Friday, November 20, 2009
TAKING THE BUS
I attended the first ever Netroots Minnesota convention after work today. This is a grassroots organization that is determined to bring progressive leadership back into government. I had a great time and made new friends. There was a breakout session on blogging that I attended that I found quite interesting. There was also a DFL gubernatorial candidate forum.
I'll post about the forum a bit later. First I want to tell you about my bus ride home. If I had remembered about the convention when I left for work this morning, I would have driven. Instead, I took the express bus downtown St. Paul as I usually do. After the conference it was late enough that there were no express buses. So I took the #64.
If anyone wants a real look at another world of people that you don't usually hang out with, take the bus. Not just any bus. To get this kind of education, take the #64 out of downtown St. Paul to Maplewood Mall. Or take the #10 out of downtown Minneapolis to Columbia Heights. Or take the #16 that travels between St. Paul and Minneapolis on University Avenue.
I had just missed the first #64 so had to wait at the bus stop for about twenty minutes. I waited on 6th and Minnesota. This is one of the most interesting bus stops in downtown St. Paul. There are all kinds of unique people from all levels of society who wait for their bus here. Not only at night, but also during the afternoon rush hour.
The bus finally came and up the steps I went. I like to sit on the right side about a fourth of the way back. We rolled on down the street and picked up passengers at various bus stops.
I knew there was going to be a problem when some drunk guys got on. One was old; one was young. I knew a ruckus was about to break out. When two guys, one white and old and one black and young, started shoving each other around, I had my first clue. Then some women got into it with one of the drunk guys. He attacked her with very colorful adjectives and she screamed back at him. The bus driver trucked on down the road.
This looked like a situation that could escalate to something ugly. I wondered who would do something about it. I looked around the bus and didn't see anyone who looked like a leader. Then I thought, "Wait a minute. I'm a Toastmaster Division Governor. I should do something." So I got up and faced the passengers and said, "Hey, let's all get along." They said, "Sit yo ass down, bitch!"
I don't like people telling me what to do, so I remained standing. I said, "How would all of you like to have better lives? How would you like to have a good job and be guaranteed that your kids will have a great education?"
They just looked at me with their mouths hanging open and said, "What yo talkin' bout?"
I started in on my spiel on why Minnesota is in such bad shape. I told of how there are people who have a vision for Minnesota. A vision as great as Martin Luther King had for his people.
They were listening now.
That's when I convinced them that they needed to vote and that their vote would make a difference. Some were listening avidly now. The old drunk had passed out.
I told them how they could get involved to make their communities and the entire state better. Of course I told them why they should vote for my favorite candidate. I just happened to have some campaign buttons and flyers.
I think they felt pretty good when they got off the bus. They were smiling.
By the time the bus hit North St. Paul (yes, folks, it's a long, long ride to get back to Maplewood Mall on the #64), it was fairly quiet. I couldn't help but overhear two young people directly behind me talking about Johnny Cash. What could I do but turn around and say, "Hey, are you Johnny Cash fans too?"
So the bus kept rolling and we talked about Johnny Cash, and I turned them on to Asleep at the Wheel, and about their new album with Willie Nelson called Willie and the Wheel, and they promised to go home and look them up on the web. Since they were into music (the young man had a band), I told them about my son Justin's music career and his current business called Roll Music Systems. They wrote it down.
Of course I then had to tell them why I was taking the bus home and that led to the Netroots Conference and the candidates' forum. The young man said he worked for the Republican Party, but he wasn't really a Republican. This was encouraging. His girlfriend said she was an Independent. She said she couldn't be a Republican because she believed in freedom of choice for a pregnant woman. I said "Oh, you're a Democrat then." No, she was an Independent.
I said, "Have I got a candidate for you." That's when I introduced two more people to the idea of voting for Mark Dayton.
They got off at their stop and I rolled on down the road to the Maplewood Mall Park & Ride. I scraped the frost off my car and drove on home.
Every day can be exciting. It's just a matter of turning negative situations into something positive.