Hell on Wheels

April 8, 2009

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
Baracknophobia – Obey
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Jon Stewart’s pin-point dismantling of the wackos on the far right has absolutely nothing to do with my rant about bus drivers, but it got my day off to a great start. So, uhm, there.

Now, to the topic at hand: bus drivers. We all have them. They are, mostly, pretty workmanlike. Opening and closing doors, pumping the brakes gently, stopping for pedestrians. They do honorable work.

Mine is “Sal.” That’s not his real name, but he is MY bus driver after all, so I get to name him. Sal is burly, with a graying handlebar mustache and a Yankees cap permanently affixed to his head. He always greets me with a gruff “Morning” and sends me on my way with a “Have a good day.” And I appreciate it. It’s not much, but this early in the morning anything helps.

Anyway, I’m not here to gripe about Sal. I’m here to gripe about another driver whose name I don’t know. He is a runty little man who reminds of the Wormtounge character in Lord of the Rings (geek alert! geek alert!). I first became aware of him when, as a passenger, he demanded the driver stop the bus when a gang of hooligan teens began talking trash to him. Now, I’m all for putting a boot to any hormonal douche-bags who can’t treat the rest of the passengers with a modicum of respect. But if all they’re doing to being punk-ish (and you are a veteran bus driver) then why not just get up, move to the front of the bus, and let these idiots fester in their own idiocy.

But no. Captain Pissy Pants demands that the driver stop the bus and call the police. So we sit there for 15 minutes, all of us on our way home, waiting for the cops. CPP just sat there, reading his paper while 20 pairs of eyes stared bullets. Or course, the police never show (I’m sure they had, like, real crimes to investigate). But in the meantime, all the kids who had been bugging CPP disembark. Naturally, CPP then told the driver that he could start driving again…like he was a personal valet of some sort.

The next morning Pissy Pants, again as a passenger, was on my inbound bus. Naturally he was re-telling his adventure of the previous day in gigantic arcs of run-on sentences. “Sal” said nothing. Just stared hard into the middle distance. In CPP’s version of events he could’ve taken these kids “if they’d been man enough to step off the bus.” In his version of events, these idiot kids were shadowy creatures who were no doubt armed. He was merely being a model citizen. In CPP’s version of events, he wasn’t the moron he apparently is in real life.

But it’s what came next, in full ear-shot of the entire bus (since CPP tends to yell, not talk), that really got under my saddle. He began to refer to all passengers as some sort of angry mob, worthless chattel never more than a few minutes from a mass riot. If not for he, the iron-fisted driver, there’s no telling what the streets of Portland would look like. He began to talk about refusing to pick up a rider who had a seeing-eye dog because the rider didn’t have the proper paper work or pass. And he began to refer to certain routes and the people on those routes that run through certain parts of town in derogatory tones that skirted the edge of good taste.

To his credit, “Sal” never even looked like he was listening. And as we lurched ever closer to downtown I began to fantasize (since, because of CPP’s volume I was unable to read) that he would suddenly slam on the brakes and plant Pissy Pants into the windshield.

On to the weekend:
More than 40 top breweries—mostly regional players with a few special guests—and a dozen wineries will provide abundant liquid refreshment at the 15th annual Spring Beer and Wine Fest. Reps from major beer players such as Widmer, Rogue, and Sierra Nevada will pour alongside scrappy small breweries like Ninkasi, Calapooia and the intriguingly named Panty Dropper. Remember to stretch first! [Oregon Convention Center/Noon/$5]

The film “Silent Light,” a Cannes Jury Prize winner and Mexico’s 2008 submission for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, comes to the NW Film Center. Directed by Carlos Reygadas, it tells the story of adultery and spiritual crisis in an isolated, modern-day German-Mennonite community in Northern Mexico when husband and father falls in love with another woman against the law of god. [Northwest Film Center/4 and 7 p.m./$8]

The Chairman of the Board, Dino, and Sammy are no longer with us, and your chances of getting them to show up at your next seance are not good. So it might be a smart idea to check out The Rat Pack: Live at the Sands. It’s another entry in the Fred Meyer Broadway Across America Series, one that puts incredible simulations of these legendary showmen in front of a 15-piece band to make some ring-a-ding-ding Vegas-style. [Keller Auditorium/1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m./$28.50–68.50]

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