08
Mar
09

If Ralph Kramden had a Blog

Ralph Kramden (The Honeymooners)

Ralph Kramden (The Honeymooners)

Ralph Kramden (a fictionalized character on the classic television show “The Honeymooners“) drove a bus in Brooklyn for the Gotham Bus Company.  Wikipedia describes Ralph’s plight:

He is never seen driving a bus (except in publicity photos), but is shown multiple times at the bus depot. Ralph is frustrated by his lack of success, and often develops get-rich-quick schemes. Ralph is very short tempered, frequently resorting to insults and hollow threats. Well hidden beneath the many layers of bluster however, is a soft-hearted man who loves his wife and is devoted to his best pal.

Dan Christensen - Trimet Bus Driver

Dan Christensen - Bus Driver

Dan Christensen is a real human being who lives and drives a bus in Portland, Oregon, for the Trimet Bus Company.  He is a proud bus driver who documents his trials and tribulations driving a city bus for a living on his blog Trimet Confidential.  He humbly sums up his life in one neat paragraph:

Born and raised in Portland I have traveled across the world only to end up right back here in my home town.  I work as a bus driver for Trimet while I work on all sorts of creative projects. Right now I’m working on a graphic novel podcast.  I will let you know more when I know more.

I recently stumbled upon Dan’s blog quite by accident.  What a treasure it was to find!  I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoy this blog. Granted, the design is woefully simple and not nearly as effective as it can be. It feels and looks dated (which actually contributes to its charm more than detracts from it). It’s not on WordPress (gasp!).  Nor does it have all the bells and whistles that most blogs do like RSS subscription, social media share buttons and widgets.

But what Dan’s blog does have is heart. His blog is one big heart. His love for people, his job as a bus-driver and his love of life reaches out, grabs you and hugs you. His honesty, sincerity and the simple, straightforward way he tells stories and shares observations about his life as a bus driver makes you wish you could sit with him in a bar (a pitcher of beer and two mugs between you) and shoot-the-breeze with him until the bar closes.

He is reflective and self -deprecating.  His writing is refreshingly blunt and unapologetic (even when he is, in fact, apologizing).  For example, on March 1st, Dan wrote a post called “One Bus Driver Trying to Save the World”. He begins the lengthy post with the following confession:

First let me admit that this has been the hardest post for me to write. I fear it will upset many who read it and it’s longer than [a] country music ballad video so I think too many will just stop reading. I have no idea why this article is burning in my heart all I can say is, I have to write this. It is like a block in my soul and until I express it nothing else seems able to get past.

But Dan is also funny and is just as revealing and endearing when his humorous side takes over. In his post on March 6th called “My Ten Strange Bus Driver Factoids,” Dan’s very first factoid is a darkly deranged one that caused me to laugh out loud (and almost choke on my orange juice – thanks Dan). Here he explains his first Bus Driver Factoid:

The smell of diesel exhaust is a sweet smell to me. I know my nose is crazy but it does smell sweet. I can tell a diesel truck or car or that one has been here recently just by sniffing the air. In the morning when it’s cold they fire up all the buses in the yard to get them ready for us… It’s like an apple orchard in spring to me. I know I’m sick. If I had to commit suicide my first choice would be smothered in the breast of Selma Hayek, my second choice would be diesel exhaust in my garage…if only a bus would fit.

Hysterical!  He even offers pearls of bus driver wisdom in how to cope with difficult people (and he ought to know):

Bus drivers collect flip offs like office people collect paperclips. Usually I just laugh to my self. If people on the bus see it I announce that “If we get ten of those in a day they let us go home early.” If I have to respond here is what I do. First I make the Ozzy Osborn sign with my hand. Some people call it devil horns, I think its American sign language for love. I touch my middle finger to the tip of my nose..go on do it now…you know you want to. Then I rotate my pinky up and down like some sort of crazy pump and without removing my index finger… Yes you got it. I will usually get puzzled looks of “What ever” but it almost always turns off the anger and flips the confusion switch.

Turn off the anger and flip the confusion switch – wisdom indeed.  Of course, he reveals the secrets of bus driver culture and camaraderie:

Of all the parts of my job that I love, the most top is the Bullpen. This is the big room all the drivers gather in at the start and end of their shifts. They call it the bullpen because the bull$&@# is piled high and deep here. I think every bus yard all over the world has their version of the Bullpen and our Bullpen at Powell garage in Portland Oregon is great… Without the atmosphere of Powell and the good people I work with this job would not be worth it. I think there is little worry about that ever happening.

Even Dan’s ratings system is thoughtful and unique.  You can rate each post as: “Bacon-worthy (10) — Cheese worthy (3) Beer worthy (2) or Unworthy (0)”.  How can you not love a blog that has a rating system that includes bacon, cheese and beer?!

As I mentioned earlier, the blog isn’t the most visually appealing (and there are more than a few typo and spelling errors).  But it is forgivable because the content is so good.  It has one lonely widget suspended in empty space on the left column of the site which, ordinarily, might seem puzzlingly skimpy (why only one widget when there are hundreds out there to choose from and plenty of room on your page?).  It turns out that one lone widget is powerful and effective precisely because it is the only widget on the page and its content (a slide show of photos Dan takes driving his bus including fellow bus drivers and customers) is like the cherry on a huge piece of moist double-chocolate cake.

Dan and his blog are a throwback to the birth of the blogosphere when blogs were personal diaries from ordinary folks who just wanted to share their life experiences in the purest sense (void of any desire for web fame or huge followings or SEO gold). Their online personal journals revealed just as much about us as it revealed about them and we loved them for that.

I imagine that if Ralph Kramden were of this age, he would have a blog exactly like Dan’s (except with an added section for his harebrained, get-rich-quick schemes). I hope Dan doesn’t mind the comparison, but he is a modern-day Ralph Kramden.  For all of Ralph Kramden’s faults and dreams of success that always came crashing down from the stratosphere of his hopes to the reality of his life, we always rooted for (and empathized with) him because he loved his wife, his best friend and, yes, his blue collar job.  And even though it often frustrated him, he did his job with integrity and a genuine love for the people and the responsibility bestowed upon him.

Thank you Dan Christensen. Trimet Confidential is definitely Bacon-worthy.

You can visit Dan’s blog here and follow on Twitter here.

INSPIRATIONAL TRIVIA!

The Honeymooners only ran from October 1, 1955 to September 22, 1956?  It was the #2 show in the country (behind The Perry Como Show which reigned at #1).  The Honeymooners quickly dropped to #12 and was canceled after only 39 episodes (trounced by other more popular shows including Perry Como).  Today, if you asked ask the average 20-something year old to explain what the Perry Como Show is, you’re likely to get a blank stare for an answer.  But if you ask that same 20-something about The Honeymooners the answer will likely be detailed and at least elude to them having seen it before or telling you that it’s still on the air somewhere.  To this day, over 50 years after it was canceled, the Honeymooners is still on the air and is considered one of the quintessential examples of the classic American television comedy.

Judging by their low ratings and quick demise, you would think The Honeymooners would have disappeared into the black hole of canceled and forgotten tv shows. But, quite the contrary and against all odds, it secured a prominent (and royal) place in television history.   So remember, no matter how small your blog’s audience is (compared to the “big blogs”), your unique voice can and will make a difference to those who are touched by it. Ultimately, history will be our judge (not Google Analytics).

Here is the “original” opening credits for The Honeymooners featuring a sponsored ad!  Hats off to Jackie Gleason, the rest of the cast and bus drivers all over the world!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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10 Responses to “If Ralph Kramden had a Blog”


  1. March 8, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    Loved Dan’s blog ever since I started following his Twitter feed. Great to see him get some more recognition.

    Ben, Ben the Lawyer man from Tulsa

  2. March 8, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Rats! sorry if this is a double post. (Typing from hiking trail.)

    Loved Dan’s blog ever since finding his Twitter feed. Definitely “bacon worthy”.

    Ben, Ben the Lawyer Man from Tulsa

  3. March 8, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    I discovered Dan’s blog because for whatever reason, we bumped into each other on Twitter. I’ve passed the address round to a few friends as I think his blog is one of the fine ‘professional’ blogs, like the decent ambulance blogs or even, dare I say it, call girl ones.

    Roll on the bus driver, I say.

  4. March 9, 2009 at 4:49 am

    Yep, I found Dan on Twitter, also. Or maybe he found me, or I discovered he followed someone cool that I was following and decided he was cool, too. I like his blog! A good read!Thanks for writing about him.

  5. 5 Charlie
    March 10, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Thanks for the feedback guys! I sent Dan the review and introduced myself to him via Facebook (god, I love social media). He appreciated the feedback and that I actually “got” what he is trying to do with his blog.

    I’m going to continue to try to find examples of blogs like Dan’s (as well as other types of blogs) that, while they don’t have huge followings comparable to the big blogs, are truly gems in their own corner of the blogosphere.

  6. 6 V.E.G.
    April 15, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Jackie Gleason, best known as Ralph Kramden is related to the man with the highest rank in United States Military History, General of the Armies of United States, George Washington!
    Explanation:
    Frances (Jane) DYMOKE
    Mildred WINDEBANK-(Siblings)-Helen WINDEBANK
    George READE-(1st Cousin)-Richard DENTON
    Mildred READE-(2nd Cousin)-Coertje DENTON
    Mildred WARNER-(3rd Cousin)-Simon LOSEE
    Augustine WASHINGTON-(4th Cousin)-Simon LOSEE
    George WASHINGTON-(5th Cousin) Sarah LOSEE
    Descendants of Sarah Losee (George Washington’s fifth cousin)
    Antje VAN NOSTRAND
    Daniel RIDER
    Letitia Ann RIDER
    Sarah Jane FOWLER
    Herbert John GLEASON
    Herbert John “Jackie” GLEASON

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