Tag Archives: Glossary

Brain building while busing

Transit riders enjoy the precious gift of regular time to use as we choose. The great among us write nobel prize winning novels on the way to work. We mortals use our travel time in more ordinary ways: reading, chatting, knitting, gaming, texting, primping, prepping, macking. Also, solving puzzles.

Fellow bus chicks, behold.

Cubes

No, they aren’t mine. I am  still perfectly content to spend my rides reading, thinking, and people-watching. Plus, I’m not much of a puzzle person. The beauties pictured above belong to my beloved Bus Nerd, who, as you can see, has developed a bit of an obsession.

It started innocently enough. A couple of years ago, he picked up an old-school, 3 x 3 Rubik’s cube (same one he had as a kid) and figured out how to solve it. He practiced until he could do it in under a minute, then moved on to a 4 x 4 to increase the challenge. After he mastered that, things started getting out of hand (see photo). And yes, he can solve them all.

Bus Nerd doesn’t limit his cubing to bus rides, but they have definitely become his bus pastime of choice. He uses the cubes to entertain himself on the rides, and he uses the rides to gauge his progress on the cubes. (He knows he’s making progress if he can solve it earlier in the route.) His cubes also supplement his stop sense, since his progress on the puzzle correlates to the progress of the route.

Here is Bus Nerd, explaining his bus cubing better than I can. I apologize in advance for the sound quality.

Rider for life

OBC, n: Original bus chick. A person who has actively chosen transit over other forms of transportation for several decades; an extremely experienced transit rider.

Beulah's bus stop

A couple of years ago, King County Metro installed a bus shelter memorializing Beulah Dyer, a lifelong Seattle transit rider who passed away in 2011, at the age of 90. Born in Ballard in 1921, Mrs. Dyer started riding transit at a very young age. She never stopped.

She never tried to get a driver’s license, believing the bus was “always better.”

Dyer took up to six bus trips a day – to shop, visit with friends, attend classes, and volunteer – and was known as a “walking bus schedule.” Friends report that she could tell you, without having to look it up, which bus to take to any destination between Des Moines and Everett, and when you needed to be at the bus stop.

She raised her daughter, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to be bus riders. Every story she told seemed to begin with what bus she caught and how long it took her to get there, and ended with the buses she rode to get home.

Talk about an OBC! Young (and middle-aged) bus chicks, bow down.

On Tuesday, I finally had a chance to see Beulah Dyer’s bus shelter in person.

Bus stop memorial

 

 

 

 

 

Bus stop memorial - side view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beulah plus one

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beulah solo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beulah with a bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After visiting Mrs. Dyer’s stomping grounds and seeing the photos on the shelter, I wanted to know more about her: what her hobbies were, the hardships and triumphs she experienced, her favorite color and food. I searched the Internet but was only able to find this 2001 news story about her 80th birthday celebration, which was held on the 65.

Metro Transit and Dyer’s family threw a surprise 80th birthday party on the Route 65 bus. The guests included King County Executive Ron Sims and Metro General Manager Rick Walsh.

She guessed something was happening when her son, sister, brother, sister-in-law and two adult granddaughters showed up at her bus stop when she was leaving University Village.

“I don’t know what you’re up to but it had better not be a stripper,” she said.

Ten blocks before her stop, Sims led a parade of celebrants onto the articulated bus. Her favorite driver, Gregory Nash, carried the cake.

Metro leaders learned about Dyer’s loyalty when her granddaughter, Jahna Dyer, wrote a letter to thank them for taking such good care of her grandmother.

Sims and Walsh presented Dyer with flowers, a certificate, Metro commuter mug, umbrella and an insulated lunch bag. Metro’s uniform supplier threw in a green Metro cardigan sweater.

If I ride the bus for 40 more years, can I get a Metro cardigan? Seriously. I have been trying to figure out how to get my hands on one of those for at least a decade. And just to put it out there in the universe, I won’t be mad if there’s a stripper involved. Kidding! (Sort of.)

But I digress.

My grandma moved to Seattle in the early 1930s. Though her experiences—as a black woman living in the Central Area–were certainly significantly different than Mrs. Dyer’s, the two women shared in common a love of buses. My father, who was born in 1939, spent his childhood riding streetcars and trolley buses in this town and has many stories of the velvety seats, the sounds the vehicles made, and how the drivers would help his mother on and off when he and his siblings were small.

When I was growing up, I remember wondering why my grandma always insisted on walking and busing to get around, even when others were willing—would, in fact, have preferred—to give her a ride. Now, I am in her shoes: trying to explain that yes, I really do want to take the bus, and no, it’s not (usually) a hardship or an inconvenience; it is part of who I am.

If I am given the gift of long life, I hope it will remain so.

Bus riders have sense

Stop sense, n: The ability to detect when one’s transit destination is approaching without looking out the window or at the digital display at the front of the vehicle; a subconscious awareness of the location of one’s transit stop.

Not to brag (ahem), but I have a highly developed stop sense. When I was nine, I would automatically wake up from bus naps about a block before it was time for me to ring the bell. These days, I can feel my stop approaching no matter where I’m looking or how many children I’m managing.

But yesterday, I started rereading Sula on a solo ride home from the Eastside. I was four stops past mine before I even looked up.

The transfer trade

Transfer trade, n: The system of exchanging bus tickets, paper transfers, and bus passes for money or other items of value.

One thing I love about public transit is the mini economy that develops among riders. There’s always something for sale on buses and at stops: watches, flowers, cigarettes, tickets, candy. And, of course, transfers.

Though much more common before Orca cards became the norm for payment, the transfer trade is alive and well in Seattle. So are the many related practices. Some examples: “passing back” a transfer or pass to someone behind you in line, collecting and reusing expired transfers. (I once met a man at the 3rd & Pine stop who had an entire notebook of them—meticulously organized by color, letter, and time of day. If only his powers could have been used for good…)

And then there are the exchanges. On yesterday afternoon’s 27 ride, Busling and I watched a man trade two bus tickets for a bottle of Lubriderm. It seemed like a fair exchange, given the price of a bus ride these days. Plus, you never know when you might have a lotion emergency.

Eastbound 4, 3:05 PM

A bus-wide discussion about how hot everyone is (par for the course on any [non-air-conditioned] Seattle bus on any day above 80 degrees) is in full swing before we even reach Harborview. Folks express all the usual (uninteresting) weather-related sentiments, until a middle-aged man sitting directly behind the driver adds his two cents.

“I’m about to go home and get naked. Yep, I’m going to get naked with a little, tiny fan.”

Happy birthday, Chicklet!

It’s been four years since I brought my sweet girl into the world—and home on the 4.

Yesterday, I was in a nostalgic mood, so I reread my post from her first birthday. People, my baby has been around.

In her first year of life, my child has ridden the following routes:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 27, 36, 41, 44, 48, 54, 55, 56, 60, 66, 70, 74, 134, 150, 174, 194, 230, 255, 358, 545, 550, 554, 590–not to mention the Monorail, Puyallup Fair shuttle, Elliott Bay Water Taxi, Detroit People Mover, Amtrak, Portland Streetcar, and a few Portland bus routes.

It’s just a reminder of how much ground you can cover with only one. I know for sure that Busling didn’t ride that many routes in his first year. I’m not sure he has yet.

I digress.

Since her last birthday celebration, Chicklet has taken a big step in her journey as a BCiT: She started reading! (Well, not reading reading, but sounding out words. It counts.) Soon, I’ll be spending my bus rides kicking back while my little chip off the big chick does the entertaining. In the meantime, I’m enjoying watching her become who she is: a train chick, for those who were wondering. (See self-selected train engineer costume–minus the hat–above.)

Of course, four years of good livin’ for our baby girl = four years of bus parenting for Bus Nerd and me. We’ve learned a lot, and I’ve done my best to share some of it. In case you’re not up for reading an entire category of posts, here are a few of the highlights.

Why public transportation is good for kids
The sane person’s guide to taking kids on public transit
How riding the bus will make your kid smarter
What I’ve learned in my first year as a bus parent
What I’ve learned in my second year as a bus parent
Busing with two babies, part I
Busing with two babies, part II
Busing with two babies, part III

Happy day, baby girl. Thank you for the amazing ride.

More glossary excavation (or, relief from all the baby talk)

Recently, I found myself sitting at a coffee shop a few feet from one of my bus crushes from back in the day. It reminded me of this post (and this one)—and of the whole bus crush phenomenon.

Bus crush, n:

1. Feelings of overwhelming admiration–occasionally, though not necessarily, of a romantic nature–for a fellow passenger; excessive interest in, or curiosity about, a fellow passenger.
2. The object of such admiration or interest.

My biggest bus crush was (and still is) Bus Nerd, but I have minor bus crushes–on women, men, young, old, passengers, drivers–all the time. There was the mother-daughter team that used to ride my morning 48 to Montlake Elementary. The mother: in her early thirties; pretty; with flawless chocolate skin, a simple, pulled-back hairstyle, and a great fashion sense. Her daughter: an eight-year old, curly-headed BCiT who reminded me of myself when I was a young bus chick, minus the awkwardness, the shyness, and the “summer haircut” (a post for another time, my friends), and plus a rather unfortunate fondness for pink. I stopped seeing them years ago, but fortunately, I have my own little BCiT to ride with these days. There are the three siblings–a big brother, a little brother, and a baby sister–I see all over the city, on several bus routes and sometimes walking, never with parents. The big brother is in charge, looking after and scolding the younger two, and I make up all kinds of romantic stories about this threesome, most of which involve variations on a Party of Five theme. There is Georgiana, the cool grandma and 27 regular I finally met this year at my precinct caucus, after years of admiring her from afar. And of course, there is Smooth Jazz.

Your turn. Ever had a bus crush?

Back to the glossary

I’ve neglected my bus glossary for a minute (OK, three years–last entry was May, 2008) and have really been meaning to return some focus to transit terminology. Fortunately, my Saturday 17 ride (home from celebrating my brother’s birthday) provided some much-needed inspiration.

The gentleman sitting directly behind me used one of my favorite transit terms, “bus legs,” in a conversation with his seat mate*. I wasn’t able to hear the context, given the general noise level on the bus (and the fact that I was trying to accommodate competing story requests from my tiny travel companions), but I’m guessing it was related to the heavy traffic and somewhat erratic driving. (What is it about the 17 and erratic driving?)

“Bus legs” is a term I use often but have never bothered to formally define. So, for those who don’t know:

Bus legs, n: The ability to effectively balance oneself while standing or walking on a moving bus, no matter how unpredictable the traffic or inexperienced the driver. Ex. I’ve got bus legs, so I don’t need to hold on.

I guess that’s one way to ride the wave.

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* Speaking of transit terminology, there’s got to be a better way to describe the person you sit next to on a bus or train.