My real day job is driving a 40 foot city Transit bus. It’s a part time position. It’s a government union job which pays me benefits and a decent wage. This has enabled me to spend a lot of time practicing my crafts.
For that I shall always be grateful.
In other words it pays enough to allow me -because of the split shifts- to be home for 6 hours a day and to be able to work in my shop or on a remodel job. My hours are rush hours Monday thru Friday. I have weekends off.
This job has taught me more about woodworking than any woodworking magazine, class, home lumber yard, or book could ever teach me.
You are I can tell skeptical.
Let me try explaining.
Most of the passengers I carry are very poor. They suffer from various disabilities such as blindness, mental retardation, profound or serious life disorders. Many are simply the working homeless- because of no fault of there own.
Affordable housing is not abundant where I live.
It’s also getting worse.
I also drive thru the intercity neighborhoods. The city’s elected officials calls these “challenged areas”. The latest city term is “opportunity areas.”
Most people refer to them as the ghetto or the hood.
Also described as very dangerous by most people.
To me its simply home.
This is where my woodworking started. This is where I took my first class of woodworking applied theory 101.
Every day I see these incredible challenges these people faced. With out fan fair or any attention brought to them selves, they are waiting in the bus stop to go to a job that no one else wants or most of us wouldn’t do if we were honest with ourselves.
A grand majority of my passengers- get on board pay the fare, take a seat, and never say a word. When the time comes to get off it’s the same. They simply get off- go about there day.
Some times I have to wake them. Some times point out to them that there gun fell out of their pocket and not to forget it.
Even the gang members and I have a understanding.
The road map of my route is written all over there face. I just have to read it.
I not only have read it- I’ve studied it.
I’m I quick study.
I treat them all the same. They all get respect, a nod, a quiet thank you and no hassle.
I never question or judge.
The official company policy on fares to ride the bus is to ask once for it. They company never stated how loud I have to ask- or what language I need to ask for it in.
This comes in handy for the homeless passenger I serve.
I have a very quiet voice and speak a foreign language when I am asking for the two bucks from these passengers of mine who don’t have it. I also offer assistance in finding them a seat if they need help.
Their eyes say thank you even when the lips don’t move. It gets darn cold here in Minnesota.
Woodworking lesson learned- find a way to get it done.
I simply drive the bus. I focus on the road and look straight ahead. I don’t know where most have been in the past nor would it be of much help because we are all where we are today. I simply remind my self but for the grace of God I am driving this bus rather than catching it.
We can either move forward or fall behind and miss the bus.
I am not a social worker and can’t fix there ills.
But I won’t and don’t have to add to them either.
I do only what I can do that’s it. Its one of the many woodworking lessons they taught me. The lesson is sometimes you have to accept what your limitations are – whether it’s a time constraint, cost problem, tool issue, space problems or skill level challenge.
You do the best you can with what you have.
You just do it. You learn and you move on. You show gratitude because it could be worse.
You keep moving because the “bus of life” won’t wait for you.
Nor does it make personal house calls.
And even when you don’t want to get up the next day and go back out in the cold and go back to it again you just do it. Another woodworking lesson learned.
And ever day the lessons come, some obvious some very subtle. I just drive the bus watching and listening. Long ago one of the first lessons taught me was “its better to be silent and thought of as fool … as to open my mouth and remove all doubt”.
It took me a while to learn that one. I’m a slow learner – but I have it down pat now.
Well learned, even if from time to time I need a refresher.
I could go on and on about the many woodworking lessons I have learned and keep learning driving the bus. I won’t bore you- I have a feeling you understand.
One over all lesson if you will indulge me is – for those of us who allegedly have all of our facilities and functions -we should be so grateful- and blessed – to do as much with these gifts as we can- and less talk and excuses about why we can’t.
(Protected by copy write, all rights reserved ,D.Jerzak 3-2—2007)