This morning I took the 8:54 66 bus into the city. My driver was Friendly, Professional Dreadlocks Guy (not to be confused with Silent Dreadlocks Guy, who is a contestant for Worst DeCamp Driver Ever). The bus was right on time. FPDG took my ticket with a warm "good morning." He drove expeditiously yet carefully, pulling into the Port Authority at exactly 9:28. As we approached the end of the tunnel, he informed us in a soothing tone -- so as not to rouse those of his charges savoring the last moments of their slumber? -- that we would soon be arriving at our destination. Finally, he wished us all good day.
O, DeCamp! Would that all your drivers were as capable, as caring as Friendly, Professional Dreadlocks Guy!
Everything about Port Authority is kind of half-assed. I look at the architecture, the lighting, the brown/beige/rust/ochre color scheme, the retail tenants, the sad attempts to brand the terminal a shopping, dining, and entertainment destination -- whatever -- and I see indifference. Nothing seems to have been thought out with an eye toward making the experience pleasant, useful, or even bearable. You walk through the doors and immediately can't wait to leave.
And then there's this guy.
You must have to get some sort of permit to perform in the middle of the Port Authority, right? So incredibly -- or, in keeping with today's theme, absolutely predictably -- this is who the powers-that-be have decided should provide the evening-rush entertainment. How to describe his musical stylings? Imagine that Chic hooked up with Phish and gave birth to a disco-funk jam band. Now imagine that band's cover band, and you'll start to get the idea.
Are we looking at the future of the Port Authority?
The Times has an article on its website describing the efforts of three architectural firms competing to design an office tower on top of the bus terminal. Personally, I prefer the one in the middle, from Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners. Not because it is a "striking...constructivist assemblage," as the Times calls it, but because it is kind of chunky and dumpy and says "bus travel" to me.
Is the one on the right a joke? The Times cites the design, from Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects, for its "suavity and lucidity" -- marking the first and last time those words and "bus station" will ever appear in the same place. To me, it looks like someplace I might go to get cloned in the year 2062.
It rained some this morning, which of course created total chaos in DeCamp's morning schedule. My 9:14 bus arrived about a half-hour late. (There were empty seats, however -- an increasingly rare treat in the mornings.) Here is what one rider had to say, via Clever Commute:
Now up to 50 minutes of waiting at bellevue....huge line of angry and wet commuters....one bus came but couldn't even take standees. This sucks.
Speaking of Clever Commute: hats off to them for providing a simple, useful service that DeCamp itself should be delivering with its still-mythical mobile alert service but does not.
If you haven't already signed up, you can also get Clever Commute alerts by RSS feed on Baristanet. Learn more here.
This post doesn't have anything to do with DeCamp, except inasmuch as its subjects are incompetence and driving. But here goes...
On Saturday I took my two-year-old daughter to the Walnut Street farmers' market. When I was easing out of my parking spot to leave, a guy going about 50 down Walnut Street pulled right up to my rear bumper and leaned on his horn. Apparently he has yet to learn that his car comes with features designed to counteract the forces of gravity and that moving downhill does not have to mean an inexorable gathering of deadly momentum. I rolled down my window to look back at the guy and let him know I wasn't happy. "Back the fuck off," I said, or words to that effect. A mistake, I know. Impolite? Yes. But it was an involuntary reaction to a moron who was putting me and my daughter in danger, and I don't think I was acting beyond my rights.
He followed me -- as was his right -- tailgating me for a block or two. At a stop sign, he pulled up next to me, rolled down his window, and started shouting at me. "You feeling tough today?" he said. He looked to be in his late 20s. He was huge, his beefy arms having torn through his t-shirt in just the last 60 seconds, Bruce Banner style, leaving it ragged and sleeveless. Or so it seemed. He looked as if he did his grocery shopping at GNC.
"No, I'm not feeling tough today," I said, not nervously, but not with the menace I would have liked, either. "But why were you honking at me? You don't need to honk at me."
"I said, are you feeling tough today? Then get back in your car and drive, you fucking faggot."
It seemed unnecessary to point out to him that I was already in my car. I had never left it. Anyway, I turned, and he sped off in the other direction, before we could converse further.
It's not a fresh insight or anything -- indeed, the Montclair Times ran an editorial about it just last week -- but defensive driving is the exception in Montclair and environs,
aggressive driving the rule. People routinely speed and seem put out by
-- angered by -- things like stoplights, pedestrians, and other cars.
I'm always amazed to hear about people failing their driving tests, because apparently the DMV will hand out a license to any subliterate cretin who shows up to collect one.
It's two months and counting, and still no sign of DeCamp's email newsletter.
I signed up to receive the newsletter in mid-May, after seeing it touted on the company's redesigned website. I wasn't expecting much, so I guess you could say my expectations have been met. In the meantime, who knows what Eastern European porn sites and purveyors of herbal Viagra are now in possession of my email address.
It's striking how completely DeCamp does not understand that every expression of who they are -- from the ridiculously worded announcements they tape to the windows of their buses, to their absurd ticketing system, to the sociopathic behavior of their drivers -- affects how people view them as a company.
Their attitude toward digital communications in general seems to be that it's pretend, that it doesn't really count. But it's 2008, not 1995. When you offer a service on your website, you should be prepared to actually provide it. It's called a value exchange, and it's one of the foundations of doing business in a capitalist society, which, unfortunately for DeCamp, we happen to live in.
I was shocked -- shocked! -- to read this email from a DeCamp rider (and not just because of the poor spelling, punctuation, and grammar), circulated today via Clever Commute:
It's understandable that there is no cell phone use policy while
riding the buses, but there should be a no driver/patron talking policy too.
840 am 66 from the YMCA driver has not shut up yet and patron doesn't exactly
have a quite voice. Everytime they both are on the bus together it's like