Tag Archives: busing while pregnant

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.

The wisdom of bus ladies

When I was pregnant with Chicklet, folks I met on buses and at stops regularly inquired about the gender of my bus-bundle-to-be. Some of them (almost always middle-aged to older women) were sure they already knew. “It’s a girl,” they announced confidently, almost to a woman. “I can tell because of the way you’re carrying/how tired you look/the curl in your hair.” (OK, they didn’t mention my hair, but I’m pretty sure my fingernails came up a time or two.) Back then, I knew they were right (since I’d chosen to find out Chicklet’s gender) and was duly impressed by their powers. How do they do that?*

Nerd and I have chosen not to find out the gender of Bus Baby #2, and, for some reason, I haven’t been getting as many (really, any) bus-based gender predictions. Or, at least, I hadn’t. Last Friday, as Chicklet and I were waiting to board the 8**, we moved aside to let a middle-aged bus lady off. She took one look at us and exclaimed, “Oh wow! A baby boy!” I was confused at first, since Chicket is a girl (though she was wearing a raincoat with a hood) and not really a baby anymore, until the woman put her hand on my belly and gave it a vigorous rub. “How wonderful,” she said. “Now you’ll have one of each.”

And so, it seems, it is settled. The power of the bus lady cannot be denied.

Guess this’ll narrow down our name options.

*I need to know, since, in the not-too-distant future, I will be a middle-aged bus lady.
**Have I mentioned how much I love that the 8 runs every day now? Sunday afternoon cravings for greasy fries (and tartar!) from Dick’s can finally be indulged.

Deja 2…and 3, and 4, and (alas!) 27

Folks, I wrote about this phenomenon in ’07 and am still struggling to understand.

If you were looking forward to several months free of Howyoudoin?s, Whatsyourname?s, and Youmarried?s, prepare to be disappointed. You will, in fact, continue to be propositioned — both by members of that group of discerning gentlemen who don’t bother to look at the women they’re chatting up, and by an even more disturbing group: men who are actually attracted to pregnant women. Listen, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Should I be concerned (not for myself so much as for all of humanity) that I get more play* when waddling around town with child (and wearing a wedding ring) than I did back when I was a single bus chick?

*Interestingly (or perhaps not), I am rarely bothered (pregnant or not) when I travel with Chicklet.

One Link photo I didn’t post

Chick and Chicklet at Othello Station

No, I haven’t been hitting Three Girls too hard this summer–well, not any harder than usual, anyway. I decided, since I had so much fun (ahem) busing while pregnant in ’07, I’d give it another whirl.

Yes, folks, Bus Nerd and I are expecting another little one early next year–January, to be exact–and facing what will surely be the greatest test of our car-free life thus far: busing with two babies.

27 + 60 = a bus baby

Bus Baby has arrived!


First name: Rosa, after Original Bus Chick
Middle name: Caroline, after my mom
Nickname: Bus Chicklet (thanks to the reader who suggested it last spring)
Birth date: 11/1/07
Birth time: 7:33 AM
Weight: 8 pounds, 7 ounces

I am new

We had planned a cab to the hospital, which is only a couple of miles from our house, and had also enlisted family and friends as backup transporters; however, because we had more warning than most people (more on that later), we managed to ride the bus to (27 + 60) and from (a short walk + 4) Miss Rosa’s delivery.

As you can imagine, Bus Nerd and I are a bit preoccupied (and tired!) right now, but I promise to share the whole story very soon.

Still riding…

I’m waiting patiently for Bus Baby to make an appearance (hey, I thought I signed up for 40 weeks–not 41), frightening my fellow passengers, who, it seems, are desperately hoping my water doesn’t break while we’re sharing a seat.

There are several items I failed to report while I was busy attempting to will myself into labor, but I only have the energy to tell you about two of them.

First, the not-so-good news:

Flexcar members will be paying the rental car tax. From a recent Flexcar newsletter:

As you may know, Flexcar has been working with the Department of Revenue to address the application of the State and County rental-car tax to Flexcar members. While we made important progress in educating the Department of Revenue on why car-sharing is different from traditional car rental, we were unable to reach a definitive resolution. The Department determined that it could not exempt car-sharing from the rental-car tax without legislative authority.

Consequently, the Department of Revenue has informed us that we must now begin to collect the rental-car tax effective November 1, 2007. As a result, you will see those taxes reflected in our invoices beginning with any November Flexcar charges. For trips using Flexcars in King County (Seattle, Bellevue, or Kirkland), the rental-car tax will be 9.7%. Use of Flexcar vehicles in Vancouver, WA, will be subject to a rental-car tax of 5.9%.

Guess it’s time to get that “legislative authority.” There’s already a petition circulating.

Now, to cheer us up:

Sustainable Ballard received 436 October “undriving” pledges at their Undriver Licensing booth last month. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Not drive to any destination adjacent to or in downtown Seattle.
2. No driving on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
3. Never drive to the grocery – even if it’s in the middle of the night. [Apparently, this person is familiar with Bus Chick’s Diet Plan.]
4. Walk kids to school, walk to work – back home. Get gear for rain to be prepared!
5. Not replace our 2nd car.
6. Not drive daughter to school, have her take bus.
7. Skateboard to Sunny’s Teriyaki.
8. Not drive at all except for one Flexcar trip on one day. Use bus + foot.
9. Commute 5 days a week by bus or bike. Bike or carpool to church and church meetings.
10. Bus to my volunteer job. Walk to shopping. Get my bike back in riding condition.
11. Ride my bike to school (Ballard to Capitol Hill) one time a week for full quarter.
12. Walk at least 3 days a week rather than driving to the pool.
13. Sell my car! Ride the bus, bike or walk to work.
14. Help my neighbor drive less by organizing a car-share. Bike to work.
15. Walk to Ballard Market + walk/bus for weekend nights out.
16. Not drive to Tacoma or Everett but take the Sounder
17. Use the bus to take my daughter to school at least three times per week.
18. Combine by errands into one trip and make more of my trips on my bike.
19. Prepare to sell our second car – carpool – and look into a bike buggy for errands.
20. Reduce in-person meetings for the organizations I work with, meeting by phone, email, etc.
21. Take the bus to: Seatac Airport, Benaroya Hall. Bike to work more. Get my winter lights installed!
22. Bike to work every day. Do local errands (<1 mile) with bike or by foot. Take public transportation to airport/downtown.
23. Run the dogs at the local parks once a week instead of driving to a farther away park.
24. Ride my bike to the library + grocery store on weekends.
25. Only drive if I am heading out of the city.
26. Carpool or ride the bus to all events throughout the month.
27. Never to use my car in the center of the Ballard neighborhood – always to walk around the neighborhood.
28. Walk or bike to school every day, organize “walk to school” month + help create walking school buses to Adams Elementary.
29. Walk 2x per week instead of drive to coffee. And bus 2x per week to kids’ activities.
30. Not drive on weekend.
31. Drive only when moving furniture, and in all other cases bike or use public transit.
32. Talk to others about the steps we’ve taken to reduce driving.
33. Speak to 6 people about the benefits of not owning an automobile.
34. Drive less and to talk my wife into driving less.
35. Encourage my yoga students to bike, bus or walk to class.

Anyone got an undriving pledge for November? I’ve got 10 Metro “ride free” passes for the person who posts the most inspirational pledge (read: the one I like best).

Not-so-great expectations, part II: more joys of busing while pregnant

Only a few short weeks (fingers crossed) until Bus Baby arrives. In honor of our nine-month adventure together, last week’s Real Change column:

Great Expectations, Part II

More joys of busing while pregnant

1. If you think being a bus chick requires “restroom radar,” try being a bus chick with a five-pound weight resting on your bladder. To ward off disaster, keep a list of available restrooms near your regular stops–along with relevant codes and key locations–in your bus chick bag. Also, don’t forget to time hydration. Do not drink anything within an hour (preferably two hours) of any bus excursion.

2. After the “constantly sick and exhausted” phase of the first trimester passes, you might feel well enough to run again. When deciding whether to run for a bus, consider that, A, any jostling of the five-pound weight might adversely affect your bladder (see above); and B, even if you were a track star in high school, these days, you can barely keep pace with an 80-year-old woman pushing a walker (no disrespect to my 80-year-old bus chick sisters). Face the fact that you are unlikely to actually catch the bus you are “running” for. Finally, C: It will take you the entire ride (or the wait for the next bus) to catch your breath.

3. People will (kindly) offer you help when you don’t need it. Some examples: holding your arm when you board the bus and offering to carry shopping bags that aren’t heavy.

4. People will not offer you help when you do need it. Prepare to stand on full buses and at crowded stops — no matter how badly your back hurts — regularly.

5. Remember that expression, “Everyone loves a pregnant woman”? Well, everyone on the bus really loves a pregnant woman. (Personally, I don’t understand the fascination. I’d rather see a cute baby in the flesh than a woman with a big ol’ belly any day. But I digress.) You will be asked when you are due and the gender of your child on almost every ride you take. You will be told stories of daughters, wives, and nieces who are also expecting, and, unfortunately, of horrific labor experiences. While constant baby talk can certainly get tedious, it’s best not to fight it. (Not that you could. Not even headphones, a book, and your best “don’t talk to me” expression will prevent the questions.) Besides, for this bus chick, “When’s your baby due?” beats, “What are you?” (and all associated questions) hands down.

6. On a related note…

If you were looking forward to several months free of Howyoudoin?s, Whatsyourname?s, and Youmarried?s, prepare to be disappointed. You will, in fact, continue to be propositioned — both by members of that group of discerning gentlemen who don’t bother to actually look at the women they’re chatting up, and by an even more disturbing group: men who are actually attracted to pregnant women. Listen, don’t say I didn’t warn you. On the plus side: You don’t have to worry about fitting your enormous belly behind a steering wheel.

Does it count if you’re carrying shopping bags?

This evening, as I got off the 27, the driver kneeled the bus for me. (Yes, in Bus Chick’s world, “kneel” is a transitive verb, and inanimate objects without actual knees can be “knelt.”) I’m not sure if it was because of my enormous belly or the enormous bag (full of recently purchased pillows) I was carrying, but Bus Nerd says it counts.

I really can’t explain why I’m so happy to have reached this milestone. There’s just something about the lowering of the bus (and its associated beep) that thrills me. Maybe it’s my transit geek tendencies. More likely, it’s my unfortunate obsession with low-riding cars with candy paint and ridiculous hydraulics. (What you know about switchin’ lanes on the wood grain?) Of course, there’s also the possibility that pregnancy is so tedious that any break in the monotony is a welcome distraction. But I digress.

I suppose all of us will eventually have the privilege of using bus accessibility technology, so I’m not sure why I’m in a rush. After what I witnessed a couple of months ago, I’m certainly not in any rush to try the ramp.

A Friday of firsts

On the 48 this morning, I sat behind a father who was taking his preschool-age son on the bus for the first time. The two of them seemed to be having a great time: the son, excited about the bell, the big seats, the beeping of bus passes as they slid through the reader; the father, happy to answer his son’s questions about what was what and why, chuckling at the boy’s occasional outbursts (That’s a big truck!/Did a bad guy mess up that building?/Three blue cars!). It was a beautiful father-son bonding experience–that is, until, about three stops from Montlake, when an average-sized, middle-aged man got on, and the little boy shouted, in the same excited tone he’d used to point out the truck, “Ooh! Look at that big fat guy!”

On my next ride, I experienced a parenting first of my own: 25 weeks into my pregnancy, on a standing-room only bus, someone actually offered me a seat. (I didn’t take it, since I felt able to stand.) Of course I was grateful but also, for some odd reason, embarrassed. It’s strange to be on the other end of that offer.

Northbound 48, 8:55 AM (or, At last!)

As I board, I greet one of my regular drivers.

Driver (grinning): “Hey, you’ve got priority, right?”

Me (grinning harder): “You noticed.”

No one’s offered me a seat yet, but these days (second trimester and feelin’ fine), I don’t really need one.

I look forward to the day when I’m big enough for a driver to make the bus kneel for me.