the best money. A penny saved was a penny earned. But, boy did that sound like a lot of plodding and not too much fun. So it should come as no surprise, if I worked hard to make money, it should therefore be good money. I was pleased to find work as a transit operator in the city by the bay, the Bagdad by the bay, the city that never sleeps, which was a hard job but a good paying job. I hit the family ancestral jackpot. I was making good money at a hard job in line with my family history.

But I noticed early on in my Muni riding days, that some drivers looked relatively relaxed, and nothing seemed to phase them. And some were actually fun to talk to. And that there did seem to be a way in which to make their work look easy and relaxing, and yet is a high paying job. So the seed was planted early on that this might be a good job for me. As a Gemini sun sign, transportation and continual movement fits my sign.

Fast forward to San Francisco and the late nineties. Newly elected Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr., Esq., was mandated to fix Muni in his first 100 days, and he took immediate action to hire more bus drivers. I went to the Moscone job fair and put in to get on the list. Finally, at age 39, I was finally making a plan about choosing a job that seemed more like a career or occupation than just a need to get another paycheck fast. 

The first thing that comes up about why someone would not want my job is, “the people.” But where in the world do we not have a job involving other people? And if I am to be resentment free, can I not take quiet time every day to see what amends I can make to determine my part in any negative reaction? To me this is where the rubber meets the road: The path that separates the men from the boys. I see so many miserably quiet lives departing the bus after work daily I sometimes feel like I am the only happy bozo on the bus! Gee, is it that bad? And if I smile, I try to break the grimace of the boarding face. Usually it works.

I guess I need to do more research about why someone would never do my job, but I guess in a way it adds to my job security. Most people don’t realize once the mental hurdles are pushed into the background, it is the physical stress that can take its toll and put continued work in to jeopardy. Stopping and starting, braking on a downhill with a full load: day in and day out. As Harrison Ford quipped in one of his action movies after incredible odds, “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.”

 Getting to the Zen zone keeps this in balance. I certainly have had to deal with these demons at the fare box, or when someone is running to get to the door.

excerpted from Finding Zen in SF Transit: https://books2read.com/b/3R1JqR?edit=maybe-later

22 Fillmore crossing Duboce outbound on a lazy afternoon.
22 Fillmore crossing Duboce outbound on a lazy afternoon.

First Stop

Know Where to Stand


When I pull out in the morning, I always smile and say hello to my first customer. I try to make this an important barometer for how the day will go. And it gives me an instant check-in to see where I am at in my head, and whether or not I am present to be of service. Yes, the job gives great paychecks, but I have always followed the precept; do what you like and the money will follow. Even though I believe most city employees think more about their paycheck than the service they provide to get it, I do know placing service first is actually my best action to create job security.

I am surprised to admit I may not be following this belief for more than half the time I spend behind the wheel. Or at least I am not aware that I am. Most of my actions become subconscious, which is great from a Zen point of view, but it takes considerable effort to get back to a service first mode when I am running late and heavy.

So the great thing about the first stop and the first passenger is that none of burdens of being late, exist, usually. And I always try to find a start time that doesn’t put me behind the eight ball from the get go.

I found out I am not a rush hour downtown bus driver. I am a crosstown guy who avoids being on that inbound trip at 8:30 a.m. or that 5:15 p.m. trip outbound. Crosstown is where it’s at for me. The Muni meaning behind “doing homework” means checking out the paddles: to see where the run is in the morning and in the afternoon. Paddles are the individual timetable for each bus driver’s run. You can usually see this on the visor above the operator. People always ask me what the bad line is. I say there are no bad lines: Only bad leaving times.

Read the full story below:


We Got Air!


On a recent week the temperatures stayed above 90 degrees. And a funny thing happened in the news about Muni. Nothing. All surface trolleybuses stayed in service. There was no Muni Meltdown! Thanks to John Halley and Ed Reiskin's overseeing new trolley purchases we had no news, which is good news! We also have air conditioning in our new trolleys. It's like having a new job! 

The High Line

The High Line

On my recent visit to NYC, I got to walk along an old elevated rail line.

Along the west side of Manhattan, an old rail line for produce delivery to the south end, has been converted to a walking trail. Here is a photo showing the old tracks covered over by the plantings for shade along the way.

Muni Heritage Day

Cockpit of the Mack


Meet the MACK, a 1950's Motorcoach still in mint condition. 

"Yes, I can make change."


Just like Tom Hanks in Polar Express, we still made change and punched tickets.

Mack Window side control dash


These old toggles still work great and are a lot more durable than the knobs we have now: this was built to last.

Turning Tricks


Turn signal cowling on the 1969 GM Bus on display by Ferry Plaza on Muni Heritage Day 2019.

The Fishbowl


"To the moon Alice, to the moon."

Original 60's Livery


These colors remain bold to this day.

Don Chee Streetcars

A short video showing the diversity of Muni's historic streetcars by Ferry Plaza.

San Francisco Skyline

Check out the summer fog by the Golden Gate Bridge!

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Transmitter Ball (jpg)