Tag Archives: 8

How to make a bus mama proud

Parenting is really hard. It’s harder than I ever imagined, and I imagined that it was going to be hard. My baby whispering skills are legendary, but with actual children, I have no idea what I’m doing. Most days, I feel like I’m messing up motherhood — and maybe even my kids.

Then yesterday, at the 8 stop, I looked over at my progeny and saw them doing this.

My rider-readers








It wasn’t a surprise — they read every time we wait at a bus stop (or anywhere else, for that matter) — but in that moment, after a morning of whining, arguing, and selective hearing, it was a gift.

It looks like I’ve managed to get at least one thing right.

On busing and birthday parties (or, My brief encounter with a bus goddess)

One of the things I’ve come to accept about myself is that I have very few actual skills. I don’t know how to make stuff or fix stuff. (Shoot, I can barely troubleshoot a clogged toilet or hang a picture straight.) I can’t sing or draw or play an instrument. I can’t run or jump or catch. I fancy myself an “activist” but have essentially zero talent for leading people, or organizing, or motivating.

Friends, here is an exhaustive* list of the things I’m good at.

1) Writing
2) Babies
3) Riding the bus

Whether or not I feel good about my writing abilities depends on whether I’ve been able to produce anything I don’t hate (or, for that matter, anything at all) in the recent past. My baby-whispering skills do not extend to children over the age of three.

But my bus skills? They are legendary.

You cannot mess with me on my transit know-how. There are some people who could definitely crush me in the route knowledge category and others who win in the longevity department. But on the ground, I am the queen.

Or, at least I was.

Back in March, I took Chicklet to a birthday part for one of her classmates. (Have I mentioned how ridiculously easy it is riding the bus with one seven-year old? Seriously. Compared to what I’ve got going on these days, it’s like a freaking vacation.)

The party was at Seattle Children’s Museum, so we took the 8. It was on that 8 that we ran into the birthday boy and his mom, LaShaun. I knew as soon as I met LaShaun that she was a bus chick—and not just because she was on the bus. (One does not earn the title of bus chick by bus riding alone.) LaShaun was riding the bus to her kid’s birthday party.

The average non-car-owning parent of would have done one of the following on the occasion of her child’s birthday: 1) borrowed/rented a car or asked for a ride to facilitate an out-of-home birthday party, or 2) not hosted an out-of-home birthday party. (I fall into the latter category, mostly for reasons unrelated to transportation constraints.) Not LaShaun.

Nope. LaShaun had a small hand truck stacked with plastic crates that contained all of the necessary party supplies. She sat in the front area with her son curled up next to her and the cart pulled against his seat to keep it out of the way of the aisle. During the ride, we chatted about all of her preparations for this train-themed (!) party, including the table centerpiece she constructed with old tissue boxes and toilet paper rolls. (To a woman, bus chicks are resourceful, though not all are crafty enough to create table centerpieces that look like trains. Ahem.)

When we reached our stop, LaShaun hauled the entire party off the bus (while holding her son’s hand), and started rolling it across the Seattle Center campus to our destination. A few steps in (and 15 minutes before the party was supposed to start), the supporting crate cracked, and her carefully balanced tower of supplies started to come apart. We tried putting everything back together, but the tower wouldn’t hold or stay on the hand truck. The crates were too heavy and cumbersome to carry for the significant walk to the museum.

“If we had some duct tape, you could probably just fix it,” I said, mostly just to say something. Who has duct tape?

You know what? LaShaun had duct tape. In her backpack, naturally. In less than a minute, she hoisted the crates back onto the cart and taped everything, (MacGyver-style) until it was haul-able. I grabbed the cake, the kids grabbed a few small items, and the four of us marched that stuff to its destination with time to spare.

Now let me tell you what was in those crates: snacks, drinks, party favors, the centerpiece (which was perfect), train-themed decorations, and several gifts. I took a picture of the lovely cake, which wasn’t as amazing as another transit-themed cake I told you about a few years back but certainly worked for Chicklet and me.

Train cake

If I hadn’t been so sidetracked by the newborn one of the parents brought to the party (see above), I would have taken more.

Happy (early) Mother’s Day to my new bus shero.


* According to my husband, I also make a mean sweet potato pie, if that counts.

Babies, on bus schedules

The three of us (Chick, Chicklet, and Busling) are putting on shoes, jackets, and et cetera, preparing to head out and catch the 8. Chicklet, who has no rival in the dawdling department, is (per usual) taking forever. She resists instructions to take a preventative trip to the restroom, puts her shoes on the wrong feet, pauses to play with dinosaur figurines recently strewn around the entry, and manages to misplace one of her mittens.

While I’m zipping Busling’s jacket, she disappears into the bedroom. I call for her to come back and put on her hat.
She calls back: “I’m just going to get …”

Busling stops her mid-sentence, and in a perfect imitation of my exasperated tone, hollers, “We don’t have time!”

Bus Chick’s heavyweight

Not too many years ago, the bus I took most often was the 48, also known as “Forty-late,” “Dr. 48” and “the Tiger Woods* of the system.” I rode it south to Judkins Park (NAAM), Columbia City (dentist/homegirl), and Rainier Beach (friend visits), north to 23rd & Union (church, beauty shop), Montlake (545 transfer), the U District (pseudo-intellectual/artistic coffee joints, various readings and events), and Green Lake (Friday play dates).

They don’t call it Metro’s heavyweight for nothin’.

Of course, a few things have changed since then. The two biggest: the 48 stopped running south of Mount Baker Transit Center when Link opened, and I stopped commuting to the Eastside. A few other minor (but relevant) changes: my beautician moved to a shop near 15th & John, and we changed health insurance providers.

And then there’s the fact that the route I’ve had a crush on for years, the amazing 8, (finally!) started running on evenings and weekends in my neighborhood. I am not exaggerating when I say that this seemingly minor service addition has changed my life.

These days, 7 out of 10 of my bus trips are on the 8. Unlike the 48, it still goes all the way to Rainier Beach, so I can take it for southbound trips (and avoid the inconvenient transfer to Link at Mount Baker Transit Center). I also take it to Madison Valley for various errands (mostly kiddie resale shopping and home and garden stuff); to Miller Community Center for toddler playtime; to 15th & John for doctor visits, haircuts, trips to the framer, and a few of my favored (as in, “August Wilson drank here”) coffee shops; to Broadway(ish) & John for Dick’s fixes, Elliott Bay Book Co., Value Village, and Cal Anderson Park. We take it to Seattle Center for visits to PSC, PNB, the Children’s Museum, Children’s Theater, The Rep, etc., etc, etc.

And I’m not finished.

We recently hired a part-time babysitter who I’m absolutely thrilled about—and not just because her help will mean I can actually complete work during normal business hours. She’s a talented musician and performer/generally cool person who also happens to be a bus chick (coincidence? I think not!). Guess which route she’ll be riding for her rendezvous with Chicklet and Busling? Uh huh.

If it weren’t for somewhat spotty performance–it’s common for one bus to be several minutes early (!) and the next to be 15 minutes late–I’d be in love.

Now all I need is a good nickname.


* These days, the nickname has slightly different connotations, but I think it still applies.

Bus Driver Appreciation Day, 2011

Green beer and pinching are all well and good, but that’s just the warm-up to March’s most important holiday. Folks, tomorrow, March 18th, is the day to say thanks to all the hard-working men and women who do what it takes to get you where you’re going. Some manage to do it while adding a little flavor or humor to the ride. Others while (no disrespect to my Bus Nerd) looking ridiculously good. There’s an 8 driver out there who really needs to be in some sort of calendar. And while we’re on the subject: Why is there never a Stranger’s Sexiest category for bus drivers?

I digress.

Fellow transit types, go forth, and appreciate. But no pinching!

Eastbound 8, 1:30 PM

A young girl (around seven or eight) is sitting near the back with some young adult caregivers (camp counselor types), chatting about her interests, friends, and et cetera.

Adult 1, in (a rather inexplicable) response to the mention of a particular friend: “Are you going to marry Casey C?”
Girl: “No! You’re supposed to marry a boy.”

Hmm. Guess they picked the right route for that conversation.