In the Bus Bag
Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri
Category Archives: Uncategorized
Last week, Laura from Eastlake sent me this note:
You often talk about Smooth Jazz and I must admit that I have been jealous. I would LOVE for the ride home to be to some music. So I thought I would send you a quick email to tell you about a great driver I had the other day coming home. It was on Wednesday night on the 70 at about 6pm. The bus driver sang a song to the entire bus about “humoring your bus driver so he doesn’t leave you at your stop while waiting.” It was really funny, …
For some reason I have yet to understand, Bus Nerd has entirely too much change. Everywhere he goes, change follows. It is in his pants pockets, in his coat pockets, in his busnerd bag. If you’re ever short bus fare, search the cushions of a couch he has recently sat on; you’re sure to find at least a couple of trips’ worth. And don’t get me started on his (former) bedroom. His spare-change jar filled up at least a year ago, subsequently overflowing onto his nightstand and into …
• Today is the first day of school! It’s also the first day of the Metro transportation pilot for Franklin and Ballard students. Wonder how it’s faring…
• Speaking of schools: There’s a new elementary in Redmond Ridge that’s named after my all-time favorite bus chick, Rosa Parks. Ironically, Rosa Parks Elementary doesn’t currently offer bus transportation. (This is not necessarily a bad thing, since all students live within a mile of the school, and there are organized groups of walkers. But still.)
• A couple of the major travel websites have
On Saturday, I received a surprise in the mail from my future mother-in-law (too cool for that title and so to be known henceforth as “my Gail”). My Gail lives in Detroit, a city that, despite plans for a fabulous new Rosa Parks Transit Center, is not known for its buses. It is, however, a city known for its cool t-shirts, and my Gail managed to find me the coolest one of all. It has a picture of a vintage 53, a route that travels the length of Woodward Avenue, one of the longest of Detroit’s very …
A couple of months ago (yes, I have a serious backblog), a reader e-mailed to point out the irony of my first name (which, for those who don’t know, is Carla). As surprising as it might sound, I haven’t thought about my name’s association with automobiles since elementary school. Back then, the class clown (incidentally, the only other kid in my grade who rode the 2 to school) got a kick out of making fun of it. “Truckla! Trainla!” he’d tease on our morning ride. Later, on the way home, he’d pick up where he left off: “Boatla! Planela!” And …
This evening, I stood next to an actual skinhead at the stop in front of Benaroya Hall. I recently learned that not all skinheads are racist neo-Nazis, but I’m thinking the fact that this one had the letters H-A-T-E tattooed on the fingers of his right hand is an indication that he’s probably not one of the “other” kinds.
Who knows? Maybe his left hand said something nice.
One of the best things about riding the bus is that you get to talk to strangers. In my years as a full-time bus chick, I have gotten to know the people I share this city with in a way that would simply not have been possible from the isolated bubble of a car.
One of the worst things about riding the bus is that you get to talk to strangers. Strangers are often annoying, or boring, or crazy. Sometimes, strangers are nosy. Several times a week, I am asked one of the following questions:
Where are you from? …
Last night I got gussied up and hopped on the 4, headed downtown for a “changing jobs” party for a friend. I love riding the bus at night. There is something about the traffic-free streets, the deserted sidewalks, and the darkness outside the windows that creates camaraderie among those of us who have found ourselves together inside the warm, brightly lit vehicle.
Last night’s ride was better than usual. My favorite 4 driver, the one I call Smooth Jazz, was at the wheel. Smooth Jazz always drives at night, and he’s as cool and laid back as they come. Every …