Tag Archives: 4

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.

Southbound 4, 1:55 PM

Two early twentysomething women are talking relationships in the seat directly in front of me.

Early twentysomething woman 1: “He even helped me clean up the apartment. Like, I asked him to put the dishes away and give the dog some water, and he did it.”

ETW2: “That’s really cool. John would totally have been watching TV.”

ETW1: “I know. He’s a good guy, from a nice family. They’re atheists, but he’s a really good person.”

Nameless shero?

On Saturday, Bus Nerd and I spent an evening out alone (thanks, Dawn and Juanya!) and decided to check out a restaurant we’d been meaning to try on Queen Anne. On the 4 ride home, we sat directly across from the latest Operator of the Year/Vehicle Maintenance Employee of the Year photos, and Bus Nerd pointed out that the blurb next to the OOY’s photo doesn’t include her name. Check it:

Fabulous bus maintainer, Rich Green
Exceptional bus driver with no name

I assume this was an oversight that was simply too expensive to fix. So, for those who are wondering: It’s Ineke DeBoer.

Happiness is…

Sliding onto the 4 in a basic black dress and your favorite vintage shoes* after an evening of Dwele and chocolate cake at Triple Door with your love, only to find that that 4 is being driven by none other than Smooth Jazz, who’s broadcasting just the right tunes to help you (and your love) continue the Triple Door/Dwele vibe all the way home.

* We won’t speak of the incident running for–and almost missing–the 27 (pregnant!) in said vintage shoes on the way to Triple Door.

You know you’re a bus chick if… (part II)

A bus chick
You have a date with your husband at a holiday party in Bellevue, one which requires a fancy dress and high, high heels, and even though the temperature is below freezing and it’s expected to snow, you pass on Zipcar or calling a cab in favor of the warm, weather-ready 550.

You know you’re too much of a bus chick if…

After the party, when the temperature has dropped and the snow has begun in earnest, and you’re in a hurry to make it to your warm house to kiss your little chicklet, you are stuck waiting downtown on sore feet (for the 4, no less) for 15+ minutes.


Some updates to the original list:

• You have “stop sense”: On your regular routes, you know when to pull the bell to get off, even if foggy windows, darkness, or distance from the window prevent you from seeing outside. And speaking of bells…

• When riding in a car, you reflexively reach for an imaginary bell when you begin to near your destination.

Westbound 4, 6:05 PM

Two medical professionals (lab technicians, I think) are passing the time on the ride home from work.

MP 1: “It should be ‘variety is the spice of life,’ but really, experimenting is the spice of life–or splice of life, depending on the experiment.”

More good news on Third Avenue

Yesterday, the bus fam (that is, Chicklet, Nerd, and yours truly) hopped the 4 and headed to Seattle Center to attend a retro birthday party for my friend (and world-famous author) Sundee. Fellow natives of the 2-0-sickness: Remember back in the day, when the Center was the place to hang out in the summer (at 9: ferris wheel! at 13: cute boys!), and those rides and games at the Fun Forest seemed at least as good as Disneyland’s? My perspective has changed a bit since the 80s (about the Fun Forest and Disneyland), but I’m still sad that the park won’t be around for little Chicklet to enjoy.

I digress.

Instead of taking the 4 home from the festivities, we took the Monorail and transferred downtown, because, 1) I was in one of my nostalgic moods, 2) Chicklet had never ridden the Monorail, and 3) we wanted to save time. (The two-minute ride to Westlake beats any bus, and stopping downtown gave us the option of catching a faster route up the hill.)

We used our extra minutes to visit the new(ish) Kress supermarket on 3rd & Pike. I’ve been waiting for about a gazillion years for a grocery store to open downtown, and it was long past time for me to check it out. Plus, we were out of wine.

New downtown Kress
An escalator takes you from 3rd Ave. right to the produce section.

We get our produce (and a lot of other staples) from an organic delivery service, and we live within walking distance of a grocery store, so I won’t be using this Kress for major shopping trips. That said, it’s got a pretty good selection and reasonable prices. And since, like most transit types, I’m downtown a lot, I’ll certainly be using it for quick stock-ups (they carry my favorite crackers!) between transfers–and for grabbing something (chocolate) to share at a party.

Of course, as I learned on my very first visit, I’m not the only bus rider who appreciates the new Kress.

Captain, heading down to stock up on seafarin’ necessities

Captain finished shopping at the same time we did (which is to say, just in time to catch the 27), and all four of us enjoyed a speedy ride home with our purchases.

A good driver day

Southbound 48, 2 PM: The man behind the wheel turned out to be the same man a longtime family friend brought to my nuptials, lo, those many (oh, was it only two?) years ago. I don’t actually know him, and until that ride, I had no idea he was a bus driver.

Tandy, props for your good taste in dates. How often does a bus chick get the chance to say to a driver, “Hey, I think you were a guest at my wedding!”

Eastbound 4, 8:30 PM: I rode with Smooth Jazz for the first time in almost a year. (The last time he was my driver, I think I was still busing while pregnant.) On this particular ride, he was dispensing his cool while politely fending off a rather forceful passenger-on-driver bus mack. Can’t say I blame the woman. If it weren’t for my amazingly fabulous Bus Nerd, I’d have a crush on Smooth Jazz.