Tag Archives: Joelie

Chicklet and the 27, part II

On Wednesday, as Chicklet and I settled into a seat on our favorite route, an elderly woman I had never seen before sat down next to us, looked at Chicklet like she knew her, and said, “I just saw your uncle over at the University of Washington.”

I was about to tell her that she had us confused with another bus riding mother-daughter team when she said, “I had to get a few x-rays and some work on my crown.”

Aha! She had indeed seen Chicklet’s uncle, my brother Joel, an almost-dentist who sees patients at the UW’s dental clinic. But how did she know that? Good question.

Around this time last year, Joel told me he had a patient who knew me. “I see her on the bus sometimes,” she had told him. “Isn’t she expecting?”

Back then, I wondered briefly how the woman had known Joel and I were related (we don’t look that much alike–do we?) and then forgot about it. Until Wednesday, that is, when I came face to face with this same patient, a bus chick whose powers of observation put my own to shame. (She’s got a few years on me, but still.)

Her name is Ida (I should say Miss Ida, as she is my elder, and I don’t know her last), and she recently returned from a trip to Arkansas to visit family. She rides the 27 and the 48 (among many others) and sees Nerd, Chicklet, and me out and about around the neighborhood. She even knows which church we attend. Miss Ida is enjoying the summer and doesn’t mind the heat at all, especially compared to what she dealt with in Arkansas. Her July Sears bill apparently got lost in the vacation-mail shuffle, so she was headed to the store (off at 3rd and Yesler, transfer to the 21) to pay it in person. She never, ever pays bills late.

Chicklet pulled out all her best tricks to impress our new friend (some of her favorites: clapping like crazy and hitting herself on the head) and was rewarded with an appreciative cheek-pinch as Miss Ida stood to go.

“It was good to finally meet you,” she said to both of us.

Oh, yes. Yes it was.

Not even candy paint and big wheels can compare.

Candy paint ain’t just for cars

My little brother, Joel, a third-year dental student at the University of Washington, recently returned from a trip to Port au Prince, Haiti, where he donated his time (mostly pulling teeth and filling cavities) to people who don’t have access to dental care.

On Thursday night, Joel came over to show us pictures of his trip. Because he was visiting me, these included lots of pictures of Haitian buses. They’re called “tap-taps” (pronounced “top-tops”) by the people there, and they are amazingly beautiful. Check it:

A tap-tap in Port au Prince
A tap-tap in Port au Prince

Here’s what I was able to find out about tap-taps online:

Camionettes” (which literally means small trucks) also known as “Tap-Taps”, play an important role in Haitian public transportation.

… the body is made of wood or metal. The body is usually the work of several professionals: carpenter, blacksmith, electrician, painter…

It is the artist who gives to the ‘camionette’ all of its beauty. The artists paint all types of images using a mixture of colors. This is what allows us to say that “Tap-Taps” are not just a means of transportation, but also symbolize the Haitian appreciation of cultural and artistic values.


On the fronts and backs of the ‘Tap Taps”, there is always a space for written messages. There, you will usually find words of thanks (‘Thank you God’, ‘Thank you Virgin Mary’, etc), or other religious phrases (‘Blessed be the Lord’, ‘Long Live Jesus’, ‘Holy Altagrace’, ‘Papa Legba‘…), or words of love, etc

(Source: HaitiXchange)

A Benz-themed tap-tap
A Benz-themed tap tap
Tupac on a tap-tap
Tupac lives!
Don't giv-up (Photo credit: Mark Schutte)
“Don’t giv-up”

I found this last message especially moving , particularly given the historical (and very recent) injustices perpetrated on Haitians.

I’ve always admired my brother for his choice to go into dentistry. He’s developing skills that he can use to make a living and to give back to the world. (Would that I had such skills!) I’ve never been prouder of him.

Joel and some new friends (Photo credit: Mark Schutte)
The future Dr. Saulter with some of his patients