This time, I’ll start with the stick:
In the middle of the night on Thursday/Friday, one of my younger brothers happened to look out his kitchen window in time to catch two people breaking into the car of my other younger brother (they’re roommates). He (the first little brother) ran them off and then stayed up for hours to wait for the police and fill out the report. This is fourth car break-in/theft they’ve had to deal with in three years. And no, their cars aren’t that nice.
Now, the carrot (and you thought it was that picture of my adorable little brothers):
Funky buses and early party exits aside, I will always prefer buses to cars because of the sense of community I feel when I ride. My June 28th Real Change column, also known as a day in the life of a bus chick:
A Shared Ride
By CARLA SAULTER
Saturday, 1:25 p.m., southbound #36.
The bus is crowded already, only halfway down Third. I am lucky to find a seat facing forward–one of the last. The shy six-year old riding with her grandfather and three younger siblings is not so lucky. She stands, holding the pole nearest the front, while the rest sit in the sideways seats, speaking a language I guess to be Vietnamese. The little girl clutches the pole tighter when the bus lurches. This happens frequently, sometimes several times per block. (The driver, you see, is still working out his relationship to the trolley brakes.) I consider offering my seat, but I am far away, and they are sticking together.
A tall, thin man wearing a denim shirt and a Mariners cap gets on a few blocks after me. His body is erect and strong, but the steel gray hair and weathered skin betray his advanced age. He stands across the aisle from the little girl, holding on to the opposite pole, until two teenage boys offer their seats. Both the girl and the old man look suspicious, the old man no doubt weighing his pride against his desire to rest, the little girl perhaps remembering her lessons about strangers. After a bit of coaxing, the old man smiles and takes the seat. The little girl continues to cling to the pole.
In the seats closest to the driver (who is still struggling with the brakes) are two women — one in short shorts that (perhaps for the first time this year) expose her ghost-white legs, the other covered from head (a big, floppy, canvas hat) to toe (socks and laced shoes) despite the 80-degree heat.
At Yesler, a preteen boy followed by an entourage of adults carrying Gap shopping bags races down the aisle on his roller tennis shoes. He barely misses a barrel-chested man clutching two hot-pink, two-pound hand weights, which he has been curling periodically since I got on. In the International District, a withered old woman manages to climb aboard without the aid of the lift, despite the broomstick — weighted on either end with a garbage bag stuffed with empty aluminum cans — that rests on her frail shoulders.
And the shopping bags, hand weights, and aluminum cans are just the beginning. My fellow riders, who fill every seat and then some, carry languages, memories, hometowns. Loved ones. Losses. Anger. Aches, pains, and diseases. New shoes, romance novels, Bibles, gossip magazines. Prescriptions. Spare change. Telephones. Bedrolls. Clean underwear.
And many, many stories. Stories that are now connected as a result of a single, shared ride.