Monthly Archives: June 2006

How not to impress a bus chick

a bus chick
The unsuspecting bus chick our expert hopes to pick up

Today I found a Web page entitled (I kid you not), “How to pick up chicks at bus stops.” I’m choosing not link to the site (it’s not exactly family friendly), but it’s part of a series of “how to pick up chicks” advice pages, and (thankfully) there is an accompanying instructional video.

I can’t say the man’s tactics would work on this bus chick, but he is right about one thing:

“A bus is like a massive, pimping SUV with 4000 horse power and lots of 45 inch wheels. Can your ride compete with that, b*tch? I didn’t think so.”

Of course, his tactics aren’t much worse than those of the (ahem) “men” I tend to encounter at bus stops. Case in point: Last Thursday, at around 7 PM, at the 3 stop on 23rd between Cherry and Jefferson, a high-school-age kid actually said to me, “Mmm, mmm, mmm! How you doin’…” [pause] “…ma’am?”

They don’t turn into pumpkins–they just stop running

T. Byrd to Bus Chick:

“I’m sure this is a no-brainer question…but what’s the secret to not feeling like you’re always chasing down the bus? I swear I get up with enough time. Then next thing I know I’ve squandered away the time and I’m running down the street to make the bus. Mind you, I was lollygagging and missed the 9:25 bus. I didn’t have time to get my breakfast. So, I chose to take the 9:55 bus so I could get something to eat and not have to rush.) I made my shake but then got on the computer. Sure enough, I ended up playing frogger across 70th because I could see the bus was coming. Help me out. How do you keep yourself from getting on the bus frazzled and sweaty?”

This recent e-mail from my friend Tosha (who lives in Kirkland and works in Redmond and has recently started taking the bus to work) reminded me of one of the down sides of being a bus chick: living one’s life according to a bus schedule (also known as Buschickrella Syndrome). If a person who drives leaves her house five minutes late, it is likely that she will arrive at her destination five minutes late–unless, of course, traffic conditions change drastically in those five minutes. If a bus chick leaves her house five minutes late, it is likely that she will miss the bus she intended to catch, and depending on that bus’s schedule and the schedules of any buses she must transfer to, will arrive at her destination anywhere from 15 minutes to well over an hour late. I have countless examples of this, the most recent being yesterday, when I ran out of the house in a state of disarray (run in panty hose, half-done hair) to make sure I got to my brother‘s graduation on time. You see, on Sunday, the 48 runs every 30 minutes, and taking an extra three minutes with the flat iron would have meant terrible seats and, possibly, missing his walk across the stage.

As a bus chick, I am constantly aware of the clock. I time restaurant visits (“You get the check and I’ll run to the restroom, and we’ll meet in the front in five minutes.”), errands, family visits, and of course, work schedules. As I said to Tosha in my (less-than-helpful) response:

“I find it especially hard to be a bus rider when I’m at a party or event and the last bus leaves before I’m ready to go, or the buses run infrequently (like an hour apart). It means I have to rush my exit, which I hate, and it means I can’t let the evening flow spontaneously, which I also hate.”

Truth be told, it can be exhausting. This is not to say that it’s more exhausting than the false freedom of car ownership. (Seattle traffic and parking? Gas prices? Accidents? Pollution? No thanks.) It just means that we have a long way to go before living a public-transit-dependent life is as easy as it should be.

What do you guys think?

For those of you who live without cars: Do you feel the frustration of schedule dependence? On the other side, what do you see as the freedoms of living without a car?

For those of you who drive and bus: What adjustments do you make when you ride? Do you find it difficult to time your life to fit the schedules?

One more word about change

OK, more than one:

Contrary to the impression I gave some readers on Tuesday, I am not against light rail in Seattle. In fact, I am very, very for light rail in Seattle. I, too, think the changes Sound Transit is making to major streets (not just adding the rail, but also widening sidewalks, etc.) will help to combat carism in Rainier Valley, even if, as one reader pointed out, the southern end of MLK will continue accommodate four lanes of traffic but no bike-only lane.

Tuesday’s post was mostly about emotion–my from-the-gut reaction to the huge (positive and negative) impact that the introduction of rail will have on a region of this city I happen to really like–not because that region is necessarily well-planned or easy to navigate car-free, but because it has a strong character that I relate to (more on this in the comment I added to the post). As an admitted (and recovering) changephobe, I am already preparing to miss it.

“Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better.” – Richard Hooker

Two important days in the lives of Americans

Prince in Seattle, where several claim to have spotted him boarding a very large, fancy bus.

Today, June 7th, 2006, is the 48th anniversary of the birth of Prince Rogers Nelson, one of this country’s most influential musicians, a genius who, it might be inferred by some of his song lyrics, once rode the bus. Not convinced? He also happens to be left handed, a trait which, at least according to this lefty, is common among genius/bus rider types.

Tomorrow, June 8, 2006 is National Dump the Pump Day, a day “dedicated to raising awareness that public transportation is the quickest way to beat high gas prices.” Come on, y’all! I know we’ve just shaken off that whole 90s grunge thing, but let’s make sure Seattle’s the dumpiest city of all!

Dump the Pump

Deja vu, tell you what I’m gonna do

Last night, I reminisced with my friend Aileen about the days when the Madrona Ale House was a corner drugstore, the same corner drug store that she and her neighborhood playmates frequented for candy fixes, the same one I passed every day on the 2 on my way to school. It was at this drug store that Aileen bought her very first tube of lipstick–a purchase responsible for a lifelong obsession. (I believe her current collection is in the three-digit range.) But I digress.

The Madrona of today bears almost no resemblance to the Madrona of our childhoods. And so, in the custom of so many who witness the transformation of a place they love, last night we waxed poetic about the “good old days,” decrying the changes and all those associated with them.

On the 48 on Saturday, the driver and a few other Seattle oldheads were engaged in a similar conversation, talking about how much better the city was in the 70s, back when, to paraphrase, folks had some sense. “If I had my way,” the driver said, “I’d send all those Microsoft people out to the middle of the state.”

A common trait among us changephobes is our desire to keep a place the way it was when we found it. We tend to forget that we found it at single a point on a continuum of change. (I imagine, for example, that many Duwamish people have a different version of the “good old days” than I.) So, as deeply as I’ve felt the losses I have endured as my hometown has grown up (and, unfortunately, out), I understand that change is both inevitable and necessary. Resistance to it is, after all, largely responsible for our current transportation nightmare.

And therein, ladies and gentlemen, lies the root of my current internal struggle.

Last Friday, I participated in one of Sound Transit’s lunch bus tours of the light rail construction. Not surprisingly, I am beyond excited about this project. I absolutely believe that we should build light rail in Seattle. I would even go so far as to say we don’t have a choice.

Still, as the tour guide took us by site after site and street after torn-up street, my excitement and anticipation were tempered by a deep, deep sadness. Despite years of opposition by groups like Save Our Valley, I hadn’t really understood the profound impact that light rail will have on the southern end of our city until I saw it up close. Some of it will be good, of course. Rail will reduce traffic and pollution and improve access to key destinations. Sound Transit is basically repaving all of MLK, widening sidewalks and burying power lines while they’re at it. But the process is painful. Homes have been demolished make room for tracks and the aforementioned sidewalks. Decades-old trees have been removed, to be replaced by many more new ones. Beacon Hill is actually being hollowed out, so that one day a train can run right through it. And, of course, property values are rising in anticipation of the neighborhoods’ increased desirability.

I wonder if I’ll recognize the Hill or the Valley in 20 years. Truth be told, I kinda liked them the way they were.

So pete rock hit me, nuff respect due
When they reminisce over you, listen

If a yoga studio can’t get you out of your car…

Maybe this will:

Last night I took my dad, known to his disrespectful children and their friends as ‘Romie (short for Jerome), out to dinner. We were celebrating his 67th birthday (albeit two weeks late), so I took him to my favorite restaurant, which, coincidentally, is owned by the very same Donna who is responsible for introducing me to 8 Limbs.

Because it was a “date,” ‘Romie insisted on driving, and because the restaurant was in Belltown, there was no street parking. We finally settled on a lot on 1st, between Bell and Battery. The lot didn’t have hourly parking, so everyone was charged the same, flat, “barhopper” rate. Any guesses on how much we paid to park for an hour and a half, on a Thursday?

Give up? Twelve dollars. Twelve!

That’s eight peak-hour bus rides, not including transfers.

A yoga studio combats carism

Yesterday I went to a lunchtime Yoga class at 8 Limbs with my friend Donna. A few hours before the class, I went to the 8 Limbs Web site, intending to find the street address of their Capitol Hill location and then use Trip Planner (or my fairly extensive knowledge of central city bus routes) to figure out to get there. Instead, I found that they had done the work for me by listing the bus routes that serviced each studio. (I can’t link directly to that page, but if you want to see it, go to the site. In left navigation bar, click Reach Us, and then click Maps and Directions.)

I’m guessing it didn’t take much effort for the folks at 8 Limbs to add this information to their site, but it spoke volumes to this bus chick about how they think about the world and participate in their community. It also made me feel welcome.

I felt the same warm fuzzies at the end of the class, when the teacher, who wanted to continue for five extra minutes, asked, “Does anyone have to catch the bus at 1:15?”

Somebody did.