Tag Archives: 2

Small moments

Last Thursday, I met with a woman named Rachel about a bus-themed event she is planning. Not surprisingly, Rachel and I bonded over our love for buses. We talked about the connections that happen on transit, how they influence us, instruct us, and ground us in our communities. Rachel called these interactions “small moments,” which — leaving aside the association with elementary school writing curriculum* — is exactly the right way to describe them.

Most of my meaningful bus encounters aren’t stories with a beginning, middle, and end. They don’t result in epiphanies or lasting friendships but instead in a slight opening of my heart, a brief glimpse into another life, a kindness shared or received, a small surprise.

There was the time last Friday, when the kids and I were waiting at the Madrona Park 2 stop while the bus was laying over, and the driver, who could surely have used a few moments to himself to eat, use the phone, or just be blessedly alone, opened the bus doors and invited us inside 10 minutes before he was scheduled to leave. Because it was cold.

There were the four teenagers in the back of a Friday evening 106, talking smack and cursing up a storm, then — remembering my kids —  turning to me and saying, “Oops! Excuse our language.”

There was the time in mid-November, at the height of my post-election rage and panic, when I spotted this graffiti message in front of my seat on the 3.

There were the Thanksgiving rides to and from my brother’s house (three buses each way), populated with passengers (including us) carrying dishes to share and foil-covered plates of leftovers.

There was the time Chicklet and I boarded the 48 on the way to church, and the driver announced to everyone within earshot, “Look — twins!”

There was woman next to me on the 27 having a desperate phone conversation with DSHS, trying to figure out who to talk to and how to get credit for the services she was receiving, so that she could be reunited with her children.

There was the time we played musical chairs on a crowded 4 — an elderly man getting up for a woman with a walker, and then another person offering a seat to that man, and so on, until six people had made room for someone who needed a seat more than they did.

There was the man at the 14 stop showing his birth certificate to random strangers to prove he was born in 98122 – a zip code where he can no longer afford to live.

There was the Saturday when Bus Nerd and I took Busling on separate 8 rides and later figured out we’d had the same driver, because we each returned with a snack bag of chips he’d given to Busling upon boarding.

There was the woman on the 120 who reminded me of a younger version of myself: brownish, with a bus bag, reading a big book. After I snuck a peek at the title, we spent the next few minutes bonding — over books in general and Zadie Smith in particular — until we reached her stop.

There was the time we took my three-year old nephew to the Children’s Museum, and Chicklet left one of her beloved Harry Potter books on the 8. Thanks (obviously) to wizard magic, we rode the same bus on the way home, and Chicklet found her book right where she’d left it.

There was the Link ride back in June, where I saw a woman in a hijab with a Pride t-shirt and a man with a sign that said “LGBTQ solidarity with Muslims.”

There was the time I waited at Mount Baker Transit Center with two senior adults and their 12 preschool-aged charges, who chattered cheerfully — wearing matching backpacks and grins — as they waited for the 8 in a perfectly straight line.

There was the time my kids successfully chased down a 50 for the second morning in a row, and the driver told them they would grow up to be track stars.

There are so many more, every day — every ride. Most are quickly forgotten. They are part of the background of my life, perhaps in the same way as a driver’s daily maneuvers. But unlike drivers, I am reminded every time I travel of the humanity that surrounds me.

And it is beautiful.

***

* Chicklet and Busling have both written their fair share of “small moments” stories in their school careers. So far, none have been about the bus. ; )

Westbound 2, 12:20 PM

A group of middle-aged people, dressed like teenagers and walking a tiny dog, board at Broadway. They make their way to the back, chattering as they go.

Woman 1: “I’d rather talk to people I don’t know.”
Woman 2: “I know, me too. After people get to know me, they’re like, ‘I don’t like you. You’re a b*tch.’”

Bus chick preparedness, part IV (or, How to survive a birthday party at the lake)

Back in April, the Bus Fam attended the Healthy Kids Day extravaganza at Meredith Matthews YMCA. Among the SWAG we took home was this handy little “ouch pouch” from Group Health.

Ouch Pouch

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it’s about the size and weight of a package of Kool Aid. Of course you know where it ended up.

A couple of weeks later, a family friend gave Chicklet and Busling a basket of Easter treats. It was a huge basket with tons of candy and fun, plastic toys—in other words, something we would never have bought for them ourselves. They were thrilled.

The best part from my perspective (given that the basket contained no chocolate), was this adorable little set of sand toys.

Bus-friendly beach set

It’s got everything kids like to play with at the beach—bucket, shovel, rake, sifter, sea-themed molds—but it takes up only slightly more space than a kid’s cup.

Which brings me to last Friday, the occasion of our little friend Miles’s first birthday party. Since the celebration was being held at Madrona Park on a sunny day, we wanted to be ready for beach fun. We traveled to the party (on the 2) with only the bus bag and one small additional bag, which contained: food to share, a gift (books, of course), the tiny beach set, towels, sun hats, and sun screen. We also carried an additional package (books again) for the first half of our journey. (We stopped at the post office on the way to mail a belated Father’s Day present to Busling’s Godfather.)

I digress.

During the festivities, both Chicklet and Busling managed to take some pretty good spills. (They’re learning the hard way that running and sandals don’t mix.) Fortunately for them, their mama knows how to pack a bag.

Ouch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alki, here we come!

Devil on the 2 bus

Today, after church, I hopped on the 2 and took a free, Earth Day ride downtown to meet my friend Aileen. Because it was early afternoon on a Sunday, many of my fellow riders–identifiable by their Bibles, fancy outfits, and “What did you think of Pastor So-and-so’s sermon?” conversations–were also coming from church.

One older gentleman sitting in the front section, who apparently wasn’t finished with his worship, decided to bring church to the bus. (He’s certainly not the first.) He sang songs, lectured everyone within earshot about Jesus (“Be thankful he woke you up this mornin’!”), and occasionally, demanded an “amen” from someone nearby. Some of the churchgoers joined in; most of the passengers did their best to ignore him.

I didn’t hear the bus driver ask Church Man to keep his singing and preaching to himself, but he must have, because about five minutes into the ride, Church Man started peppering his praise with, “I just can’t stop–can’t stop talking about Jesus.” Somewhere around Broadway, the driver stopped the bus and walked to Church Man’s seat, hands on hips, brow furrowed in exasperation. Without waiting to be asked, Church Man got up to leave. “You kicking me off?” he said. “That’s OK. They kicked Jesus off.”

Before the doors had even closed behind the enthusiastic worshipper, the outrage from the other passengers began.

“It’s none of my business driver, but why did you just kick that man off the bus?”
“Ooh! Did he just kick that man off the bus for singing about the Lord?”
“The devil’s on this bus.”
And, my favorite: “That’s the devil. I don’t give a sh*t what anybody says. That’s the devil.”

It was a ganging up I haven’t seen the likes of since about a year ago, when (also on the 2), the entire front section shamed a woman for talking on her cell phone. She was scheduling surgery. But I digress.

The frustrated driver didn’t handle the criticism well. He yelled back at the angry passengers, threatening to kick them off, too, and suggesting they refrain from critiquing his job performance. Their anger escalated.

“Just drive the bus, man,” they said. “Mind your business and drive the bus.”

A sarcastic “God bless you driver!” occasionally erupted from the crowd, often followed by a, “He’d better hope he doesn’t meet Jesus.”

Thankfully, I got off before they started pummeling him with their Bibles.

This week in transit: bus-related news

Metro’s oldest driver is 80. He drives the 2.

Linda Thielke, spokeswoman for Metro, said Minard “has a pretty good driving record, with only minor accidents, really minor, like losing a side mirror.”

That’s more than I can say for the guy who drove my inbound 17 on Thursday night. That driver, who was nowhere near 80, was happy to share the details of his tickets and a recent accident (the reason he “doesn’t have to worry about working overtime”) with the passenger sitting in the seat adjacent to his. As if his erratic driving wasn’t reason enough to worry. (Source: Seattle Times)

• Starting late this spring, Community Transit will begin operating a double-decker bus, to “ease the crowds on commuter routes from Snohomish County to the Eastside and downtown Seattle.” I’d certainly like to ride on a double-decker bus (if only for the coolness factor), but I’ve always thought they seemed a bit unstable. How do they compare to the articulated buses that are so popular here? Are the double deckers more efficient, safer, or roomier? (Source: king5.com)

• Metro’s giving free rides on Earth Day.

Any time on Earth Day [Sunday, April 22nd], anywhere in King County, bus rides are free for everyone. There is no need to worry about transferring from Metro to Sound Transit, Community Transit or Pierce Transit bus service, either. All of those agencies are also marking Earth Day by offering free rides.

Like I said last year: Earth Day is a great day to be a bus chick. (Source: Transportation Today)

Westbound 2, 5 PM

A woman and man, apparently colleagues, are sitting together in the back.

Woman, to the man: “My lab is on the 4th floor, across from the grad students’ office, and the room across from the break room–you know, that room where everyone goes to drink their lattes–that’s my tissue-culture room.”