Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Season's Greetings from the 22

It's dark when I board the bus now, which is not the reason our over-active snorer is sleeping. Tho I've seen him fidget to no end, I've never actually seen him awake, even when it's light out. Last time he was on the bus, he was snoring front and center for all to witness. I saw the little, old lady sitting behind him tap the stranger next to her and ask, "When you exit will you tell the driver this man is asleep and he might miss his stop?" Nice that some people care...or perhaps she just wanted him off the bus sooner. Today I only notice he's on the bus after an exceptionally loud snort comes from my rear periphery. I turn just in time to see him recover with half-awake eyes (he must've startled himself), and doze right back into a slumber. Moments later a young guy walks on the bus, and after a bit turns to me and asks, "Is this the 21 or 54?" How do you miss that, I wonder? To top off this evening's commute, I hear a nice exchange between two people in the back; one who shares her favorite thing about the holiday season: "I love egg nog. I could drink egg nog every day of my life. Man, I could really use some weed right now." Just warm and fuzzy, like a Hallmark moment.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm thankful for the memories.

I think it's time to give a shout out to my former afternoon bus driver, who gave me some of my best bus material which I have not yet published. Kelly has heard the stories in person, and occasionally asks, "Have you blogged about her yet?" Really that just tells me he's not reading my blog on a regular basis -- thanks babe. Anyway, here goes: The first time I walked on the afternoon 22, I got the sense my bus driver hated everyone on her bus at the moment, including me. She looked at me with careless eyes and gave off a distinct impression that you do NOT mess with her, or her 3-inch claws might come out. (I'm not kidding about the fingernails.) I wasn't super intimidated by her, but I did squeak out a "Hi" with a hesitant smile to go with. A few more weeks of that and finally I got a "Hi, howyadoin'" in return. We bonded.... One afternoon not long after, the bus pulled over to pick me up and not a single person was in it. Truly a strange sight on the 22. I walked on and before I could even say "Hi" bus driver goes, "Must be your lucky day." I replied, "Must be. How'd this happen?" Not really expecting a response, she continued speaking with a thick drawl: "Weeell. It's been a straaange day. First I had to kick some kids off the bus because they was graffiti-ing in the back. Then I had to kick some old man off the bus because he was drinkin' beer like it was Pepsi!!" This was the most I had ever heard her speak and I was humored by all the attitude spilling out. "People just crazy today, I tell you what." My lone ridership lasted just one stop that day, but the stories about my first afternoon bus driver go a little further. To be continued...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stick to the Bus

I drove to work this morning. I got out of my car and the world welcomed me with a loud hissing sound. My front tire was leaking, and fast! (Thanks to the one sharp rock in the gravel parking lot.) Fortunately Firestone is just a couple blocks away so I made a snap decision to drive there while I still had air in my tire. By the time I got there, it was dead flat. Strangely enough, the last time I drove my car into work, my car battery died and I had to get a jump before heading home. I'm starting to think the bus gods are sending me a message -- stick to the bus. I hate to admit I wish I rode the 22 today.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bus Time Blues

I'm so annoyed today. I'm annoyed that I'm off my game after a week of driving in, and dreading my bus ride more than usual. I'm annoyed that I walked out to my bus stop at 4 p.m., in the dark. (Does Daylight Saving Time really have to end?) I'm annoyed for the man that keeps twitching in front of me. I'm not annoyed at him; I'm sympathetic that he so obviously has a mild case of Tourettes. He keeps popping his jaw and occasionally cocks his head to the side in one big twitch. He covers his mouth when he has to blurt out a sound, and it happens more frequently when he becomes irritated that the bus is not moving. I'm with you, dude! I'm irritated the bus isn't moving! I'm annoyed we've hit every single red light on our route. I'm annoyed the woman in the scooter seat takes ten minutes to parallel park her vehicle in the disabled seating section. I mean she really goes back and forth 12 times and one full circle before she gets it. I see the bus driver getting irritated now. I'm annoyed by THAT SMELL! Does it ever go away?? Can I buy the driver a few tree fresheners, maybe? Like 12 dozen, perhaps? I'm annoyed by the grown man who frequents my bus wearing belly shirts. I'm terribly annoyed that the student driver vehicle easily passes us on the freeway. Really? And I'm even more annoyed when we catch up to the student driver only to find out it's an off-duty instructor who is texting while driving -- no lie. I'm just annoyed...but I feel some relief after spouting my frustrations. *Sigh*

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Smiling All the Way to Work

My carpooler hubby Kelly is out of town so I am driving myself in to work every day this week! It is GLORIOUS, tho the bus blog may suffer a little because of it. Sorry! (Or fill in the blanks and send me your public transportation stories if you have 'em.)

Election Day

Every day my co-worker, Jenna, and I walk down to the nearest grocery store, just a few blocks from work along the route of the 22. Occasionally, we run into bus 22 patrons off the bus, like the guy who stopped a bus in the middle of the street to air punch the front windshield. A few weeks ago, we walked past a guy lying on a sidewalk bench. As we approached, he started barking and growling at us. I wasn't phased but Jenna now refuses to walk alone to the store if I'm not there to walk with her. Today is election day, and as we walk to the store, we notice someone coming toward us on a bike with a huge American flag attached to the back. As he/she gets closer (I can't tell the gender) it becomes clear the person is wearing retro pilot goggles with helmet, a feathered boa around the neck and hot pink sweatpants with a Barack Obama sign and pennants trailing in the wind. Wow. All I can say is anyone who thinks it is not okay to wear any of that in public (regardless of party affiliation), please vote today.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Ride

People dressed up on the bus today. We've got a witch, a skeleton, a thug and a woman dressed as a man. Actually...the latter two might not be costumes. There is another guy I'm not sure about. He's got a headband supporting a high hairdo, and black spectacles. I think he's supposed to be Prince but I could be wrong. I think to myself: Every day is Halloween on the 22.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Method in Fighting

Remember my post about getting in trouble? Yeah. Well, I walk on the bus today to two young teenage boys kicking each other across the aisle. One is so aggressive, I have to pause in the aisle while he stands up, reaches over to his "friend" and socks him in the shoulder. When he sits back down, then I proceed to a seat. They continue going at it. The boys are kicking each other and laughing and then one goes "Stop. I mean it, STOP!" The Ritalin-deprived kid does not appear to hear his friend's pleas and he keeps going, swapping kicks and punches. By the way, they are sitting three feet away from the same bus driver who was apparently annoyed by my measly (not to mention civil) phone conversations. Next thing I know, hyper boy takes his hand and drags it over his tongue to gather spit and he snaps his spit-laden hand at his friend! WHAT the--?? Then his friend does the same thing!!! (I'm sure I either look dumbfounded or horrified, I can't remember.) I can't even begin to explain how disgusting I find this new fighting technique. Bus driver finally turns around and says so softly that I can barely make it out: "You boys stop that." Aaaand...they don't. They smile and the fight continues, even when an elderly lady tries to get off the bus. She has to pause like I did and wait for the crazy kid to get his body out of the aisle and back in the seat. At this point, I think better they keep going. I hope they kick the spit out of each other!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Skate or bus, dude!

Today almost all of my senses are being harassed on the bus. My sight is harassed by another dose of teens wearing bad, gothic-confused fashion; my hearing is harassed by something that sounds like an annoying ring tone or video game that goes off every 2-5 minutes; my touch is harassed by the man behind me coughing in my hair, and my smell is harassed by what my smell is usually harassed by -- everything. Tho this kind of stuff which occurs regularly may contribute to my poor attitude at the bus stop, I don't think it was the main reason for my sinister behavior at the bus stop today. When I arrived at the bus stop, I wasn't there five minutes before tween rocker Rainbow Brite rolled up on a skateboard with younger brother in tow on his board. They nearly rolled right into me as they went towards the bench, but I dismissed it and casually sauntered away. This toothpick tween had an ugly scowl on her face to match her bad Pat Benatar, over-dyed hairstyle; she was sporting the skinny pants with big, bright pink Converse, and she had layered shirts with rainbow strings hanging off the back. The best was her nametag, laden with stars: Izzy. Right. So. I try to be the big person that I am, and not give a sense that I am paying any attention to these two at all, while "Izzy" is desperately trying to give a sense to anyone around that she's pretty hard core. Next thing I know, she gets back on her board and does a half-moon right around me, almost jamming into my heels this time. Then she hops up onto the abandoned "Road Work Ahead" sign that's been sitting at my bus stop for months, and I delight in the fact that she loses her balance and falls off backwards (don't worry, she caught herself...I'm not that mean). I think from embarrassment, she darts back toward her little bro and they continue skating around. Meanwhile the 128 bus is approaching, and the driver slows but doesn't begin to pull over because he knows by now I always shake my head for him to pass. Well, you wouldn't know the two kids were actually waiting for this bus because they're still skating around, but tweener must've noticed at the last second so she lunges right in front of me, saying "No wait!"...just as my head begins its first turn to the left (picture it in slow mo). At that same second, bus driver gets a slight glimpse of my half-shaken head and he puts the pedal to the medal. "F**ING A!!!!" is the next thing I hear from tween queen as she stomps her foot in disapproval. I can't help but give an evil little "not-my-problem" smirk, as she huffs away. I had a teeny tiny pinch of guilt, but then again it really wasn't my fault she was too busy falling off skateboards to notice the bus coming. And how am I to know that's the bus she needed? The guilt melts away as I think: A brat's a brat, and that's that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I got in trouble on the 22.

Normally I board the bus, find the safest-looking seat near the least scary people and I sit and zone out to the peaceful murmur of some insane person. Today I walk on the bus mid-cell phone conversation with my friend Kat and find a relatively empty section of the bus where I can talk quietly, and I do just that. During that conversation my dad phones in so I call him back immediately following and talk for a moment. Then I make one more call to my friend Jolie about an event upcoming. Well a few minutes into my third phone call, my reception dies and I lose the call. As SOON as I hang up, the bus driver gets on the loud speaker to announce (in dull, monotone voice): "Just a reminder, if you have a personal cell device please use it in a manner that is not offensive to other people on the bus." Okaaaay? Obviously intended for me since I appear to be the only one talking on my cell phone at the moment. First off, who says "personal cell device"? Really? And second, what in the world could I have said that would be more offensive than a trio of rappers on the bus or the guy who gives clear, in-depth detail about fondling his date in the hot tub, or the kid singing the new $5 Subway Sandwich jingle over and over (you know, "Five...five dollar...five dollar footloooooong!"). Or how about the silent offenders who reek like stanky armpit!? This kind of stuff frequents the bus and somehow I get an indirect lecture for having a clean, expletive-free personal cell device conversation? It doesn't seem right, esp since all that talking I was doing was in fact to someone versus some people on my bus who talk at no one.

Friday, October 10, 2008

"if they take my stapler then I'll set the building on fire..."

Anyone remember this guy from the movie "Office Space"? Yeah? Well, he walked on my bus today -- the spitting image of Milton. Possibly his long lost twin. It was a crazy close resemblance! He had the 'stache and the thick bi-focals with bug eyes, and the same tousled hairstyle. Only he was dressed in casual wear; no tie. His movement, however, was spot on. He was slightly hunched over from carrying a heavy backpack but his arms were mildly pumping at his side as walked determinedly to his seat. He seemed very focused, like the kind of guy who would be irritated if someone asked him to move seats, or if someone touched his backpack, or took his stapler.... Reminded me I need to rent this modern-day classic just for the heckuvit.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Introducing the "Mullhawk"

I was on the phone with my mom as I boarded the bus today. We were actually discussing her blog, life events, the election and about 10 min. into it she asked where I was. "On the bus, and so far, pretty normal." (Enter the man with the mullhawk.) "Well...almost normal. So close." I sort of lost my concentration during the phone conversation taking mental notes of this man for blog purposes. To explain the scene, imagine you have slightly longer than shoulder-length hair, if you don't already. Then take the top half of your hair, pull it into a rubber band on the very tip top of your head. Now, slice off that bunch of hair just above the band so your hair is now a spiked ponytail. Leave the bottom half of your hair alone. Where there is now a tiny part going around your head from the ponytail, widen it about an inch by shaving it. Leave spiked ponytail in place. Meet the mullet mohawk, or mullhawk for short. Now picture the mullhawk man in some long, leather, middle earth, Lord of the Rings style jacket and put a bull ring in his nose. He walked by me pretty fast, but I think he was wearing the boots too (see photo below for a near-exact replica, but add sleeves onto the leather jacket). I say goodbye to Mom, and suddenly notice some girl behind me saying for all to hear, "Well I'm sorry I didn't like him. I was NOT going to sleep with him, and I sure wasn't going to sleep with him once I saw him!" Good to know she stuck to her guns. She continued to argue with someone and I tuned out the rest. Two stops later, and thankfully only three stops before my exit, a crew of people loaded onto the bus. The bus is nearly full so I know I'm going to have to sit by someone. Pleeeze don't let it be the big guy who looks like he smells bad, Plleeeeeeze! So a big guy who looks like he smells bad sits down right next to me...and he does smell. Like moldy, unfiltered nicotine. I have been in close proximity to smokers; no big deal. This guy, however -- not right. I assume my usual shorter breath routine, but I am literally rubbing shoulders with this guy whose bottom half is invading my seat some. Not only that, the bus hasn't even left the stop yet! Why? Because some idiot can't find his bus ticket to pay the driver! Really??? You've been waiting at the bus stop for how long, you see the bus coming, you actually get in line to board it, and you don't think to look for your ticket before getting on? It amazes me how often this happens...people start digging for change the moment they get on the bus. But that's a whole other blog rant.... I somehow survive the next three stops without doing the all-too obvious nose in the jacket collar trick, and I exit. When I tell Kelly about the mullhawk, he asks "Was he more punk or was he redneck?" I respond "I think he was more Shire than anything."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rhymes with "At"

Just when I thought September was going to be the most normal month in the history of the 22 commute, today happened.... It began with a baby yelling "BA BAAA! BA BAAA! BA BAAA! BA BAAAAAAAA!! MAMA BA BAAAAAA!!!!..." Okaayyy, just give her the baba already. Once the child is plugged, a little peace, until three older teenage boys walk on the bus quietly chanting something. They proceed to the back and sit their sagging pants in a row. Quick pause then one starts rapping loudly, and the other two join in every other line before merging into every lyric together. I saw one lady roll her eyes and I heard an annoyed, "psshh" from the seat behind me. As for me, I did nothing but enjoy the music of the 22 that went something like this:

You know I wanna smack that; tap that
Going to attack
Don't F with da Brat
You know where I'm at

Only in my head, some homeless guy shouts "Yer on the bus; SHUT UP!" The homies exit at the next stop...just as the token drunk guy stumbles on. He sits down right in front of me. I get a gusting whiff of gin, just as he leans his head forward and stretches one hand back over his seat for stability. He is swaying somewhat and it looks as if he is dizzy. I am now torn as to whether I want the bus driver to go faster and get me off the bus quicker, or slow down so this guy doesn't ralph right in front of me. Not surprisingly, he gets off after two stops, and I'm saved. Speed up bus driver!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Times a Changing?

The bus has been eerily normal this month, hence the lack of posts. A lot of the regulars I used to see on the bus, I haven't seen for awhile. The elderly white woman who speaks in old-fashioned Korean radio, the drunken slurrer who has passed out at every other bus stop on my route, the younger gal who bobs her head as she argues with no one...nowhere to be found. What happened? Is it the under construction QFC and Whole Foods that'r changing the face of the neighborhood? The newly renovated KFC and Taco Time? (That KFC really does look sharp now.) Does it have to do with dealership row closing down? Last week I saw something I've never seen on my bus -- a yoga mat. A very healthy-looking woman got off the bus clearly ready and on her way to yoga class. She's a very different breed of commuter than I'm used to, and she was odorless too. I dunno...don't want to make any predictions but one day I may be writing about the snobbery of the 22 over its sour stench.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Protecting the Innocent

My bus pulls up to a regular stop on its route today, comes to a complete stop, and opens its doors to waiting victims of the bus. There's a man standing at the edge of the sidewalk looking like he wants to board, but when the doors open he stands in place, unmoving. So, bus driver closes door and slowly pulls away. Okay, lemme tangent real quick -- if you are waiting at a bus stop alone, the next bus that comes by, regardless of whether it's the one you want or not, is going to STOP for you because the bus driver doesn't know better. Bus drivers cannot read minds! If it is NOT the bus you need, please don't wait for the driver to pull out of traffic, stop and open its doors before you say, "No thanks." Because our big hunk of slow-moving metal now has to wait for ten cars to go by before merging back in traffic and it'll take the next five minutes to accelerate back up to speed before stopping for the next idiot who doesn't wave our bus along. WAVE the bus to go by, or shake your head noticeably. These are the appropriate forms of denying a ride on the bus if you are alone at a bus stop. We who are suffering on that bus that smells like feet don't care for the additional three minutes wasted just to get a close-up of your face, thankyouverymuch. Back to the story: Bus driver begins to pull away and I'm annoyed for reasons just explained, then suddenly it's like the man on the sidewalk snaps into consciousness and he runs after the bus, waving his hand frantically, so bus driver pulls over again. Guy gets on in a huge huff and yells, "I guess you gotta be real fast around here!" I'm thinking: Or just sober. Then he calls the bus driver an idiot, mumbles a few things and gets off the bus two stops later, but not without threatening to report the driver first. I roll my eyes, not too worried this guy even has access to a phone or Internet. But as I depart, I tell the bus driver I saw the whole thing and I would defend him if the guy complains. It's good to have friends on the inside.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Someone Who Does NOT Ride My Bus...

This post is not at all related to my bus blog, however, I just can't help taking this chunk of space to brag about my 16-year-old nephew Dan Jr. He is currently in Veracruz, Mexico pitching for the 16U National Team. Today, they play their first game against Panama. I don't even want to think how my brother, Dan Sr., is handling it. "Take a pink pill Dan, and relax." Thank goodness my dad, Grandpa, is there to help. I'm also told Dan Jr. just accepted a verbal offer for a full ride scholarship to OSU. He chose that over UCLA, Stanford, Cal State and a couple other offers, apparently. He's been scouted by colleges since he was 14, and now the pros have their eye on this kid who is 6'5" and pitches 95 mph. GO DAN! Patrons of the 22 are rooting for you!!


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bitter & Sweet

A frequent rider boards the bus again today. He walks on, sits down, pulls the cord and gets off at the very next stop, which is one block away, downhill. He does this every time. This guy is very capable of walking the 50 or so steps it would take to get to his next stop. It's not like he walked far to get to the bus stop, because I know for a fact he lives right behind it. I see him sitting on his apartment balcony, shirtless and smoking his cigarette almost every day. He is probably 100 pounds overweight, greasy hair and his belly hangs far lower than the hem of his shirt. As soon as he sits down an unpleasant odor fans in my direction, so now I'm happy he's getting off at the next stop. His stomach and his arms are covered in scabs, some larger than silver dollars. So now I'm really happy he's getting off at the next stop, and I've decided I'm no longer hungry for dinner. It could be a skin disorder, yes, and if that's the case, I feel bad, but not so bad considering he could've chosen a longer shirt. By the looks of him, lack of proper hygiene is a contributing factor.

On a lighter note, a teeny chihuaha got on the bus today for the second day in a row. The doggie owner walks on with carrier in one hand and chihuaha in the other, he sits down and dog licks his hand. He is too cute! And he looks so fragile. I think: My cat would eat this poor puppy for lunch! (I snapped a phone pic of it pretending to text, of course.)

Kitty with a chihuaha tummy ache.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Getting R.E.M. Sleep

It's hard to believe that up until now, I haven't encountered someone who snores. There have been plenty of sleepers, in fact, once I was tempted to shake an elderly man for whom I feared the worst. His head was tilted back, and his mouth wide open. He did not make a peep or a move as the bus jostled him around for 15 minutes. He was pale and old, what was I supposed to think? But as soon as the bus came to his stop, he snapped awake like he had an alarm clock in his head and walked off like nuthin' of it. I breathed a sigh of relief at that one, and then thought to myself: He's a true pro; I have so much to learn still.... Today, the snorer is already on the bus and muffling when I sit down. His head is leaned against the window (something I would never allow to happen) but he constantly shifts his body to find that comfortable position. Every half minute or so when he inhales the peak snore to grasp more oxygen, he lifts his hand to wipe the dribble of slobber from his mouth -- while asleep. He also continues to grip his grocery bag pretty good. In fact, his body movements contradict his head. It's like everything from the chin down is awake and moving but the head is knocked out cold! Just as I'm getting used to that weird scene, three teens walk on the bus, two guys and a girl that look to be high school age. They are sporting some '80s/'90s combo confused style. I'm not even sure what's trying to happen in those outfits. One guy has a mop of curly hair on his head with rolled up jeans and neon orange glasses. The other guy's got on a throwback-to-REM hat (see photo below), and the girl...oh the girl. Poor, poor girl. I just want to help her. She's got some tangled rat's nest ponytail going on, and I think it's on purpse. She's wearing denim overall shorts, rolled up, over a paper-thin white cap-sleeve tee that looks like it could use a shot of stain stick. Underneath the shirt is a black bra, reminiscent of Madonna's cone bra look. And I can see the bra because her shirt is see-thru, of course. The best part is she went for the shit-kicker boot look to go with those overall shorts, but instead of black boots you find at the army surplus store or old skool Doc Martens, she's wearing some trail trecker hiking boots...that just don't quite make the cut. I'm thinking she got Madonna and Courtney Love confused at one point, I dunno. I try to withhold my disgustedly disappointed facial expression when I glance her way -- it's hard enough being a teen.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Shop with caution.

At my bus stop this afternoon, I notice a fresh sticker on the glass. When I get closer to examine, it appears to be a person in a red jumpsuit with a sack over his head carrying an REI bag in one hand and a Nordstrom bag in the other. My phone pic comes out blurry, unfortunately.

What's the message here? Maybe...

-Jumpsuits and burlap coming this fall to retailer near you.
-Limit spending with a sack over your head.
-Shop like a scary man and salespeople will leave you be.
-Shop with a bag over your head, and you may come out wearing a red jumpsuit.

I dunno. I'm hoping for a little more insight.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Life with the Crazies on the Number 2.

Turns out, the 22 doesn't get all the crazies in town, and Katy has the story to prove it...


So earlier this week it was pouring outside and a bunch of people were huddled under the bus shelter trying to stay dry when a rather large black woman in a bright yellow shirt came strolling up. “HEY!” she shrieked to an unknowing skinny white guy watching for the bus, “Can I sit there or is this segregated seating?!?” She gestured threateningly with her umbrella at the 2-seater in the shelter. Without a word the dumbfounded man fled from the scene to get away from the loud lady making racist allegations.

She sat down. Her eyes fell upon me. “Oh, God” I thought.

“Hey! What bus are you waiting for?!?” She bellowed.

“Any bus going in that direction.” I replied and pointed.

“Well do you know when the next one comes?!?!” She inquired.

“Nope.” I replied.

Just then the number 2 drove up. I was saved! But no one else was.

“OH lucky me! That was good timing wasn’t it?!?! Even though I’m BLACK!” She spat at no one in particular.

The people around me were stifling their laughter in that ever-passive aggressive Pacific Northwest way. We formed a line (about 15 people wanted to get on the 2) but trifle things like manners and patience were not to be considered with this lady. She cut in front of everybody walked right up to the door saying “Excuse me, Pardon me.” And got on the bus. Nobody was ready to object to this blatant lack of bus etiquette because nobody was any taller than her shoulders.

Finally, all had boarded and we were on our way. The bus was full so I was standing in the aisle towards the front. I turned around to check where the crazy lady was. She was in a 2 seater facing front near the back door. Apparently the bus was too full for her. Because at the next stop when the driver let more people on she bellowed “DRIVER! There’s too many people on this bus! Stop letting them on! It’s too crowded.” He ignored her. Just then, apparently someone accidentally touched her when the bus started off again. “OW! Stop touching me! SHIT! You could at least say ‘Excuse me!’ God, you stupid BITCH!” She leaned over to the person next to her. “Do you know where I can get 3 candy bars for a dollar?” The poor lady next to her said, “Uh, I think there’s a Rite Aid at the next stop.”

So at the next stop the crazy lady stood up and said, “Excuse me, pardon me, I’m trying to get off!” Then she paused. “And I farted. That was my prerogative.” As soon as the doors closed, the entire bus erupted with laughter.

~ Katy

Thursday, August 21, 2008

At the bus stop. In the rain. In August.

Yesterday it poured. It rained so hard my cotton summer jacket was soaked through in two minutes! My evil co-workers in the building next door, Dee Dee and Donna, actually buzzed me at my desk about the time I leave just to say, "We're waiting to watch you leave." I responded, "Have you seen what it looks like outside??" "Uh huh--that's why we're waiting to watch you leave!" So I walk out and Donna is standing under the protection of their covered porch, armed with her camera to take video, and the rest can be viewed in the YouTube clip below. (The second half at the bus stop was something I recorded on my phone to text them back in their dry, cozy office.)

Wooooo!! I'm a YouTube star, finally! I'd like to thank the academy...and Dee Dee's son Ryan, who produced this clip and posted it for me. No autographs please.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The babies on the bus go Wah, wah, wah....

My good friend Emily, also a regular bus commuter tho not on the 22, ended up riding the 22 last Friday to come meet me after work. When she called to tell me she had arrived unharmed, my first question was, "How did it smell?" "Not too bad," she answered. Lucky! But she still came away with some good observations from her downtown ride, which she shares below...


What are your children doing while they’re at daycare?

Apparently cruising around downtown Seattle on the metro bus.

This past Friday I made a trip to West Seattle and being a bit of a sheltered eastside bus rider I was really looking forward to a ride on the infamous 22.

I used the metro online trip planner, found that Bus 15 turns into 22 and the trip from lower Queen Anne takes 40 minutes. Easy.

I get on the 15, and not wanting to be too cocky quickly confirm with the driver that this bus will indeed become the 22. As she starts pulling away from the curb, tells me NO (idiot!) but I can get off later and will be able to catch the 22. I take a deep breath, think to myself that’s doable and make my way down the aisle.

The bus is hot, loud and full of kids. Lots and lots of kids… in fact the ratio of kids to adults was a little concerning. Once we get into the ride free zone, “savory” riders begin to crowd on the bus. The children are piled three to a seat, the aisles are full and wack jobs are making conversation with the 3 year olds. The adults are hollering at the kids to keep their bottoms on the seats. From my expert eavesdropping, I gather this group of kids (one all the way from Bainbridge Island) are on their way back to daycare to take a nap after their big outing.

That got the wheels turning. If and when I pay the big bucks to put my kids in daycare… do I really want them riding around on the city bus? No seatbelts, a low ratio of adults, and lots of chaos. The same bus that we adults can barely handle?

I got off, waited for the 22 and close to two hours later made it safe and sound.

I’m going to revert back to living vicariously through future 22 blog posts. And on the bright side, I’m sure these children have built a lot of character—at the tender age of 3.

~ Emily

Thursday, August 14, 2008

All I want for Christmas is an oxygen mask.

Two teenagers board the bus and sit in the two-seater bench next to me. Like a gnarly twitch, the kid nearest me slaps his hand to the side of one nose nostril and begins rubbing it frantically. He is literally snorting and rubbing so hard, it looks painful! I don't have allergies, so I can't relate to the problem it might be for him, but I am pretty grossed out at this point. He continues to rub hard for a few minutes, just long enough for me to wonder if his problem is something other than an unfortunate circumstance of nature. As I begin to slow my breathing, like I normally do during stinky or germy rides, I think back to another time an oxygen mask may have come in handy. Some months ago, in the dead of winter when the weather is far too nippy to open a window (ugh) and the heat is going full blast and the smell of foul is raging, a sweet little, old lady nearly caused me to suffocate. She sat directly behind me--and started coughing. But not just any cough. A persistent cough, a chesty cough that sounded a gurgle of phlegm with every hack. Her hacks went uncovered for about 10 minutes and they were so powerful, my hair actually moved with the air she expelled from her body! What should I do? Move? And make it obvious this sickly, old lady is the reason I flee? YES! I choose LIFE! I'm turning blue from asphyxiation at this point--and I'm irritated she doesn't cover her mouth. I've got about five minutes left on the bus and I'm starting to gag a little bit. I hit the empty seat two benches behind her. I nuzzle my nose into my high-collared down coat and resume a slow draw of air into my lungs as I dream about bathing in a tub of Purell.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Standoff: Bus v. Man

Oh dear. A patron of the 22 bus found himself lost on the main road today--and he was pissed! I was NOT on the bus, but rather walking to lunch with two co-workers when we saw a man walking down the middle of a busy street, toward an intersection. (We chose the safer route and stayed on the sidewalk.) He was in a huff walking toward one of the express busses, not the 22. Maybe he was kicked off the 22, hence the reason for his aggression--who knows. We couldn't help but slow down and watch this man as he walked toward the bus with angry fingers pointing at the driver. He actually forced the bus to come to a stop but the driver was not about to open his doors for this guy. Crazy man was yelling and pointing and then he started making fists and air-punching the front window. At this point we can see the driver, unaffected, pull out a phone and make the phone call. I swear I could see the driver rolling his eyes, even from a distance: Another day, another dope head. Silly crazy man then walks to the side of the bus to apparently try to punch the door open, but the much wiser bus driver simply pulled away and left him behind. And we quickly went on our way while Jenna scolded me for not snapping a phone pic to post here. Shoot!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Litter and Laughter

I think someone dumped their cat's litter box inside my bus stop waiting area. Litter granules are strewn about and pieces of dried up poop are mixed in. I've seen the bus stop littered with cigarettes, loogie stains, McDonald's wrappers, 40 ounce beer cans, mystery styrofoam take-out boxes, and disgusting liquid substances I try not to wonder about--today, cat litter makes a showing. On the bus, I sit near a young man who appears tired and I think nothing of it. I notice he's dosing in and out of sleep for a few minutes. Then he suddenly snaps to attention and starts laughing hysterically! At what, I don't know (surprise, surprise). A minute later, he stands up like he's going to exit the bus, be he doesn't. He stands for several stops staring straight ahead, gripping the horizontal bar in front of him, periodically laughing in a milder fashion than before. I give him the benefit of the doubt: Maybe he's an intense sleep walker dreaming he's on an amusement park ride. Lucky guy. All I got was a ticket to this zoo.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Our Non-Melting Pot

The only reason I notice this next guy who gets on the bus is because he greets the bus driver in an unusually enthusiastic manner, "Good day, sir. And how are you? Looks like I owe you 75 cents more. Might I have a transfer please?" Obviously not a regular on the 22 with that kind of attitude. So I'm already scribing about my love for texting after getting my own bench on the bus, and I'm not paying too much attention to the conversation this guy has started with a lady across from him (he's sitting in priority seating, which faces the other priority bench). And then I hear this: "America is a melting pot that is NOT melting! We all speak our own language and we can't understand each other." Then he says something about how his parents grew up, one in Germany, another in England, then something about Hitler...I know I should be paying better attention at this point. But at this point, I am wishing I can't understand him. All I get after that is a bit of his opinion on how Norwegians are an extremely stubborn bunch, as he leans in and whispers it to this poor lady who is obviously annoyed by now...and needing my counsel on when to pull out the cell phone.

I Luv Text

The bus is packed today. I hate the days when I walk on the bus and every two-seater bench is already occupied by one person, therefore leaving me to decide (quickly) who is the cleanest-looking person to snuggle up with. Okay, the lady devouring her Doritos, so much so, the bag is totally ripped open so she can examine the crumbs is out. Not the guy going, "Shut up fool!" over his cell phone. Obviously not the lady who packed her groceries in the seat next to her. I end up sitting next to a guy who looks at me, smiles and says hello--but almost like he might be the chatty kind. I might be paranoid, but I smile back and then determinedly pull out my cell phone like I've got a text to attend to. I begin texting jibberish to no one (well at least I'm not talking jibberish to no one!) and burn my eyes into the screen like nothing around me could be near as important. Hope he gets the hint. People ask why I don't just bring a book. Two problems with a book: 1) Books are a great conversation piece, and can actually work against a person looking to avoid conversation. 2) A book invites the person you're literally brushing shoulders with to stare over your shoulder and read right along with you. But that's personal! No stranger is going to ask you who you are texting and what about. (Of course never say never on the 22.) Anyway, I text until an empty bench comes open and I hop to it--just as the subject of my next post walks on....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cousin Prince Barkley

Hmmm...well? How do I accurately describe the man who just walked on the bus? My first thought was Prince. Or, Artist Formerly Known As...whatever, who cares. Prince. Mix in a little Gnarls Barkley. And finally, Cousin Itt. This guy has a funky, dark, underworld, not-sure-how-to-work-in-the-gothic-hairstyle sort of look. His hair is shoulder length and it actually covers his entire head like a helmet. I can't make out much of his face. It's mean, but Cousin Itt comes to mind. He wears a black trench coat and rocks a huge, purple cross around his neck. He's wearing multi-colored bangle bracelets. LOTS of bracelets that go halfway up his arms. I can see just the tip of his chin (and believe me, I'm not trying to stare at this guy) and it looks like there might be a goatee in there. He is sitting right next to me on the community bench seat nearest the front of the bus, formally the "Priority Seating for Disabled or Elderly People." He holds his hands, painted black fingernails, in his lap and bows his head in meditation--I think. I'm not bothered by him at all since he's not talking to me, talking thru me and he doesn't emit a funk, however--I want so badly to poke at his stiff helmet head of hair!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nearly Normal

Today I picked the wrong seat on the bus. I sit down to find a pile of crushed peanut shells all around me, and there is a line of sticky liquid on the floor around it. Doesn't smell so I don't assume the worst--stream of juice box juice is my best guess--but maybe I don't really want to know. I just lift my flip flopped feet slightly off the ground and try my best to avoid it. For a sec, I consider moving but the bus begins to move and I relinquish the idea. After all, it's not as bad as the bloody Band Aid I found at my feet a week earlier. The rest of the ride is for the most part, uneventful and odor free and I allow myself to zone out. Then just before the bridge into downtown at the tail end of my ride, the older teenage boy sitting in front of me turns 180 and looks right at me. I swallow hard and think: Here we go.... "Excuse me. Do you know if this bus goes to Pine?" he asked. A normal question. It's the first. I've been asked if I were Hillary, would I leave Bill. I've been asked for money. And I've been asked in a threatening tone, "Who do you think you are?" Tho that last question I think was meant for someone in front of me or behind that only the lady who asked could see. She continued to ramble and cock her head in anger but I'm pretty sure she was leaving me out of it. Anyway, normal question happens. And I don't even have a good answer for it. Poor kid has to go to Pine which is a longer ride than mine, so I tell him I believe it does, but I'm not sure. All the while, I'm thinking: He knows I'm a regular on this bus. He senses it somehow. Do I really appear so comfortable on this bus? OMG! Do I smell?? I tell him people ask the bus driver questions all the time about their route, and that he should ask at the next stop. But he doesn't. I think he's a little nervous to walk to the front--maybe it's the mystery liquid on the floor that wigs him out. When my stop comes up, I tap him on the shoulder and confirm he needs Pine. I tell him I'll ask on my way out and give him the thumbs up if he should remain on the bus. Bus driver says good and I flash the kid a thumbs up just before exiting. Couple things I learned today on the 22: a) feels good to help a novice 22 commuter and b) keep your feet up.

Monday, July 21, 2008

International 22

Took a little vacation this past week from riding the bus. I took Thursday and Friday off work to go with friends to Vancouver and Whistler, B.C. for a long weekend. Two whole days I didn't ride the bus. That's four trips and about an hour and a half worth of bus ride avoided. (Not to mention 7 bucks saved.) Still, I was haunted by the 22, after passing it twice near Gastown in Vancouver. The second time around, my eagle vision spotted it just early enough to prepare my camera and snap this photo. Luckily, I didn't have to ride this intl version 22, and the only wildlife I encountered was a real, live brown bear from a safe distance on Whistler mountain. Though somewhat mangy, he appeared to be sober.

Monday, July 14, 2008

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem

Why some people ride the bus without shirts, I don't know. How they have the confidence to pull off such a daring look in a public place, I have no idea. Why they think they look good shirtless, is beyond me. Why she walked on with a neon green bra and jean shorts, I cannot even begin to fathom....

Preach On, Preacher

We've got another live one today, a talker who talks to no one--we can see, anyway. When I walked on the bus, he was already talking to a younger gal, who was leaning into him, apparently involved. So I thought nothing of it, except that he was animated and obviously passionate about this discussion. Next thing I know, the girl walks off the bus mid-his speech and he just went on talking. Did I miss something? I guess I did, however, he did not miss a beat. He kept going, talking, pointing and gesturing and raising eyebrows like he were a lecture hall professor, or a preacher. All this, and yet he was just whispering to himself. I have to admit, I was strangely intrigued by his intensity, and I would not have minded a dose of his sermon.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hemp Cologne?

Two stops after mine, a younger guy walks on the bus. Instantly I'm overcome with the familiar odor of an illegal substance. POWERFULLY potent, this guy is. So much so, I have no doubt he's packing in one of his coat pockets. He happens to sit across from another young guy, who stares at him for a sec before letting out a low, stoner laugh. Then, with a big grin, laugher reaches inside his coat and half pulls out a glass pipe to show the guy he is in good company, and as if to ask: Wanna share?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The "Regular"

A very drunk man got on the bus this afternoon. He doesn't have money to pay the driver and he slurs something to him that I don't understand. Bus driver actually says, "I don't understand." So the guy sways a little with obvious annoyance and manages to spit out, "I lost my bus transfer!" (I think, anyway.) Bus driver waves him back, not wanting to deal with him. Drunk man proceeds to go in and out of consciousness, while I avoid any waking eye contact since we are the only two on the bus. A woman gets on, and naive to the situation, she sits directly across from drunky. He is suddenly intrigued by her and he tries several times to get her attention. "Hey." "Hey." "Hey!" "You!" "Scu-me!" "Hey!" And then I think he said, "Nice shirt" but I can't be certain. She ignores him, and rightly so but finally the driver has to butt in and says, "Where you goin' sir?" Drunky slurs something incomprehensible and I watch his eyes flutter around in a half-dazed state. More than half-dazed, actually. A few minutes later before going over the bridge and crossing into downtown, the bus driver pulls over at an empty stop, gets out of his seat and walks over to drunky, who by now is completely passed out. Bus driver shakes drunky for a minute and wakes him, telling him he's gotta get off the bus before they head downtown. Drunk man is completely confused and unaware of where he's at, and probably how he got on the bus. He hesitates to go and bus driver probes him to leave. Drunky gives a frustrated, "Don't mess with me!" and he evaluates the bus stop before he stumbles off.

The interesting thing to me is the fact that I saw this same, extremely intoxicated man sitting at my bus stop a few months back, surrounded by firefighters. I asked if I should keep going to the next stop and they said I'd be fine here--they just needed to coax him into the ambulance so they could take him to a shelter. They told me he had passed out at the bus stop from a day of heavy drinking (it was 4 p.m.). I actually feel sorry for this guy and something tells me I'll be seeing him again.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Smile at the Rain

There is a man sitting in front of me wearing a garbage bag. It's pretty rainy outside so I can understand this. What I don't understand is who he is talking to when he looks toward the window. I don't see anyone out there--but he is smiling--so I'm just glad it's a nice conversation.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Short Story

I began riding the 22 bus just over a year ago. My trip is about 20-25 minutes, once in the morning and then again in the afternoon. Not too long, right? WRONG. 20-25 minutes is just enough time to get a glimpse into the dark world of downtown commuters. It's just enough time to sit next to people with urine and poop stains; to avoid eye contact with people who talk jibberish to no one; to stare at old men looking comatose, hoping they will wake up eventually; to witness my bus driver threaten more fortunate car commuters; to cower from vampires (seriously, lots of vampires on the 22); to hear very loud phone conversations like this one: No I did NOT steal a line dude! Why would I even care about .0004 grams of cocaine anyway!? 20-25 minutes is just enough time to jot down a few good stories that I will share here in this blog. Unfortunately for me and the rest of the minority who choose to shower daily, 20-25 minutes is just too much time to hold our breath.