“So what’s so hard about having a baby”?

     “So what’s so hard about having a baby”?  Ever know anybody who asked that question to a pregnant lady and lived to talk about it?

     My advice would be to never, ever let those words escape from your mouth.  And to be even safer, don’t even think those thoughts, for fear that a pregnant woman, any pregnant woman would read your mind and ring your neck before you formed your thoughts into audible words!

      But if you do make that mistake of speaking them and live through it, you may hear the following statement regarding the birthing of a baby: “You pull a watermelon out of your nostril and then we’ll talk!”

     I find myself needing to ask a few questions: “If watermelons are that dangerous, why is anybody standing with their nostril that close to such a dangerous fruit in the first place”?  And, “Are we talking the round, smaller-than-a-bowling-ball watermelon or one of those longer-than-it-is-wide watermelons”?  Also, “How does one go about getting a watermelon up the nose in the first place?  Was the watermelon self-implanted or was there help putting it up there?  And then, “What if watermelons are not in season?  Will a zucchini work or should one go from fruit stand to fruit stand in pursuit of the perfect nasal orb”?  Final question, “Wouldn’t it be wiser to have the watermelon-up-the-nose surgically removed by a qualified surgeon than trying to pull it out yourself”? 

     I don’t know what to think now.  Evidently, I never made the mistake of asking my wife the original question about the difficulty of having a baby because I can still go near watermelons with no fear of a nasal filling.  We, well, actually my wife gave birth to six healthy babies, none of them remotely comparable to a melon.  I have managed to keep my nose clean through all six of them.  And now, we have four grandchildren, and none of them resemble melons of any sort in any way!  The cool thing was that none of them came from the garden or had to be watered daily. 

     What I’m thinking is that it would be safer to play marbles on the freeway, during rush hour, with hand grenades, than to ask a pregnant woman what is so hard about having a baby!  That’s my conclusion!


States I have been to

<a href="
visited 24 states (48%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or Free ipad travel guide” title=”States I have been to”>States I have been to

These are the states I can remember that I have been to, some before I got married. 


    What does a colander, kidney stones and Church have in common?  This is the question on the front of every thinking person’s frontal brain lobe, isn’t it?  If it is, here is my answer to my own question.

     They all came together one hot, summer Sunday morning at our Church.  It began when one of our Church ladies started cornering people who were still inside the Church.  She was carrying one of those short, squatty plastic glasses that a person gets from the local convenience store from the soda fountain.  The cup appeared to be filled with something cold because beads of condensation had formed on the glass and were temptingly sliding down its side.  Was it a soft drink, iced tea or just ice water?  Any one of them would have been welcomed on such a warm day as it was turning out to be.  What I had hoped for, what I had imagined in the cup was not at all what the cup actually held.

      Like the rest of the unsuspecting Church people whom the woman had trapped, I too was given the opportunity to see something only a few eyes have seen.  At least, that is the feeling the woman was trying to push-off on us.  

     “Ivan, you gotta see this”.

     I had to see it?  What if I didn’t want to?  I wished I had gone with my frontal brain lobe thought that said, “Run far and fast.  You ain’t going to wanna see that!”  Sadly, I didn’t listen to myself!

     Frozen in the clear ice of the glass, suspended in cold storage, were small, smooth, hardened clumps of what looked like peanut butter with a slight case of Jaundice.   Yellowish, beanish looking orbs. 

     After the show of’ show and tell’ came the ‘tell’ part and tell she did.  Her explanation blasted any thought of wanting an ice-cold, refreshing drink far from my mind because of what we were having deciphered to us.  Kidney stones.  Those globulations on ice were kidney stones.  To be more precise, they were her kidney stones!  She had cultivated, produced, grown and somehow harvested her own kidney stones. They were locally raised, one owner, genuine kidney stones from a lady in our Church.  What more could a person ask for?  More details? Definitely not! Not me.  I was not going to ask for any details.  I had seen enough and had managed quite well to keep my breakfast down, up to that point, though it was becoming somewhat of a struggle. 

     I didn’t need to ask.  She didn’t need to be asked.  She was the queen of show and tell!  I knew she had not recently had any operations because she had not missed any Church. Her story of explanation was deep with explanation of her taking some kind of special medication to get the stones, her stones in motion.  In order to tell if the procedure was doing any good, she had placed a kitchen colander in the toilet every time she ‘did her duty’.  That was how she had managed to catch and collected the stones.  For a woman who did a lot of fishing, why she didn’t believe in the ‘catch and release’ idea, I’ll never know.   After catching, all that was left for her to do was to add water to her specimens, freeze them to keep them fresh, just so she could show them to everyone at Church.  That included all who were not interested or had weak stomaches which basically covered every person in our Church!  The good news in all of this is that no one puked, at least not publicly. 

I have come up with this CONCLUSION: In the end, I thought that a person like her was just the one to start a chapter of KSAP or Kidney Stone Anonymous Passers.  They could meet weekly after completing a Twelve Flush Program.  One by one, they could stand and say something like, “Hi, my name is so and so and in the past, I have been kidney stoned.  Not anymore.  I have been relieved.  Let us now pass the plastic glass around.”

     By the way, that’s all I have to say on the subject,  just in passing!

     (The above sketch is another of my early attempts to sketch my thoughts with the only resources I had available at the time.)

FOOD FOR (the) THOUGHT(less)


The other day, I drew the CONCLUSION that I’m not against sitting down with the family and having a meal together. We do it all the time. It helps keep the family, well, together! Evening meal time is a time of sharing, talking about the events of the day and generally, a place to chew the fat. (Not that we chew much fat. We’ve tried to cut out as much fat out of our diet as possible.)

I remember one night, many years ago when, after having our meal together, I did what I usually did after a hard day at work. I herded three youngest of our six kids off to bed while the oldest two, mom and the baby stayed up a little while longer. It was only about 9 PM and, as usual, I was sleepy. So……..since Dad was going to bed, the younger three should also go to bed. I thought that all I had to do was to tuck them into their beds and then I could be off to mine. That should have been it. That should have been the extent of my duties at night. How hard could something like that be? How long could that take? That was the way it was supposed to be but that was not the way it was going to be that night!

I tucked the two youngest kids into their bunk beds and the older one into his double bed. It was at precisely that magical moment that the action began. Requests, excuses, tattlings, whinings and general chaos.

“Can I have a drink”?

“I have to go potty”.

“I’m hungry now“.

“I’m cold”.

“I’m too hot”.

“Will you scratch my back”?

These and so many more stall tactics were incorporated, even before the tungsten in the switched off light bulb had cooled down. I wasn’t going to turn the light back on so I did my best to deal with the kids in the dark. And then, there was one question that always caused me to turn the light back on. One question I simply could not resist. One question, which looking back on it now, many years later, I realize the kids knew I couldn’t resist.

“Dad, will you read to us”?

“Okay, just a short bedtime story”, I thought. After all, I enjoyed a good bedtime story as much as the other kids did but that night, I wanted to read something I felt was interesting to me. Unfortunately, classic poetry was out of the question, unless of course, it was the all educational Dr. Seuss or the Bernstein Bears. What I was going to read had to be light and childish and something a little bit more exciting than a picture book. To my way of thinking, all of their choices of reading material were about as exciting as the getting the flu! After much begging, I graciously gave in.

“Fine! I’ll read the book you chose”!

I was too tired to argue anymore about whatever it was that they had chosen so I lay down on the double bed with two kids laying on one side of me and one on the other side. I began reading but abruptly stopped my reading when I had a question of my own to ask.

“How come it smells like someone wet the bed”?

One of the kids replied, “Because they did”!


“Right where you’re laying Dad”.

By then, it was too late to move. I had already begun to sponge it up. Gross! I quickly made a mental note that from then on, I would not give the kids anything to drink…. for three days before I put them to bed!

As for the bedtime story I had begun to read, somewhere after the first five or so pages of a twenty page book, the story had worked its magic. The sound of snoring was echoing off of the walls, but that was only to be short-lived. One of the kids interrupted the noise by saying, “Dad, wake up. You’re keeping us awake with your sleeping!”

Was it my fault I couldn’t keep my eyes open when I stretched out on a bed with a good child’s book in my hands? A moment’s relaxation could have turned into a night’s sleep, if only the kids had not interrupted me. I was so ready for sleep, why weren’t they?

I tried reading again and again, the story worked its magic. I closed my eyes for just a second and the next thing I knew, the kids were fighting and crawling all over me as if I was a human jungle gym. Right about then, my wife called out and asked me, “Are you putting the kids to bed or not”?

When I said, “Yes Dear”, she said, “It sure doesn’t sound like it”! Then she added something like, “Did I need her to come in and do it for me”?

Like I needed her to do my job! Then again, I did wonder why they were having such a hard time falling asleep when I was having no trouble at all.

It wasn’t too long before, once again, I was lulled off to lull-lull land by the rhythmic soothing sounds of the kids screaming and hollering at each other! I never did know how long it was before I woke up to the sound of too much quietness. The sound of silence was eerie. It was plain to see that the kids were still not asleep, that much was easy enough for any sleepy-eyed Dad to see. Something was wrong. They were not fighting! There was no screaming. No one was wetting the bed! Instead, the only noise I heard them making was a munching, crunching, chewing sound. I wanted to know what was going on.

The two youngest kids were sitting on one side of me and the older one sat on the opposite side as I lay in their bed. Their positioning had not changed. The three sat there, quite contentedly chomping on some of those little fish-shaped cheese crackers. They weren’t being very neat about it either. As I began to wake up a little bit more, I began to wonder why I was covered with crumbs. Cheese cracker crumbs.

As it turned out, while I had been sleeping, the kids had gotten hungry and one of them had quietly gone for snacks. Whether on purpose or not, they had shared their munchies with me, turning me into a piece of furniture. Specifically, I had been used as a table. Each kid had put their personal stash of cheesy crackers somewhere on my belly. Quietly, politely and one at a time, the kids were eating their crackers from off of my tummy. I was covered with a mess of yellow crumbs up and down my belly and I had an itching in my belly button.

Looking back on it all now, there were three things I should be thankful for. First, they were all quietly sharing. Second, they were eating crackers instead of something that required forks, knives and spoons. And, third, if it had been potato chips they were eating, they may have used my belly button to hold the chip dip! Now that would have been disgusting!

     Below is another sketch I made in ink, on colored, lined paper, years ago.   I have since discovered erasures, white, unlined paper and colored pencils.  Now, that’s progress! 



     Sounds rather disgusting, doesn’t it? Nose putty! Call it ‘nasal glue’, ‘nostril paste’ or ‘whatsnot’, it’s still, well, still disgusting but let me try to explain why I would pick such a deep, dark, secretive subject to talk about.

     Several years back, while listening to a Sunday morning sermon in our Church, I happened to glance over at the little boy who was sitting in our row.  I had learned earlier that the boy was nine years old and it was his father who was delivering the message that day. Though his father was an interesting Preacher, as the service proceeded, it was his son who held my attention all the way through.

     I noticed that the boy had what appeared to be a dark blood blister on the tip of his forefinger and I was only slightly curious as to how he got it.  It didn’t matter.  I had come to Church to worship God, not pay attention to anyone in my pew.  Before my mind had a chance to wonder back to the speaker, I soon realized that what I had been looking at was a well-worn, flattened out booger ball! The boy had only been storing it temporarily on his fingertip for future use, all of which I soon was able to witness, whether I liked it or not!

     You may have heard the old saying that goes, “You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose but you can’t pick your friend’s nose”!  Right?  Judging from the size of the wad he was maneuvering, this boy must have had several gracious friends who had allowed him to freely pick, generously giving him what he had needed!  That which he kneaded was more than I cared to cast my eyes upon.  It was obvious to me that the boy had maybe just heard his father’s message the Sunday prior.  To keep from being bored out of his skull, he had bored something out of his skull to concentrate on!

     Several times throughout the service, I tried to take my focus off of him and refocus my thoughts back on his dad’s preaching.  I was doing just fine untill I made the mistake of looking over at the boy a few minutes later and noticed that the booger was missing from the his finger. It was no longer between his finger and thumb.  Instead, it had been moved to the tip of his nose, close to the source of it’s original origin!

     Again, I put my mind back on the message and again, was successful for only a short time. Unfortunately, my curiosity got the best of me and my eyes strayed to my little boogery pew neighbor. That time when I looked, I noticed that the boy had folded up a dollar bill he had pulled from who knows where and firmly secured it to the end of his nose by the same black lump he had been working earlier. Thus, the fitting terms, ‘nose putty’, ‘nasal glue’, ‘nostril paste’ or ‘whatsnot’!

     Once more, I steered my mind back to the message his father was continuing to deliver as his son continued to wear the dollar bill on the end of his nose. Ignorantly, I thought the situation could not get worse, but when I looked over at the boy, I promptly proved myself wrong. The situation had gotten worse. The booger ball was then being employed to hold the dollar bill to his chin, looking a little like a cheap dollar goatee.

     By that time, I had completely lost any inkling of actually concentrating on the message of his father, though I still tried to pretend that I was listening to him.  I asked myself, “How could his dad not see what was going on with his son”?  Perhaps he had noticed all of my squirming and thought I was getting convicted by his sermon, causing him to preach even harder.  What he didn’t realize was that my uncomfortableness was not coming from his message but from his snotty little kid who was occupying a space in my pew!

     A few minutes later, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that the dollar bill and the nose putty were both missing from his face. What a relief! They were not on his nose and they were not on his chin.  At that point though, I only hoped for two things. One, that the dollar bill was not  going to end up in our tithe box after the service was over. We just didn’t need any donations which came with (snot) strings attached!  And two, I hoped that he had not eaten the booger, or the dollar as far as that was concerned!

     As the morning had already shown me, I didn’t have long to wait before my next answer came concerning what had happened to the missing booger. The dollar bill never did reappear but the booger continued to live on at the touch of the little boy. Booger Boy had smeared his home-grown ‘play dough’ across the inner side of the arm rest of the wooden pew we were sitting in! That seemed to be his last desperate attempt to lose any connection he had ever had with the booger toy he had so fondly embraced throughout a 45 minute sermon.

     When at long last the message was over, I found myself urgently wanting to get out of our pew, even though i was fully aware that the only route of escape was to squeeze past the same area in which the boogery scene had taken place all morning. Early on, I had made up my mind that whether the young boy was a visitor or not, I would restrain my usual practice of shaking hands with him as I normally would have.  No way did I want to shake the hand that had played in Booger Land!

    Throughout the rest of the day, I tried my best to remember what the message had been about.   What really worried me was that I was not going to take home any part of the message his father had so diligently preached. My true fear was that the only thing I was going to take with me that day was the remnant of the little boy’s nose.

     My CONCLUSION concerning the content of the message that morning, was that for some reason, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Nothing seemed to stick. Even now, I try to recall it, but nope, it’s just snot happening!

     I drive a city bus in the Portland, Oregon area. I have seen, heard and even been a part of various situations which involve the driving of a bus. What you read is not meant to come across as bitter, hurtful or prejudiced towards anyone in any way. I’m just sharing my thoughts with you about my work day. This particular blog started as a list of ‘myths about bus driving’ but the more I wrote, the more it became evident to me that I could be writing a list of pet peeves. Some are my own personal ones, some are those of fellow bus drivers. What I have written is not necessarily in order of importance. I hope you find a bit of humor and enjoy reading what I have to say.



     I’m sorry but if you dart out in front of me as I’m driving the legal, posted speed limit, my bus is going to need an awfully long dime to stop on! Say, well, more distance than you want to find out about! Hope you’re not the one my bus comes in contact with because of a poor judgment call you made while driving, biking or walking.  Momentum rules the stopping distance of a bus, not dimes!




     A question like that is a bus driver’s biggest fear as well as the worst nightmare of anyone who drives any form of transportation. Causing an injury or worse yet, a death to anyone, has ruined many a good driver’s life. No one in their right mind likes to joke about taking the life of someone else, not even the hardest bus driver out there. If something happens to cause injury or death, we as bus drivers ask ourselves over and over, hundreds of times, “Could I have prevented the accident?” “Could I have done something different?”                                                                                                                                           

     Never, ever joke about killing someone! Would you ask a surgeon, “How many people have you killed today?”? Why not? Because, sometimes, accidents happen. Things beyond our control. Things we had no way of changing the outcome of a terrible situation.  That’s why they are called ‘accidents’.




     Let me qualify this myth. Not every bus driver is a jerk, just some of them. Just like you are sometimes a jerk, just like you will find on any other job, jerks exist in our society. When it comes to bus drivers, some drivers may be having “one of those days”. Not a very good excuse but who of us have not used the excuse when we act like jerks? Unfortunately, you may have boarded the bus at a particularly bad time when the driver has turned from “Mr. Nice Guy” to “Mr. Get On-Sit Down-Shut Up And Hang-On-Guy”. In defense of the truly good guys, let me just say, most drivers are too professional to let their (jerkish) emotions cloud their courtesy to the public. Remember: “He who is a jerk today may be an angel of compassion tomorrow”. (If not tomorrow, perhaps the next day………If not the next day….or the next….report them to their employer! Jerks don’t last as bus drivers, generally speaking.)




     Don’t you wish? Don’t I wish! Some buses don’t have A/C at all and the windows are the only form of relief a rider has. At stop after stop, when it’s 100 degrees outside, with no air movement inside or outside; inside the bus, it’s going to be 20-30 degrees hotter. Funny thing about it is that it’s just as hot for the driver as it is for the rider! The difference is, you, the rider can escape the “oven on wheels” at the next stop, even if it isn’t your originally planned stop. The driver- they continue to roast till their next break or untill the end of their shift. Even buses that are equipped with A/C doesn’t always guarantee it’s going to be a cooler bus than those without A/C. The constant opening and closing of the front and back door as passengers board and de-board generally lets out more cooler air than the A/C can produce. Some buses with A/C have no opening windows so when the A/C is on the blink or hasn’t caught up with the exiting cool air, that nice, new air-conditioned bus becomes an oven. A/C does not stand for “All’s Cool” or “Always Comfortable”. Think of it as sometimes standing for “A Challenge” or something like that.




     If it isn’t the A/C that breaks down, it could be a host of other things that do. New buses are not supposed to break down but even new buses don’t always perform the same way in the real life work field as they did at the testing facility. Bugs still need to be worked out. The terrain, the climate, the maintenance and so on all affect when, where and how often ‘your’ bus breaks down. How about your car? Even if it was a new car, did it ever break down on you? If it did, were you carrying 50 plus people, (total strangers), in your vehicle? Nobody likes to break down. It’s not like people get on a bus and think, “I hope my bus breaks down today and leaves me stranded somewhere”!  Well…most people don’t want to be on a broken down bus in the slow lane to Nowheresville.



     I don’t think so! Has it ever happened? Yes but not my bus. Is that driver who let someone else behind the steering wheel still driving a bus? Not for our bus company! Not just anyone can drive a bus because not everyone can pass the test. Where I live, a CDL license is required for bus driving. We are driving what is considered a “straight truck”, almost like driving a semi-truck and trailer which require a CDL. At this time, none of our buses ‘bend in the middle’ like a semi truck and trailer do. Those buses are called “articulated” buses and there are some cities that have them. When driving a 40 foot long bus, the back tires ‘track’ different than the front tires do. That is, the front set of tires may clear the curb on a corner but the rear duals may jump that same curb. Pity the object, (light pole, fire plug or whatever) that is in the way if the rear tires roll over them!



     This, my friend, is the reality. Schedules will and do change. Ridership or the lack of it, funds or the lack of them determine scheduling. Sometimes, it is next to impossible for a bus driver to keep on a pre-planned schedule so to compensate, time is either added to or taken away by those in the scheduling department. Obviously, we drivers would rather see time added because driving a “tight” schedule adds to the challenges we already face. Things like road construction also does a number to the schedules. Cutting corners to save money sometimes means cutting service to where a bus does not run as frequently as it had once done.



     Where I work, a rider can use a pass to ride. They can buy them by the hour, the day, the month or the year. Sometimes, the employer pays for the pass or the government pays for it. Whoever funds the ride is none of our knowledge or concern. What concerns us as drivers is if you as a rider  want to ride my bus for free. Everyone else either pays cash or presents their bus pass to the driver. They paid, so why shouldn’t you?  If you are new or are confused, most bus drivers will work with you. We have all forgot our ID badges, our gate passes, our money and so on. Just be open, honest and up front about why you want a free ride.  But trick me once, shame on you. Trick me twice, double shame on you. You may find yourself not getting a ride if you are recognized as a regular “free loader”. True, we don’t make our money off of your money. In other words, we are not paid on a commission. It doesn’t affect us as to how many or how few ride our bus but it just isn’t fair to the other riders who have to pay for their rides.



     Can you imagine having 40, 50 or up to 60 or more back seat drivers? On a really crowded bus, on a really busy route, on a really trying day, you don’t want everyone telling you how to drive. Now, if we are brand new to a route we have never driven before (it does happen) and if we ask for help, that’s different. Generally, one or two nice riders get us to our destination, a place they have been to many times. Generally, most riders want to get from point A to point B and are more than willing to help. Hey, they don’t want to mess up any more than we do. But then, it seems like there is always one in every crowd, that is someone who gives a running commentary on our driving. Everyone knows if we had to come to a stop faster than we were expecting.  No comment is needed about what a sudden stop we made.  We made it to avoid a wreck or a dangerous situation.  We already knew we stopped fast!  Likewise, everyone knows when we had to drive on the curb at a turn to avoid another driver who either didn’t realize or didn’t care that a bus’ turn radius is not very tight. If everyone already knows it, my question is, “Why does the obvious need to be stated”?



     I’m sorry but not all of us have cast iron stomaches. Sometimes, too many details are too much. And pictures are out of the question for two reasons. 1) We are driving! and 2), I may not appreciate your personal pictures as much as you do. Generally, I don’t get to tell you about my ‘other-than-a-bus-driver-life’ unless you ask and generally, you don’t ask! Forgive us if we force something on your ears that we ourselves wouldn’t want to hear about! Some things are not necessarily meant to be shared like Aunty Suzy and her who knows?!



     Not even! Falling down on my bus could mean a couple of things. Perhaps, your physical condition caused your fall. Some uncontrolled situation caused the bus to move in such a way that it knocked you off of your feet. It could be wet and slick and you lost your footing. You tripped over someone’s feet or their possessions that you could not or did not see. Sometimes, no matter how careful a driver is, falls can’t always be avoided.  Sometimes, our vision is blocked by a packed bus and we don’t even know you have fallen.  Sometimes, you sit, we pull out in traffic and are looking ahead when you decide to move and you end up falling.  Again, events like these are called ‘accidents’. 



     Popular as the song may be in your mind, as much as you love the song, personally, that song drives me crazy! Why? Because I hate it! Why do I hate it? If I was driving a bus of pre-schoolers or elementary kids, I could handle it. Why the leniency for kids? Because happy or bored kids sing songs. Kids sing simple songs. Kids sing songs that are repetitious. Kids sing songs that repeat the same phrase over and over and over. That’s how kids learn. They are supposed to be annoyavating and agrivoying! That’s their job. I was once an anoyavating and agrivoying kid myself! I too was pretty young when I was a child just like I was pretty young when I was born! I didn’t know any better. Until I started driving a bus, I didn’t realize that one of the songs that can push a bus driver over the edge of sanity is “The Wheels On The Bus…..”. Of course the wheels go round and round! They’re round! If they were square, they would go “Ca-chunk, Ca-chunk, Ca-chunk….” If the wheels on the bus went “Flop, Flop, Flop……..” it would mean they were flat. They’re not! Thus explaining why they go round and round!  Don’t sing to me what I already know!  Please!   


     Ah, yes! An old favorite. “Are we there yet”? “Are…we….there…..yet?” Your “there” may not be the one stop you are looking for. You may get to your “there” a lot sooner than you expected because it will become my choice of where you get off.  When we get there, we will be there but until then, WE……..ARE……..NOT………THERE……YET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Thank you.



     How many times have you seen a piece of art signed by the painter? Van Gogh or Picasso signed their name as Van Gogh or Picasso. They were proud of their work and usually, they had reason to be proud of it. But when a vandal signs their work, (we call it graffiti), they sign it something like this. InyoUrfAceAce.   Different colors and shapes and sizes and code names that very few people understand. Many ‘signatures’ are undecipherable. Many are vulgar. Many ‘signers’ are no more more artistic than I am! I guess vandals want to be recognized as much as the next person. Personally, I say, “Go buy a sketch book; paint, easel and canvas or hire on to paint the Golden Gate Bridge”! Whatever you do, please don’t vandalize the bus.  It’s not yours to vandalize.



     Big myth! Big trouble if you do assault the bus driver. Personally, I have never been physically attacked though I have been, more than once, verbally assaulted. My Mother has been insulted by some irritated rider. Funny thing, they didn’t even know my Mother! She lives several states away.  For some reason, they felt they had to bring her into the conversation through crude remarks about me being her son (if you get my drift)! I have also been “assaulted” as vulgar body parts and I have even been given some titles I had never heard before! Fortunately, this doesn’t happen very often. Like most drivers, most riders are courteous and decent individuals.

     Sadly, there are a few riders who have assaulted to the extreme, as in physically assaulting the driver. Most attacks are on women drivers and some attackers attack because their mentality has been affected by some mind altering substance. Some assaults are when the exiting rider spits on the driver, which in today’s day and age can be dangerous in itself. The good news is that most buses are equipped with security cameras so the violator is generally caught on tape and then caught in person. Heavy fines and jail time often are the reward they get for their effort.  It’s just not worth it to assault a bus driver.



     Tied in with the above comment about mind altered circumstances, these incidents are also few and far in between, at least for me. Puking or relieving oneself on the bus is considered a biohazard just as blood is at accident scenes. Any bodily fluid or solid can be potential dangerous and the bus riders have to be de-boarded and the bus has to be cleaned or  “decontaminated”. Not a pretty site and my thanks goes out to the cleaning crew who has to deal with a mess on a bus.



     Ah, yesiree! Our theme song is not, “Ring My Bell” any more than it is, “The Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round”! Generally, when the cable is pulled to alert the driver that a stop is needed, it rings only once until the bus stops, the door is opened, the riders exit and the closing of the door resets it. Sometimes, that system isn’t working right and the bell can be rung more than once. RING! RING!….RING! RING!… RING! RING! RING!RING!RING! RRRRRIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNGGGGG!  The only ‘ring’ we can think of then is, ‘If you ring that bell one more time, I will ring your scrawny little neck’!  Of course, it’s not polite to think those thoughts out loud!



     Yeah, not really! Picking your nose and wiping it on the seat, the windows or anywhere else humans or even aliens can come in contact with is not cool or appreciated. “Digging for gold” or any other color of the mucus rainbow actually upsets most of the other riders. Thankfully, sometimes, even mercifully, as a driver, I don’t always get to see the action as it happens! Most of the offenses happen behind my back, literally! Generally, if a rider primps and preens, I don’t worry too much about having to remove them from the bus. I have had to remove riders who spit all over the floor. People who puke all over are not welcome. It’s not just me. It’s the other riders who, for some odd reason, hate to ‘share’ other rider’s……….stuff! And as to the flossing on the bus, as pointed out, there are worse habits!



     What? I CAN hear you! At least until I go deaf or a vessel bursts inside of my throbbing head! I pity the poor person who can not control the bellowing child. After all, the child weighs half or less than the caregiver and they are generally many years younger than the caregiver. They are supposed to have a much more developed mind than that of the child. What I feel sorry about is that the child has that caregiver so buffaloed and confused that they think the only answer is letting the child express themselves in the only way they know how to behave. Throw a fit. My wife and I have raised six children and know different. That story is for another time.  Please control the children who are under your care for the sake and sanity of the driver and those around you.  children are cute.  Brats are not!



     This one is a safety issue to not only the children but to other riders. When a bus has to make a sudden stop, whether expected or completely by surprise, that small child becomes a human cannon ball. At the least, the child takes the risk of a fall. At the most, the child ends up scooting, rolling, tumbling, flying down the aisle. Upon coming in contact with something in the path of the child’s centrifugal forward momentum, injury happens a lot more frequently and the results are not very nice to the child. Cute little Sammy or Suzy who were standing up when they should have been sitting down are not so cute when they are scraped up, bleeding and screaming their head off. Please teach your little ones to sit down and stay seated until the bus is completely stopped, not just for their safety but the safety and well-being of everyone else on the bus, driver included.

     The above, my friend, are the CONCLUSIONS of the matter of riding a bus.  Happy rides to you!


     This is my friend.  He is everyone’s friend.  He rides my bus and he chose to be my friend.  He’s a nice guy but I don’t know his name.  I think he tried to tell me once but I never got it for sure.

      I came to the CONCLUSION that I would just call him Candy Man!  Every day Candy Man boarded my bus, he gave me at least as much candy as shown below.  Sometimes he gave me more than what’s shown below.   There were even times when Candy Man gave me some more candy when he de-boarded my bus.  Other fellow riders benefited from Candy Man’s generosity as well because he gave them handfuls of candy.  Candy man just liked giving candy to people.  

     Just for safety’s sake, I had to scientifically determine that what Candy Man gave me actually was safe.  The most scientific way I knew of was to eat some of it.  When it rendered no ill effects, I figured  that he was not trying to poison me or that he had not given me some cutely wrapped ex-lax, so I obliged to his daily acts of dental destructive kindnesses.

     One day as Candy Man boarded my bus, he blessed me with some breath mints.  Was he hinting for an early drop off bus stop or was Candy Man just hinting?  I’ll never know.  He didn’t speak very good English and I didn’t understand very good..his language.  Besides, I ended up changing routes and haven’t seen Candy Man since.  With Candy Man gone, there is going to be a certain void to fill.  My dentist calls it a ‘cavity’!  Now, ain’t that sweet!


     When I first met my (future) wife around 1977, I drove a 1976 Monte Carlo, much like the one below only different!  Mine was white with the black vinyl top.  And maybe not quite as shiny.  It also had magnesium wheels.

1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo picture, exterior

     After we were married for a while, we sold the Monte Carlo and our major source of transportation was a 1946 Chevy pickup, much like the one below, only different!

     Mine 1946 Chevy was not shiny but was rust and white colored.  The white color had been painted over the original  dark green color as was evident by the paint still on the engine’s firewall.  The rust was not actually a paint color but was the color of oxidized metal or car cancer. 

     Anyhow, a friend of mine had installed a 1969 Chevy Impala, automatic engine in place of the old engine which had ‘died’.  It died when a piston went through the wall of the engine which has the same effect as a bullet through the heart!  The friend did a ‘transplant’ for me with much metallic surgery. 

     After work one afternoon, I drove my potential wife to the place of my chosing where I was going to have a serious talk with her.  Living in western Nebraska, my choice location just happened to be an old abandoned sugar beet pulp pit.  This pit was an eight sided ‘pit’ which looked much like a football stadium in shape.  Though it was large, it was nowhere near as large as a true stadium.  Its sloping cement walls looked as if they could have once held bleachers for fans to sit in.  Over the years, one of the walls of the pit had crumbled which made it easier for us to climb up and over.  Once we were  inside, we would be completely out of sight of everyone which meant that we would have the whole place to ourselves.  Though we were alone, it was clear that in previous years, we had not been the only ones to have visited the place.  Others ‘visitors’ had used the pit as a dump site but I, in my romantic quest, played all of it into my plan. 
     Ideally, I would have taken my sweetheart into the mountains or at least used them as a backdrop, with a stream gently cascading at our feet.  But, having no mountains closer than 100 miles away and the Platte River about three miles away, I adapted things in my own way.  We walked, arm in arm over to an old, rusting wash machine which was resting on its side.  I asked my Love to have a seat because I had something to ‘talk’ about.  She cautiously obliged and I began my un-rehearsed speel.
     “Pretend this washing machine is a huge rock.  See the dry, dirt-clogged gutter where juice from the beet pulp used to drain into?  Pretend it is actually a beautiful stream flowing down from the mountains all around us”.
     Not quite seeing the same picture I was giving, “What mountains”? she asked.
    I pointed to the edges of the pit which were maybe twenty feet high and said, “Those mountains”. 
     Eventually, she humored me although I’m sure she still didn’t see the same romantic setting I was laying out for her.
     I continued.  “Those weeds over there are rose bushes, for pretends and the sounds of the (nearby, still functioning) sugar factory are little birdies singing at the top of their little birdie lungs.  Okay?”
     Before she had a chance to question my wild imaginations any further, I decided I better get down to the business I had brought her to the pit for in the first place.  I got down on one knee in the dirt, took her hand and asked her if she would marry me.  How she could she resist my plea amongst such a romantic atmosphere was beyond me!  At that point, it didn’t matter whether she saw the same scene I was seeing.  The important thing was that she did not resist or refuse but accepted my offer and we sealed it with one of many thousands of kisses before and since then.  I don’t mean one of thousands of pulp pit kisses!  From there on out, we still haven’t lost the feeling of true love, going on 33 years now.  I have come to the CONCLUSION that perhaps there are more romantic places than where I took my gal.  If some guy ever wants to take one of my daughters down to the pit, I better be going along.  You know, as part of the pretty scenery!


     Romance, rats and shoelaces hardly are kissing cousins when it comes to being related to each other yet, somehow I managed to lump the three together!  It all was so innocent and began when I had just cleaned up from a hard days work and was sitting on the couch with the love of my wife for eighteen years, my wife.  She was looking lovely as ever.  It was early in the evening and we were leisurely sitting in front of the flickering glow of the TV set.  Although we were all alone on the couch, we were not at all, all alone.  Strategically seated around the room were all six of our children, each one in their personal favorite spot.  With that setting, I could tell that romance for the evening was going to be tough but still, I was going to try.  I was not embarrassed to show romance to my wife in front of the kids.  They had seen us smooch and snuggle too many times to count and each of those countless times were enough to gross them out.  They freely showed true feelings by their reactions of gagging or complaining or both simultaneously.  With those visions vaguely on the back of my mind, I leaned close to my wife’s ear and whispered these six little words;

     “Sweet nothings.  Sweet nothings.  Sweet nothings.”

     I was whispering sweet nothings into her ear.  In between crunches of the corn chips she was munching on, her response to my romantic gesture was, “What”?

     I tried to tell her to hush because I didn’t want it to be obvious to the kids that I was trying to work my romantic magic.  After all, any couple that was near the forty-year old mark should not be romantic, at least according to them.  Their biggest nightmare was to see their own parents being romantic!  How terrible could that be? 

     Looking around, I noticed that not a kid had seemed to have noticed nor had any one of them lost their focus on whatever it was they were doing at the time.  That gave me reason to be encouraged enough to try it again.  Once more, I whispered the same six words.

     “Sweet nothings.  Sweet nothings.  Sweet nothings.”

     Ah, but the second time, her response was different.  She turned to me and repeated what she had heard.

     “Sweena, sweena, sweena?  Who’s Sweena”? she asked as she took  another corn chip and put it in her mouth.

     Instantly, I began to question the futility of the situation but decided it was time for me to step things up and take desperate measures.  Taking her face in my hands I kissed her long and deep.  Then I said the next six little words that popped into my head.

     “You smell like a rat, Dear”!

     What I said and what I meant were two entirely different things!  Of course, after my bold statement, it was at that exact moment that the radar of each kid came on.  Normally, anytime an adult spoke, their radar was turned off.  Not then.  It was up and running.  Full blast!

     Glancing over his shoulder, my sixteen year old son said, “That really sets the mood for romance, Dad!”

     Our fourteen year old daughter then said, “Smooth move, Dad”!

     Of course, her comment was followed by, “Way to go, Dad” from my eleven year old son. 

     His seven-year old brother chimed in and said, “”Awe ver!  Dad said Mom is a rat”!

     Not to be outdone, our four-year old daughter said, “Dad!”

     And last but not entirely least, our eight month old baby girl had to get her two cents worth in.  For some reason, she simply started to cry.  

     It was at that precise moment that the whole ball of wax of romance, rats and shoelaces came together.  All I was trying to do was to be a little romantic but when I mixed in the part about the rat, the shoelaces naturally had to follow! 

     My wife looked long and hard at me then spoke her feelings on what I had just said, thus, the introduction of the shoelaces.

     “You just stuck your foot into your mouth, Mister”!

     Quickly, I tried to cover my verbal tracks by saying, “I mean, your breath smells like a rat.” 

     Wrong line number two!

     Glaring in my general direction, she continued by saying, “You just stuck your other foot into your mouth, Buster”.

     I could see the ice beginning to form over any romantic attempt I was going to put forth from there on.  And yet again, I tried to come to my own rescue.

     “It doesn’t smell like a rat all the time”.

     “You just swallowed both feet, clear up to the laces of knee-high army boots!  Thanks a lot, Dear!”

     With that said, I knew I had just put a polar icecap on my own iceage which was going to last a very long time, especially if I didn’t stop before I got any further behind.

     By that time, none of the kids had any idea of what was on the TV nor did they didn’t care.  As it turned out, I was more entertaining than anything they could ever think about viewing on the TV! 

     Looking back on it so many years later, I still ask, “How was I to know that one little ‘rat’ comment could cause such a big stink”? 

     All I could do that night was to head off to bed, pull the covers over my head and wait for the thaw.  One CONCLUSION I have learned from all I had  been through was this:  Corn chips, when eaten, will always smell like a rat!   And whatever a husband may do, he must never tell his wife what her breath smells like!  Never!

     PS:  This is another one of the stories I wrote about 1996.  As said before, since that time, I have discovered white, unlined and uncolored paper; pencils and erasure for rough draft sketches and colored pencils to add color to my sketches.  Has my artistry improved?  Probably not but I still love giving it a try.  Hope you liked what you just read.


     One day, I took it upon myself to do something really nice for my beloved wife.  I was carrying on a tradition I had been doing for a long time.  Years earlier, I heard a radio broadcast from Paul Harvey’s, The Rest Of The Story about a man who had bought roses for his wife every day for something like fifty years.  It sounded like a good, romantic idea so I began  my own tradition.  Every payday, I would buy my wife flowers, well, one flower and take it home to her.  When I first began this tradition, I had also used roses as my flower of choice.  A single rose for my love.  Nothing was too good for her!  She loved the roses and I loved giving them to her but there were one or two flaws with roses.  One, roses had thorns.  Two, roses were quite expensive and their cost could fluctuate greatly from one week to the next, especially around the holidays.  It wasn’t like my wife was not worth the cost of a single rose every two weeks because she was.  Rather than look on the cost of flowers as an expense, I looked upon the price as an investment.  I was practically a banker with my investment way of thinking!What played into my second choice of flowers were reasons three, four and five.  Carnations were less expensive.  Even during times of special occasions, their prices didn’t fluctuate from season to season.  At the original time of this writing in 1996, a buck a piece was the norm.  

     Another thing about carnations that made me make them our flower of choice was that they lasted longer than one week.  Some, if they were completely fresh when I bought them could last from one payday until the next. 

     And lastly but most important was the fact that my wife really did love to receive carnations more than she did roses.  Ah, what sweet luck. 

     The particular payday I referenced in the beginning was like many of the other 364 days in Portland, Oregon.  It was raining and though it was, the rain was not the problem I am endeavoring to explain. 

     On my way home, I had parked about a block from my flower shop and was walking back to my car in the rain, holding a fresh, white carnation in my hand.  Having become a regular, my florist had wrapped my flower in a funnel-shaped tube of colored paper.  She had also tied a pretty ribbon around it making it look quite impressive for a dollar. 

     I was feeling pretty good about myself because I just knew that when my wife got her flower, her eyes would light up.  Perhaps, her eyes would then cloud over with tears as they had in times past.  After presenting her with such a beautiful flower, I would say those three little words she had become so used to hearing.

     “What’s for dinner”?

     Her response would be something like:  “What?  No, ‘Honey, I’m home, how was your day’?  No, ‘I love you Dear’, it’s good to see you?  Not even a kiss?” 

     Of course, after that, I did only what I thought was proper and right.  I repeated, “Honey, I’m home.  How was your day?  I love you Dear.  It’s good to see you”.

     With that being taken care of, I followed it all up with a kiss.  My wife’s response to what I had just done was, “Do you really mean it or are you just saying those things because I just said them”?

     “Yes to both questions.”

     That’s pretty much how it went that night.  I announced my arrival by asking for dinner, she asked her questions and I gave her the responses she wanted me to say.  Before she had a chance to say more, I quickly asked, “Do you like your flower?”

     She had told me before how much she loved getting a flower each payday.  Sadly, for me that evening, I really didn’t have a flower to offer her.   Things had changed in between the time I had purchased her flower and my walk in the rain back to my car.  As it turned out, just before I got to my car, I was trying my hardest to avoid all of the puddles and keep from getting drenched.  It wasn’t working because I was getting soaked through and through.  With my car was in sight, I just happened to glance to my left and noticed a man sitting on the low brick wall of a flowerbed in front of a bank.  Looking closer as I hurried past him, I could see that the man was not just any man.  He was a homeless man.  A street person.  Some might even call him a bum.  He was someone who slept out in the open and rummaged through dumpsters in allies, looking for pop cans and any other useful items he could fill his empty shopping cart with. 

     As I walked past him, I was truly grateful that it wasn’t me sitting in the rain.  I was blessed with a job and a home to go to at nights.  I was also blessed with a car.  I was thankful I wasn’t living off of the streets like he was.  I was glad I could afford such luxuries as the white carnation I had just purchased for my wife.  Closing the door of my car, suddenly, I had a twinge of conscience  which quickly erupted into a full-fledged attack of guilt.  There, in the rain, sat a man holding on to an empty shopping cart, save for a coffee mug in the bottom.  He just sat there in the rain, watching people go by on the busy street.  Very few of them even noticed him and those who did, hurried on past him before he had a chance to ask them for something.  He was bothering no one because he was asking for nothing.  All he was doing was watching.  I just sat there, out of the rain in my nice, warm car watching him in my mirror as he watched what was going on around him. 

     It was then that I began to notice a few more details about this man.  I could see that he wore a red baseball cap with the brim turned off to the right.  It was perched crookedly on his head with a mess of unkempt hair spilling out from under it.  The side of the cap, which had become the front, had a big patch of grey duct tape on it.  On the tape was what I presumed was his name.  It said, “Old Stu”. 

     Finally, after several tense moments, I could not take it anymore.  I was going to leave the security of my car and approach the man.  Just before I got out, I came up with a plan of what I was going to do once I actually made contact with him.  I grabbed my wife’s carnation and headed in his direction.  He saw my approach but did not move.  He just sat there as the rain continued to come down.  I held out the flower and awkwardly said, “Here, this is for you”.  Then I quickly asked, “Want a carnation?”

     He smiled slightly.  I got a better view of him as we stared silently at each other for what seemed like an awfully long time.  He looked a bit ragged as he was sporting what must have been a week or more of facial stubble.  I could not help but notice that he was missing most of his teeth which caused his face to cave in around his hollow mouth.  When he spoke, his words came out slightly mush-mouthed and was a little hard to understand.

     “A pflower pfor me?” he asked 

     Though he identified that the ‘pflower’ I was holding out at arm’s length was for him, he made no move to take it from me.  Not knowing what else I could do or what I should say next, I stuck the point of the funnel-shaped flower paper in a coffee mug that was sitting in the bottom of his shopping cart.  It then fell over and leaned against the side of the cart. 

     I had accomplished what I had intended to accomplish.  As I turned to go, again, he smiled only slightly and said “Pfank you.”

     I nodded as I walked away and was suddenly feeling pretty good about myself and my selflessness as I got back into my car.  I had done something special, for a total stranger, who appeared to be living off of the streets in the inclement weather.  I was trying to not get too puffed up with myself although I was pretty proud of myself for what I had just done.  I had never done anything like that before.

     The whole way home, I kept thinking of my wife’s response when I shared with her the hospitality I had shown to Old Stu.  Surely, she would be pleased and I would be recognized as somewhat of a hero.  She would practically fall down at my humble feet in adoration of my thoughtfulness to a perfect stranger! I was going to be her Knight in shinning armour.  Her beloved husband!  Her Prince!  Her everything!  I tried to not dwell on how just how great I really was!  There was no one else like me!

     Once I got home, I was almost bursting with a desire to tell my wife of my good deed but I decided to contain myself.  I wanted the moment to be just right, the mood to be perfect.  All of the kids needed to be present, just in case they felt the necessity to add to the admiration that I soon would be getting from my wife!

     Finally, the proper time came while we were all seated at the supper table.  I hushed all conversation and eliminated all distractions.  All eyes were on me.  clearing my throat, I said to my wife, “I guess you have noticed that I didn’t bring you your usual carnation”. 

     I was going to draw the occasion out, play out enough line, set the hook deep in all of their hearts then reel in their emotional affections!  That was my plan alright. 

     “Didn’t you get paid today”? my wife innocently asked.  I answered her that I had indeed, to which she followed up with another question.

     “You just forgot to buy my flower, didn’t you?  That’s alright.  You don’t have to get me a flower.”

     My plan was going to be harder to carry out than I had initially thought.  It was getting hard to tell just who was fishing who.

     “Well, no I didn’t forget to buy your flower”I said.  “As a matter of fact, I did buy your flower.”

     Her response was, “I thought you said you didn’t buy me a flower”.

     “I never said I did not buy you a flower.  What I said was that you may have noticed that you didn’t get your flower”.

     I went on to explain my act of unmatched kindness in as much detail and with as much enthusiasm as I  could as my wife and kids looked on with awe!

     “I did buy you a flower but I gave it to someone else” I announced cheerfully.  With the attention of the whole family, I had them all right where I wanted them.  And yet, the expressions on their faces began to worry me.  It was like a silent look of unspoken accusation so I continued on with my explanation.

     “I gave your flower to an old man”! I said proudly, perhaps puffing my chest out just a bit.

     “You what”? she asked in surprise, not batting an eyelid.  In fact, if I had not known better, I would have said that her eyes bugged out…..just a bit.

     Still, I felt like I had finally hooked her and I slowly began to reel her in. 

     Smiling, I said, “I gave your flower to an old man sitting on a wall by the bank”.

     “You gave my flower to a bum”? my wife asked. 

      At last, she was getting the picture!  I found myself fighting hard to not radiate in my humble act of earlier kindness but evidently, for my wife’s sake, I still had a bit more explaining to do.  No problem!  I would just give her the facts.

     “He wasn’t a bum.  He was a street person”!

     “He was a homeless bum!  You gave my flower away to a nameless, homeless bum”! 

     She sounded a little bit irritated.  Things were not going exactly the way I had pictured that they would go but I thought I could still save face.

     “He wasn’t nameless.  His cap said, ‘Old Stu’ on it.

     “Old Stew”? she asked.  “You gave my flower to an old, stewed, homeless bum”?

     It’s not that my wife is a card-carrying, nameless bum hater or anything like that.  Quite the opposite.  She is a loving, caring, generous individual who would do just about anything for anybody.  Perhaps, I had crossed a fine line in giving her flower, (my small token of my undying love to her) to a….to Old Stu.  Just perhaps!

     It was somewhere around that point in the conversation that the more I tried to back pedal, the deeper in I got.  From there on out, each little detail I added only made matters worse.  The hole I was digging seemed to be turning into a deep grave that threatened to cave in on me at any second.  Finally, I just gave up when some of the kids chanted, “You gave moms flower to a drunk!”  “You gave moms flower to a complete stranger!”  “You gave moms flower away!”

     Needless to say, I had not earned any brownie points with my wife and the whole flower issue like I generally did ever pay-day!  Instead of feeling like I was floating on cloud nine, I felt like I was in the middle of a big black rain cloud of guilt.  All that was missing under my storm cloud was Old Stu!  The rest of the evening only went downhill from there!

     The next day, the guilt cloud followed me all day long until after work, on my way home, I went back to my flower shop.  That time, I didn’t stop with just one single carnation.  No siree!  Instead, I bought two carnations to replace the one I had sacrifically given away the night before.  Walking back to the car, I was relieved that Old Stu was not sitting on the wall where he had been seated the night before.  Good!  I wouldn’t feel compelled to give him half of my wife’s flowers!

     On my own initative, when I got home, I walked in the door, kissed my wife, asked her how her day went, told her I loved her and handed her two neatly wrapped white carnations! Her eyes clouded over and I was where I should have been the night before if it had not been for some random act of kindness to one named Old Stu. 

     Looking back on it all now, I have come to the CONCLUSION that the whole experience could have left me feeling really bummed!