Monthly Archives: January 2010

Score one for the bus ladies

At 6:20 on Sunday morning, we welcomed a new member to our bus family. True to the predictions of the bus ladies (and everyone else), it’s a boy. His stats:

Name: Quincy Tonderai
Nickname: Busling
Birth date: 1/24/2010
Weight: 9 lbs, 5.5 ounces (And we thought his sister was big!)
Length: 21.25 inches

New Baby Busling

We rode to the hospital in a cab (door-to-door in five minutes) and took our baby Busling home on our family’s favorite route. (It’s a pretty long walk from Swedish to the 27 stop, but we had missed the 4 and were eager to get home to Chicklet.) Like his sister, he took his first bus ride in a car seat, since babies aren’t allowed to leave the hospital without one, but–also like his sister–he’ll soon be taking all his rides in a carrier.

Since the trip home, we’ve been bus free, resting and spending some QT with our sweet QT.

Car-free parenting: Emergency room adventures

At 2 AM Saturday morning, Chicklet woke up with a fever of over 104. After calling our insurance hotline and talking with an on-call nurse and doctor, we decided to take her to the emergency room. Even if the bus had been running at that hour, walking and waiting were out of the question (for me, anyway–Nerd was down), and there were no Zipcars available in our neighborhood. So, we settled for option three–a cab–and were sitting in the Swedish ER within 15 minutes of the call.*

Fortunately, Chicklet was not seriously ill. She had case of strep throat, from which she has recovered quite quickly. And have I mentioned how grateful I am to have insurance and access to quality medical care? I digress.

The prospect of emergency-illness situations like this was one of the few issues that gave me pause when planning for car-free parenthood. Nerd and I both knew that we’d remain car-free when we had kids and that we’d do whatever was necessary to make it work,** but from the beginning, I’ve felt anxiety about how we would handle the inevitable medical emergencies that seem to arise with small children.

I realize that this is an irrational fear. After all, we’ve chosen to live in a dense(ish), urban neighborhood that gives us easy access to both regular and emergency care. Our home is a block from Chicklet’s pediatrician and within a couple of miles of four hospitals. We also have multiple travel options (Zipcars, cabs, or ambulances, depending on the circumstances) for situations when her pediatrician’s office is closed and a bus is not available or practical. Still, there’s something about not feeling in control and about having to figure out how to get somewhere in a moment of crisis, that doesn’t–or, at least, didn’t–sit well with me.

Now that we have a few Chicklet ER trips under our belt (one by bus, one by Zipcar, and this latest, by cab), I feel more at ease. In every case, we were sitting in the waiting room within 30 minutes of our decision to go, which is faster than most car-owning suburban parents–many of whom live long drives from hospitals–can make it. In fact, if all else failed, we could probably walk to a hospital faster than a large percentage of Americans could drive to one. Shoot, if my parent-protective-fear-adrenaline instinct was activated, I’d run.

*It was actually a good trial run for labor (assuming that ever happens), which will also probably involve a cab ride.

**So far, we haven’t changed much–in terms of our transportation and living situation, at least. We still live in the same–though much more crowded–home, still rent Zipcars about as frequently, and still ride the same routes. About the only thing that’s changed is that we walk in our neighborhood (mostly headed to parks) even more than we did before.

The morning after

This morning, at about 9:30, I hopped on the 4, headed to my bazillionth obstetrician appointment. (Due date was Sunday and BB2B, who is apparently taking after Big Sister, does not seem eager to make an appearance.) It started out as an uneventful ride–a crowded and quiet (wrapped) trolley inching its way west on Jefferson toward downtown–until we pulled up to the stop at 12th.

Even though I had brought my bus read, I chose to spend the ride staring out the window and daydreaming, so I immediately noticed an odd woman standing at the stop, pulling her t-shirt up over her nose and flailing her arms (as if preparing for a race) while everyone else was boarding. Just as the driver was about to take off, she ran to the back entrance and grabbed both doors, leaving her sweatshirt and bag on the bench behind her. She held the doors for at least 30 seconds, then rushed aboard the bus and attacked the woman sitting directly behind me. It became clear almost immediately that: 1) the attacker did not know her victim and 2) she was completely out of her mind.

She grabbed a fistful of the woman’s hair and yanked, slapping and hitting her anywhere she could reach, all the while yelling and ranting at the top of her lungs. Another woman tried to stop the assault and was hit several times for her trouble. To our shero’s credit, she didn’t let up. The attacker continued to lunge at her victim, only letting go of her hair long enough to fend off the shero and to slap a man sitting nearby.

SPD arrived within a minute. The woman ran off the bus as soon as she saw the cops, though whether it was to get away from or confront them, I am not sure. Whatever the case, they apprehended her without much effort, though not before she managed to tear off her t-shirt and toss it at them. She was arrested, face down on the sidewalk, in nothing but her bra.

I’m still rattled, for so many reasons it’s hard to isolate why.

I’ve been riding Metro buses for 30(+) years, and I’ve witnessed my share of drama, but this is the first time I’ve ever felt afraid on a ride. I should say, of course, that this attack wasn’t specific to the bus; it could just have easily happened to someone walking by this woman on the street. (And Lord knows, crazy people attacking at random, in all kinds of settings, is far too common of late.) But, since this particular act of violence did happen on the bus, while I was riding, it’s worth discussing.

This wasn’t a fight between people with a specific beef, which can be disturbing but rarely feels threatening; it was a random attack on a woman who was minding her own business on her way to work. (It also happened to be a woman I’ve been seeing on buses for years–and who I consider to be part of my “bus family“–which made it hit closer to home.) I travel on the 4 with Chicklet all the time. What would I have done (and how would I have been able to protect her) if that woman had come after us?

I take normal precautions to stay safe (don’t travel alone at night except to places with substantial foot traffic, don’t wait at isolated stops, stay aware of my surroundings), but I’ve always felt that broad daylight on a crowded bus (or street) is about as safe as it can get. All of a sudden, even though I know intellectually that these types of incidents don’t happen often, I feel vulnerable in ways I haven’t in the past.

And that’s another thing: Only one person on that entire crowded bus lifted a finger to help the woman who was being attacked. Yes, we were all in shock (and many of us–especially big, lumbering, off-balance me–wouldn’t have been of much help), but mostly, I think, we were just worried about our own safety. I wanted the attacker to stop hurting the woman, but I was spending most of my brain cycles figuring out how to keep her from hurting me.

And that, after all of yesterday‘s celebrating and marching and talking and thinking and teaching my kid about peace and justice and concern for one’s fellow human, is more than a little disappointing.

And speaking of…

My favorite holiday is coming up on Monday, and there are going to be lots of events going on around town. (Assuming I’m not in–or recovering from–labor, I’ll be at the march and then the CD Forum event at the Seattle Center.) If you’re planning to attend any of the festivities (or, if you have to work on the 18th), you’ll probably want to check out Metro’s King Holiday schedule.

Respect to those who came before, 2010 edition

I decided to take a break from the quote I usually post on this day and hit you with some new ones–some that happen to reflect my state of mind right about now.*

We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Even a superficial look at history reveals that no social advance rolls on the wheels of inevitability. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concerns of dedicated individuals. Without persistent effort, time itself becomes an ally of the insurgent and primitive forces of irrational emotionalism and social destruction. This is no time for complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.

Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion… Not a few men who cherish lofty and noble ideals hide them under a bushel for fear of becoming different.

Happy birthday, Dr. King.

* All quotes were taken from The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr., by Coretta Scott King. The book was a gift from my brother, Jeremy, many years ago on my own birthday (which happens to be today as well), and I continue to refer to it for inspiration and guidance.

Good news for multi-modal types

Starting on February 6th, you’ll be able to load your bike in the Ride-Free Zone at any time of day. I’m not much of a ‘bike+bus’er, but I did learn about the “no loading downtown during rush hour” rule the hard way several years back. The second time I ever tried to put my bike on a bus, I tried it at 7 AM at the stop in front of Benaroya Hall and, to my dismay, got publicly corrected by the driver. (Of course, I learned later that it could have been much worse.)

My multi-modal days are over for the foreseeable future, (not that they’d ever really begun) but, to all my bike-nerd friends who will benefit from this change: Happy (downtown) riding!

At least it wasn’t that cold

I missed all the “No Pants” festivities on Sunday. I meant to attend–and finally ride down to the airport station–but my very bestest friend came home (from Aspen, Colorado, land of free buses) for a surprise visit, and we had so much fun hanging out, I forgot.

Of course, there was plenty of coverage of all this half-nakedness, so you guys don’t need my take, but I do find it interesting that Seattle never participated in this long-standing annual event until we had a train. I guess riding the bus bottomless doesn’t have the same cachet?

Busing without a shirt, on the other hand, is apparently all good.