4/16.2004: #133 to White Center
The 133 showed a
powerful narcotic effect this afternoon, placing one bobbing head against
a window pane, another thrust backwards against the vinyl seatback, and
causing, though slowly as the bus lulled on, the man beside me to droop
forward, then over, nearly into my lap.
I graded papers while they
slumbered, stopping only when the head in my lap made scribbling "Great
stuff!" or "Good job!" or "Really, are you sure?" impossible. Poor baby.
3/9/2004: #20 to downtown
Feared for my life
today as La Gossipa governed the wheel while gossiping like mad with the
guy reading the paper behind her seat. Horrified. Bit
nails all morning. Should have ridden my bike.
1/06/2004: #s 20, 71, 7, 71, 20
Today was different:
snow, sliding buses, the gal with "two new knees!" (and off the crutches)
refusing at first to get on, citing slippery steps, but then getting on
anyway ... and we were off!: collectively working to steam up the windows
of this, our transport, all going off to work or school or other things
And for what? One answer:
stuck buses. This one accordioned out into a tidy L, blocking the
Ave and stacking up buses for blocks.
Later in the day, much later,
your rider, friend of buses and bus riders, I here remind you, was responsible
(yes, it was me: consider this my confession) for the L'ing of another
accordion bus: this one the 20 headed back to White Center. Well sort of.
Though I meant to help,
by telling the driver to
Don't go off into the
the snowy shipyards!
Help I did not, fore
turning meant to
And so I walked home, we
up Delridge, well ... I
Shamefaced: no friend of
buses on this day.
11/18/2003: #135 to White Center
Not being a regular
rider on the 135 out of downtown headed for White Center at 9:46 p.m.,
I was previously unaware that Dale makes a habit of getting on each workday
evening, coverall-clad ("Dale" emblazoned over his right smoker's lung),
carrying for the ride a thick paperback novel. In addition to this, I had
no idea that this novel is disposed of in a very particular way involving:
reading, sure, but more importantly fingering back through the top-right-hand
corners of the unread pages -- back back back towards the end of the book
... all the while still reading. When it comes time to turn the page for
real, this same Dale begins the careful absent-minded page turning all
over again, soiled nimble reading hands cradling the text for the evening.
5/6/2003: #71 Northbound in the Tunnel
I hate to keep insisting
on this, but something happened on the bus today. Three hoots from
a woman a few rows back and then she traveled into a seizure. The
thing is, of course, that we all know about seizures by now and what not
to do, so most of us just continued to sit there. One gal read her
horror novel with what was the same horrific attention she'd given to it
before the hoots and the seizure. Another guy scratched at his dry,
scaly forearms, making snow fall all around him, but he does this each
day at this time.
Soon the siezure stopped
and the woman came around. As we pulled away from the next stop,
she looked dazed but alert there on the bench where it was decided we'd
5/5/2003: #133 to Downtown
While one might
imagine the etiquette for such things would keep drug dealing at the bus
stop to a minimum in the early hours of the a.m.-- the five or ten minutes
leading up to the arrival of the 133 this morning proved otherwise.
Three deals went down. D1:
A tweakerish looking guy gets dropped at the bus stop, bumming a cigarette
off his father before getting out of the car. The moment he gets
the thing lit a dealer ambles up, they quarrel, then go back to the shooting
gallery behind the Laundromat. D2: Then one of the Longly Bearded
Dealers (who do those guys think they're fooling?) shows up at the stop
across the street, does a trash-can transaction, mumbling directives to
one of his cloaked cronies at the bus stop. Is no bus stop sacred?
D3: Deal three is overseen by the first dealer who's now returned (alone)
from the shooting gallery behind the Laundromat. It's an Exchange
While Walking that takes place amid the oily spots of the Texaco station.
By now, though, I'm deep
within the hold of the bus, jerked left, then forward, as the new guy,
the driver, stabs at the pedal making up time.
4/21/2003: #20 to Downtown
would suffer if I said that everyone has resilient everyday systems (RESs),
one rider this morning proved to have one-heck-of-a RES up and running
in full glory. Oh boy!
Getting on the bus, he mumbled
something to the driver about needing to find his transfer ... then once
seated, a few seats back from the front, a fat Mafioso-sized wad of used
transfers erupted from a side pocket of his cargo pants. He'd produced
a rainbow of free rides, all color-coded, each one representing a day of
"Uh huh," he announced to
nobody around him, pulling out the color of the day -- lime green -- before
neatly tucking the wad back into his pants and going up to wave it under
the nose of the driver.
When he got back the woman
in the seat behind him was giggling. "What," he said, smiling.
"You pay to ride the bus? Nuh uh. Not me. Not when I
can ride for, ow!, free."
3/17/2003: #133 to Downtown
Looking out the
right side of the bus, this morning, I continued my survey of tents and
other fragile structures lining the freeway. A tent. A tent
beneath a tarp. A tarp keeping an array of small plastic chairs dry,
as if an illegal game of mucial chairs had been busted mid song.
We drive past these structures, most of them in the woods beside the highway,
mobile we move past them all daily.
1/30/2003: #20 to Downtown
The guy in the zippy
wheel chair backs down the aisle, gals on the way to work folding up their
knees in toe-saving gestures. I can't see the guy's face -- he's
directly in front of me -- but the guy with no jacket recognizes him when
he gets on. "Hey man," says the guy with no jacket to the guy in
the chair, and they shake hands. The gal with long curly hair gets
on and recognizes the guy in the chair. She sits down near him so
they can talk. Does everyone know him? When I look up from
my book he's gone, but when I look out I see him speeding along under the
W. Seattle Bridge -- where he crosses against a red and then vanishes in
that area down near the Sundowner.
10/20/2001: #20 to West Seattle
An older skinny
rail of a guy gets on. He's wearing a bike helmet, one of those old
Styrofoam jobs, and a backpack. I look the guy over -- red, swollen
hands, dirt in the cracks of his wrinkled face, a double-d moustache --
and decide he can't be anything else but a miner. For the record,
I've just concluded that a miner got on the bus in downtown Seattle.
The bus lurches and bounces
onto the viaduct, bending and wheezing in the middle, and the miner pulls
out a hamburger. I put away my book to make sure I don't miss a single
one of the six bites it takes him to dispose of the burger. Wrapper
goes under the seat. We're getting off the viaduct now, and he's
begun to slurp at what's left of a melted Eskimo Pie. Elements of
the Pie reside in his moustache. Time still to roll a cigarette,
don't worry, as we are carried up Delridge to his final destination.
I watch as he removes his bike from the front of the bus, lights the cigarette,
and then rides off into the neon glow made by KMart.
5/15/2001: #20 to Downtwon
At its very best,
a busride can transcend mere transportation and become a sort of mobile
Such was the case this morning,
as riders sitting in the accordioning center section of the bus were treated
to idle chit chat about such things as: nipple piercing and the expected
pain therein; teenage lesbian foursomes and the accompanying Tired
Tongue Syndrome; the ins-and-outs of tattooing the intials of one's first
love on one's ankle (confirmed as NOT a good idea); and Jason (whoever
Jason is?) and his mediocre kissing skills. Outside it was beginning
to rain, gray and dark and almost Seattle again.
5/8/2001: #20 to Downtown
The guy with four
wallets (all chained together!) was on the bus this morning. Four
wallets and two fanny packs -- to be precise. When he walks, the
chain rattles some. And of course, the four wallets produce a considerable
drag on the trim of his pants.
5/1/2001: #20 to Downtown
came over the wire this morning: fare increases are coming.
It appears to have dawned on the Powers the Be that tapping people using
public transportation for a quarter a ride will manufacture $10 million
a year for the public coffers. Of course, an income tax on Washington's
richest castes could rake in many times that amount while encouraging group
commuting and discouraging the stacked-up lines of SUVs this morning's
20 spent the bulk of the ride stuck in traffic beside.
4/27/2001: #20 to Downtown
You take the same
bus each day and start to think nothing new will ever happen. Today,
however, I learned that (now get this) there is at least one bus-riding
citizen who uses triple-antibiotic ointment (!) as hand lotion. Yes,
squeezing out a large dollop of the stuff, this same bus-riding citizen
was seen smearing the stuff all over his hands. No visible cuts or
bruises or anything. Just a little dry skin.
4/25/2001: #20 to Downtown
listening device as subversive noise pollutant and agent of interpersonal/cultural
warfare proves menacing to some reading, quietly sitting riders.
4/24/2001: #20 to Downtown
Fumbling for my
pass, I saw it was her: the return of the freckled bus driver lady
-- an emotional wreck of a gal with no outlet for her emotional turmoil
other than quick and savage jabs at the gas pedal and brakes. Each
compacting crunch of the bus, each bronco-bucking bump she plowed over,
became a veritable caterwaul of freckled pain.
Beware of the freckled bus
4/23/2001: #20 to Downtown
I do not admit to
being a pro at using an amplified public address system, but one would
hope that a driver of buses might know better than to do his throat-clearing
yoga routine in close proximity to a working mike. This morning,
however, such hopes did not come true.
In other news, a man of normal
proportions sat on the steps (leading down to the rear door) for the bulk
of this morning's ride. Changing shoes? Sleeping? These
things remain unknown.
4/17/2001: #20 to Downtown
Five kids is not
only, as they say, 'a lot of mouths to feed,' but a lot of bus tokens to
shell out for -- not to mention seats to be occupying at 8:30 a.m. when
people with fewer children and more work to do are trying to get downtown.
Nonetheless, such was the predicament this morning as two parents (sic)
and their five apparent progeny, white and Whopper-fed, variously came
to occupy both aisle and seat at the rear of the 20.
"Mommy, is this downtown?"
"No Timmy. Now stop
sitting on your sister and ..."
To sum up: parents (sic)
with a week off decide, early in the week, to utilize public transportation
in the interest of an expedition out of their suburban locale and into
the sweaty alley ways and under-ventilated enclosures of Downtown.
Cooked salmon is a goal. Some shopping. This is a family of
seven, ranging in age from oh I'd say 35 to 1.5. As a group they
talk about such things as:
"Mommy, is this downtown?"
"Not yet hon'."
As the bus fills with regular,
transfer- and hangover-carrying customers, the Massive Family becomes further
crowded and mashed into their corral at the rear of the bus. Noises
of infantile sucking permeate the space.
4/16/2001: #20 to Downtown
School's back in
session, and the little ones flood the bus. A boy eating a banana
gets eyed by not one, but two other little kids. Do they want his
banana? After eating the banana, the boy dozes against his mother's
chest for the rest of the ride. She holds him, looking off at the
buildings passing by.