Monthly Archives: November 2006

The new “it” bus pastime

This morning, a young woman got on the 8 with her knitting and sparked a bus-wide discussion. It started with the old ladies sitting near her in the front, then spread to the women further back, and eventually, to the punk-rock guy sitting next to me in the third row. Folks wanted to know what she was making (a scarf–it’s the only thing she’s mastered in two years of lessons) and how long it had taken her (two months so far). I got off mid-discussion, so I missed her tales of adventures in crocheting.

Last night, on the 48, I sat across from a middle-aged woman knitting a sweater. And at least twice a week, I see someone (usually a youngish woman) knitting something on the 545. (I have yet to see a man doing it–on the bus, anyway–but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.) Knitting, it appears, is enjoying a bit of a renaissance, and its prevalence on buses is as sure a sign as any.

Anyone else been seeing (or doing) any bus knitting of late?

Eastbound 2, 1 PM

A cell phone conversation:

“Do you have plans for Thanksgiving?” [pause] “Oh, good. I just didn’t want you to be out there with the cats and, like, a chicken pot pie or something.”

How to make a bus chick angry

It took me a full minute to get around this considerately parked vehicle, which I encountered on my way from the 48 stop at 23rd & Spring. When I got to the other side, I spent another minute trying to figure out how someone with a wheelchair would have managed it.

Bad car!

Perhaps it was too much trouble to pull forward a few feet into that empty driveway…

Speaking of suburbs…

From BusinessWeek:

A new report from the Washington-based Center for Housing Policy finds that in major metropolitan regions around the country, the money you save on housing by moving away from the city is about the same amount you will spend on additional transportation costs.

And this:

Frequently, families that move away from cities such as San Francisco fail to prepare for the high cost of the car culture they enter. “Transportation means not only going to work, but if you’re living in one of the outlying suburbs, it means you need a car to do absolutely everything,” says Barbara Lipman, the research director for the report. “I think it’s important to consider your total costs.”

In this week’s Real Change column, which is about the importance of location to a successful car-free life, I also touch on the issue:

If you’re settling for a sidewalkless suburb with spread-out strip malls and hourly bus service because you think it’s cheaper, consider this: According to the American Automobile Association, the total annual cost (including gas, insurance, parking, maintenance, and depreciation) for an average mid-sized sedan in 2004 was $8,410. If you move to a transit-friendly neighborhood, you can drop that expensive habit. Spend $700 for an annual Metro pass, throw in another $700 for fare upgrades, Flexcar rentals, and occasional cabs, and you’ve still got an extra $7,000–almost $600 per month–to contribute to higher housing costs.

27+554+271=disappointed Bus Nerd

Today we took a trip to a Wolverine den in Issaquah for the big game. It didn’t go as well as Bus Nerd and his fellow alums had hoped, but at least I got to check out the new and improved Eastgate Park & Ride.

And then, on the 271 back to Seattle, there were the two old guys sitting in the front, trading stories of ailments and listening wistfully to the celebratory noises from the group of young men heading out for the night.

Old guy 1: “When I hear those young guys laughing, it makes me think, ‘They don’t know what’s in store.'”
Old guy 2: “No sir–they don’t know what’s comin’.”
Old guy 1: “If they did, they’d … jump off a cliff or something.”

A bus stop face-off

Montlake Freeway Station, 8:45 AM:

A very large man in a (very red) Ohio State sweatshirt is standing in the shelter when we arrive. Bus Nerd, a (runner-slim) UM grad, defiantly unzips his jacket to reveal a Michigan fleece.

Bus Nerd, to me: “The battle lines are drawn.”

On the bus, looking fabulous

I’m heading out to a party tonight (27+28), despite the fact that I’ve been under the weather since Monday. (Red wine might be just the medicine I need.) In honor, last week’s Real Change column:

I have great empathy for my fellow Seattleites who are struggling to shake their addiction to cars. I know quite well how difficult it is to kick a powerful habit. How? Because, dear readers, I, too, struggle with an addiction — to my flat iron.

That perfectly smooth, bone-straight look I’m rockin’ in the picture next to my byline? That look required a potentially lethal appliance, a parting comb, at least a dozen hair clips, and far too much of my precious time. Any contact with water will make short work of my efforts, which is a problem, considering that my chosen form of transportation requires frequent exposure to the elements, and the element I am exposed to most frequently is rain.

Does this confirm the suspicions of many women I know — that a girl must exchange her style for the benefits a bus-based life? Nope. We bus chicks can be just as fabulous as our car-dependent counterparts (more, even), provided we’re willing to prepare ourselves accordingly.

The first priority is to find a hairstyle that can withstand our challenging climate. What works for each bus chick is different, but the key is low maintenance. I’ve learned to limit the straight styles to sunny weather and special occasions. On most days, I either embrace (with the help of some good leave-in conditioner) the naturally curly Carla, or opt for a simple, sexy chignon.

And speaking of sexy…

What bus chicks lack in elaborate hair styles, we make up for in other areas. For example, because we get exercise naturally — walking to and from stops and running to catch buses — we tend to have fit bodies. Fit bodies look good in just about anything, including bus-friendly gear like jeans and boots.

And speaking of boots…

While all that walking and running might be good for our bodies, it’s not so good for our footwear. Polish can remove scuff marks, but scuff marks are the least of a bus chick’s worries. Nothing ruins the appearance of shoes like worn-down heels. Thankfully, there’s a solution: taps. (Get the rubber kind to avoid announcing your approach from three blocks away.) Of course, when your outfit demands shoes that aren’t walk-friendly (taps or not), you can wear reasonable substitutes for the trip and carry the cute pair in your bag.

And speaking of bags…

Fellow bus chicks, walk softly (on your rubber taps) but carry a big purse — and not just for your extra shoes. In addition to your day-to-day necessities (wallet, cell phone, keys, book), you’ll need it for your umbrella, natural-bristle brush (to smooth the chignon), lotion (to apply after public-bathroom hand-washing adventures), and unflattering waterproof jacket. For those fancy occasions that require a small purse, bring a bus nerd along to help with carrying. If you follow these guidelines, you won’t have any trouble attracting one.

What’s hot (or at least not cold) this November

Hot: Bus shelters with glass walls
Not: Shelters with no walls–or the mesh replacements that the let the wind in
Really not: Stops without shelters

Hot: Buses with working heaters (and drivers who turn them on)
Not: Buses with broken heaters
Really not: Passengers who open windows on days you can see your breath

Hot: Stylish, waterproof gloves that allow for maximum dexterity
Not: Big ol’, cumbersome mittens
Really not: Forgetting gloves or mittens on the bus