Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What A Week Its Been

This week has been pretty cool ofr me. Started work this week on Monday and I was able to see the Miami Heat take a 3-1 lead in the NBA Fianls versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. Finally Lebron is going to win his first ring so the media will leave the man alone. In other news though work has been tiring this week. Its my first time working since February so getting up early has been a little challenging for me I have to get used to working again. So far we've just been learning policies and safety regulstions. The first day we watched videos all day and took quizes on those videos. Yesterday we rode bus routes all day because our trainer got sick. It was sooooooo boring man. I usually dont mind riding the bus and at first I really didnt mind since I was getting paid to do it. But after lunch I was ready to go home. Most of the drivers seem scared to drive they all drive so slow. So it just made each route seem that much longer. On top of that the buses aren't well taken care of. Most of them are older than 10-15 years. The average life for a bus is only 12 years so they should've been bought new buses. The newest ones they have were bought in 2009 but they break down more than the older ones. They are new technology hybrid buses so havent really gotten all of the bugs out of the system.
Alot of the pre-trip stuff they showed us today I didn't agree with from what I learned at MV Transportation. But I just have to get used to the way they do things over at Veolia. Just seems like they do things backwards but I'll get through it. Its better than sitting on the couch so I cant complain too much. The routes are really easy to learn though I feel like if I went out there right now I wouldnt need directions. Napa is so small and all of the routes criss-cross so its hard to get lost. To me it is anyway. I just cant wait to get behind the wheel I was anxious today just being able to do part of the pre-trip I wanted to drive. Unfortunately he wouldn't even let us turn on the bus which sucked. When you already have your Class B license its hard to sit back and wish you could do certain things but you have to wait. I just need some patience thats all.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

New Beginning

As it turns out I'm glad I took the job with Napa Vine aka Veolia Transportation. AC Transit didnt get my fingerprints back in time for me to start class today so now I have to wait until the July class. So in the meantime I'll train with Veolia and brush up on skills like my Pre Trip, my turning skills and whatever else I'm rusty at. I havent driven a bus since March when I did a road test for Reliant Travel in West Oakland so the training class will help me get back to where I was.I cant wait to start work Monday its been a long time. It'll be a 4 week class and its going to be different than the one I had with MV in February. With MV it was 40 hours of classroom and 40 of Behind the Wheel. With Veolia we will have an 8 hour class for the first day and everyday after that we will do half class in the morning and half behind the wheel. This should be fun. Way better than sitting in a room for a week. I just wonder why they still have those old GMC RTS buses which are more than 20 years old. They have a few brand new hybrid buses but other than those they have a very old fleet including some 35 ft gillig buses. I like those but they are pretty old too. Even though I look at this as a temporary job until AC calls me I still have one goal in mind. Come out of class number 1. I want to drive a bus more than anyone else so I know I'll be working harder than anyone else. But we have 2 days until class starts so I'm going to enjoy this weekend and my Fathers day. Was hoping to make the A's game tomorrow but I dont know we will see. If not I'm going to chill with my dad. He's driving the 80 for Vallejo Transit tomorrow to El Cerrito for a few hours so I'll ride with him for a little while. It's always fun riding with him we always have something to talk about.
Today I went to turn in my DMV printout to Muni so I can take the test next month so I hope I can pass that test, that is if I'm not working for AC yet. But right now those things arent important I've now switched my focus to Veolia since they hired me and I'm going to work hard for the time being. I'm probably going to be the youngest person in the class so I'm going to be underestimated like I was at MV so I'm going to show these guys how much drive I have in me. I'm kind of wishing we could skip the weekend but Monday will be here soon enough.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Slight Detour

So today I accepted a job offer with Napa Vine Transit bus company. They offered me a position on Friday but I waitied until today to accept becuase I thought AC Transit would have gotten my Livescan Fingerprints back by now. Apparently not so I chose to accept the offer from the Vine. I'm going to go along with the hiring process starting tomorrow with drug tests and a physical. The class starts on June 18th but I'm hoping that AC will get the prints back from the Department Of Justice before Friday so I can start class Friday. From th research I've done it seems delays from the DOJ are common with fingerprints when you have charges on your record or if the fingerprints werent recorded with good quality. I'm not worried about not getting into AC Transit I just want them to come back soon so I dont have to wait for the July class. I'm just going to keep the faith that I'll be in the Friday class but in the meantime I'm going to go forth with the process. Wheels Bus in Livermore also wanted to rehire me last Friday but I turned them down. I just figured with me waiting on AC Transit it'd be a waste of time and gas money for me to go to Livermore everyday knowing I'm wasting money and knowing I'm not going to be there long. Napa is closer to Vallejo so I can deal with going there for a little while. Just cant wait until I get that call so I can politely tell the people at the Vine thanks but I will be accepting an opportunity elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hungrier than Ever

Its been a while since I last posted but between working at Lucky and always having to work closing shifts I never really felt like it. 2012 has been kind of a mixed year for me. When it started I claimed this was Our Year for me and my girl. And with that I really meant it because I was motivated to leave Lucky, the place I had been working for since 2007. Working in the grocery business had gotten old to me and getting into journalism wasnt going to get me money immediately. So I chose my next best option and that was to drive a bus. It was the most realistic goal for me right now. It was something I've always wanted to do until I ran into journalism and sports in high school. Neither one of those panned out for me though because I had my daughter in my senior year of high school so when I graduated I had to look for a steady paying job.

I got my first opportunity at Wheels Bus(MV Transportation) in Livermore, Ca in January. Even though it was about an hour away I intended on using this opportunity for experience and a stepping stone to get me to the bigger companies like AC Transit and SF Muni. I was hired with 7 other people in the class. One lady quit on the first day so I was like cool one less person to compete against for seniority. Basically your seniority depends on when you graduate the training and I already thought I wasnt going to come out number one because one of my class mates had driven for SF Muni for 12 years prior. So my goal was to come out number 2 since no one else in class had driven a bus before just like me. Week number 1 was all about policies and safety so we all were on the same level no matter what.

The games began in week 2 when BTW(Behind The Wheel) Training started. I had a step above everyone though because I had started learning routes on my own time. After class I'd go to the Dublin Bart to ride the buses while everyone else went home. So when BTW started I knew routes without having to see the directions. I just needed to learn to not hit curbs and how to pull into bus stops. I learned this all in 4 days as opposed to the 5 days we were given and to my surprise I finished first even ahead of the Muni veteran. If you ask me I think she was a little upset about that but it was all about business to me even tho she had become a mentor for me in that short time.
Everything was going great I was so happy about my journey and where my career was about to go. Until about an hour after I completed the training. I walked in on my manager talking on the phone to a corporate rep. When I walked in I was smiling but he wasnt. He looked really upset and dissapointed. He says to the lady on the phone "Speaking of him he just walked in." When he said that my heart dropped because I was hoping he was referring to my trainer who accompanied me into the office. And thats when he handed me the phone. The lady asked me several questions about my criminal record. I gave her every detail I could and told her about the help I'd gotten for the mistakes. She wasnt buying it though. So after our conversation I was released from the company until I could get an expungement.
So for months I was depressed and working hard to find a job and at the same time waiting for my court date for the expungement. In a 3 months span from February to May I interviewed with around 6 employers. Only one would pass me through before my expungement and that was Sacramento Regional Transit. The others weren't trying to touch my record. This had me feeling some kind of way about that. Like man America dont give nobody second chances if you cant afford a lawyer. I thought nobody would hire me at this point. And the only reason Sacramento Regional Transit had passed me through the interview out of the others who passed on me was because they never asked me about my record. But I didnt really want to work there not to sound ungrateful. They didnt make much money for me to commute from Vallejo everyday.
Just about every day and night I prayed for better days. Even started going back to church. I needed a blessing and I felt this was the only way I'd get it. Sure enough I got my expungement and the calls started raining in. Two days after Memorial Day I got 4 calls in the same day. MV Transportation told me I was qualified to come back, Napa Vine wanted to interview me, Sac RT scheduled me a drug test and the best call came from AC Transit.
When AC Transit called me I had just gotten off the phone with MV. So after they scheduled me an interview for the next day, for that moment nothing else mattered to me. This was the company I'd set my goal to get to. This was not just a job as was MV and the other places I was contacted by but this was a career opportunity for me. AC Transit is the 3rd largest bus company in California and is one of the best in all of the nation. I was ready to tell those other places thanks but no thanks but I had to calm down a little bit. I had faith the job was mine but at the same time I had to keep all options open until it was written in stone that I was hired. I went all out for this interview. Bought a new shirt, showed up really early and I did my best to make myself stand out from anyone else they'd interviewed. The interview went great and right now I'm still in the hiring process they are just waiting for my fingerprints to come back from the livescan. S in the mean time I'm still going through with Sac RT, Soltrans in Vallejo(MV Transit) and Napa Vine. I even got another interview set up with AirBart in Oakland. The run shuttles from the Coliseum Bart and the airport parking lots to the Oakland Airport.
I have my heart set on being in the June 15 class that AC is starting and they've expressed how they really want me in there also. I dont see anything stopping me from being there so me doing all these other interviews is just me occupying my time since I'm currently unemployed. It just feels great to think I could be making $25 an hour by the time I'm 27 years old compared to just $15 if I were to have been still employed at Lucky at age 27. After I turned 22 I was kind of ashamed to have still been working at Lucky because the wages I was making and how hard I had to work for it. But I can honestly say I take pride in this. This is going to open up so many other things for me and my family in our future togther. I'm just so blessed and cant wait to see whats in store for me. Or us I should say. I feel like we've struggled so much since my daughter was born that was deserve this change. Almost every year since my daughter was born we've been climbing a hill and it feels good that we are finally reaching the top of it. My dad and my best friend have been my biggest supporters through it all I must say. We were just sitting on the couch the other day and he says to me "Son are you going to be ok making more money than me?" Before he said that I didnt realize I was going to be. But to me its not so much the money that matters. From the time I was a baby to the time I was 9 I used to ride AC Transit living in Oakland and Richmond. So it just brings back so many child hood memories when I step on an AC bus even though they dont have any of the same buses I used to ride in the 90's except the one in the picture below. They only have 5 left from the 30 they had running in '97 so I hope I get to drive one before they retire those 5. And they also changed some of the route numbers up since the time I used to ride like the old 82L we used to always ride is now the 1R and the old 72L is now the 72R. A little different from my days but still seems the same...sort of.
But with all this being said I'm going to cherish this opportunity and I'm going to be more focused than ever on making the best of it. Im hungry for this opportunity and I'm motivated. What more can I say? Twenty-Three and employed with AC Transit, I'm truely blessed