Tag Archives: living the life

The new “it” bus pastime

This morning, a young woman got on the 8 with her knitting and sparked a bus-wide discussion. It started with the old ladies sitting near her in the front, then spread to the women further back, and eventually, to the punk-rock guy sitting next to me in the third row. Folks wanted to know what she was making (a scarf–it’s the only thing she’s mastered in two years of lessons) and how long it had taken her (two months so far). I got off mid-discussion, so I missed her tales of adventures in crocheting.

Last night, on the 48, I sat across from a middle-aged woman knitting a sweater. And at least twice a week, I see someone (usually a youngish woman) knitting something on the 545. (I have yet to see a man doing it–on the bus, anyway–but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.) Knitting, it appears, is enjoying a bit of a renaissance, and its prevalence on buses is as sure a sign as any.

Anyone else been seeing (or doing) any bus knitting of late?

27+554+271=disappointed Bus Nerd

Today we took a trip to a Wolverine den in Issaquah for the big game. It didn’t go as well as Bus Nerd and his fellow alums had hoped, but at least I got to check out the new and improved Eastgate Park & Ride.

And then, on the 271 back to Seattle, there were the two old guys sitting in the front, trading stories of ailments and listening wistfully to the celebratory noises from the group of young men heading out for the night.

Old guy 1: “When I hear those young guys laughing, it makes me think, ‘They don’t know what’s in store.'”
Old guy 2: “No sir–they don’t know what’s comin’.”
Old guy 1: “If they did, they’d … jump off a cliff or something.”

A bus stop face-off

Montlake Freeway Station, 8:45 AM:

A very large man in a (very red) Ohio State sweatshirt is standing in the shelter when we arrive. Bus Nerd, a (runner-slim) UM grad, defiantly unzips his jacket to reveal a Michigan fleece.

Bus Nerd, to me: “The battle lines are drawn.”

On the bus, looking fabulous

I’m heading out to a party tonight (27+28), despite the fact that I’ve been under the weather since Monday. (Red wine might be just the medicine I need.) In honor, last week’s Real Change column:

I have great empathy for my fellow Seattleites who are struggling to shake their addiction to cars. I know quite well how difficult it is to kick a powerful habit. How? Because, dear readers, I, too, struggle with an addiction — to my flat iron.

That perfectly smooth, bone-straight look I’m rockin’ in the picture next to my byline? That look required a potentially lethal appliance, a parting comb, at least a dozen hair clips, and far too much of my precious time. Any contact with water will make short work of my efforts, which is a problem, considering that my chosen form of transportation requires frequent exposure to the elements, and the element I am exposed to most frequently is rain.

Does this confirm the suspicions of many women I know — that a girl must exchange her style for the benefits a bus-based life? Nope. We bus chicks can be just as fabulous as our car-dependent counterparts (more, even), provided we’re willing to prepare ourselves accordingly.

The first priority is to find a hairstyle that can withstand our challenging climate. What works for each bus chick is different, but the key is low maintenance. I’ve learned to limit the straight styles to sunny weather and special occasions. On most days, I either embrace (with the help of some good leave-in conditioner) the naturally curly Carla, or opt for a simple, sexy chignon.

And speaking of sexy…

What bus chicks lack in elaborate hair styles, we make up for in other areas. For example, because we get exercise naturally — walking to and from stops and running to catch buses — we tend to have fit bodies. Fit bodies look good in just about anything, including bus-friendly gear like jeans and boots.

And speaking of boots…

While all that walking and running might be good for our bodies, it’s not so good for our footwear. Polish can remove scuff marks, but scuff marks are the least of a bus chick’s worries. Nothing ruins the appearance of shoes like worn-down heels. Thankfully, there’s a solution: taps. (Get the rubber kind to avoid announcing your approach from three blocks away.) Of course, when your outfit demands shoes that aren’t walk-friendly (taps or not), you can wear reasonable substitutes for the trip and carry the cute pair in your bag.

And speaking of bags…

Fellow bus chicks, walk softly (on your rubber taps) but carry a big purse — and not just for your extra shoes. In addition to your day-to-day necessities (wallet, cell phone, keys, book), you’ll need it for your umbrella, natural-bristle brush (to smooth the chignon), lotion (to apply after public-bathroom hand-washing adventures), and unflattering waterproof jacket. For those fancy occasions that require a small purse, bring a bus nerd along to help with carrying. If you follow these guidelines, you won’t have any trouble attracting one.

What’s hot (or at least not cold) this November

Hot: Bus shelters with glass walls
Not: Shelters with no walls–or the mesh replacements that the let the wind in
Really not: Stops without shelters

Hot: Buses with working heaters (and drivers who turn them on)
Not: Buses with broken heaters
Really not: Passengers who open windows on days you can see your breath

Hot: Stylish, waterproof gloves that allow for maximum dexterity
Not: Big ol’, cumbersome mittens
Really not: Forgetting gloves or mittens on the bus

Cold morning, late bus

This month, I’ve been helping out a friend with a project that has required me to make several trips to Ballard. Normally, I take the 27 (or the 4) downtown and then catch the 17 or 18, but this morning I broke my rule about transferring (choose the itinerary that provides the most options at the transfer point) and tried the 48+44 route that Trip Planner suggested. I let love (wanted to ride the 48 with Bus Nerd like I usually do) and curiosity (never ridden the 44 before) get in the way of my own good sense, and I paid the price with a windy, 40-minute wait at 15th & 42nd.

Apparently, there was a major accident somewhere on the route, and the bus I finally caught was over an hour behind schedule. By the time we got to Fremont, there was a 44 right behind us, so the driver started passing folks up, even (and especially) little old ladies with walkers. Did I mention it was one of those old-school trolleys, with a broken heater and leaky windows?

On Thursday, I’m taking the 17.

A repeat performance

In January, I wrote:

Yesterday, in the spirit of celebrating the Seahawks’ first playoff win in over 20 years, DBH [known to PI readers as Bus Nerd] and I decided to brave the rain and go out to one of our favorite restaurants. As we waited for the bus after dinner, I noticed a half-eaten bag of chips on the ledge underneath the display window of a neighboring store. I would have assumed it was litter, but the bag was rolled down neatly and placed out of the direct sight of passersby, as if someone had left it there for safekeeping. I found it odd enough to point out to DBH.

Our bus driver for the evening was a man we recognized from another route–one that takes us to a doughnut/coffee shop we like. The stop where we got on is at the end of the line, and there is usually a short layover between the end of one run and the beginning of another. He let us on the bus and then got off, returning a few moments later with his mouth covered in crumbs and his hand buried deep in the very bag of chips I had just noticed on the ledge.

I will leave you to furnish your own explanation.

Last night, we took the 14 to Top Pot (the doughnut/coffee shop mentioned above) and saw none other than the chip-eating driver. This was not especially surprising, since, on the days he drives the 14, he always announces the Top Pot stop, and sometimes, he drops in to grab a snack on his layover. Last night he was apparently off duty, so he ate in. While the rest of us gobbled sugary, greasy confections, the chip-eating driver partook of: an orange. As far as I know, Top Pot doesn’t even sell oranges.

Perhaps he had stashed it on a nearby ledge.

More on children and buses

Way back in June, Sean98125 posed this question:

“Just out of curiosity – how many of the dedicated non-car owners here are raising kids?”

Recently, I asked my friend Coby (aka Bus Chick’s favorite rock star) to weigh in. Coby was a bus-based dad for several years and has only recently begun using a car (a gift from a friend who no longer needed it), so he’s well qualified to speak on the subject. Here’s what he had to say:

As far as the bus-based life with a kid goes, it’s obviously a bit less convenient than just jumping in a car, but I did it for 5 years and it worked pretty well. The key is to live in a good location. We’re near 55th and 25th, so we’re close to the U-district hub of bus routes, we’re midway between North Seattle and Cap Hill/CD, we’re ten minutes walking from QFC and Safeway, and ten minutes or so from the Ave, so everything we need is either walkable or easily accessed via bus. Groceries were difficult, but the boy is getting stronger, and so recently I’ve been loading him up as much as is ethical. Also, if you miss a bus and have to wait a long time, you have to make sure your kid has something to do to occupy him or her until the next bus comes (Nate has an iPod).

I miss the purely car free life. A prime example of why was on Halloween. We walked down to U-Village to get Nate’s costume, (I’d procrastinated). His main trick or treating was to be done at U-Village, as it’s so convenient to go from shop to shop rather than trekking up and down the blocks of the neighborhood in the cold. I’d forgotten the camera and we went back home to get it. We would have walked back, but I was pressed for time to go to the wedding reception. So, to save time, we drove to U-Village, and then spent five minutes circling and looking for parking because the lots were packed. The time saved driving was offset by the time spent looking for parking. A car is equal parts convenience and hassle.

I also asked him how his son, Nathan, liked the bus–whether he thought it was cool or wanted to ride in a car with the other kids.

When Nathan was 5 and 6 he loved the bus more than the car, and still likes it. He loved reading the schedules, and he loved looking out the window and getting a chance to pull the cord or push the tape. He was amused and excited by how much everything vibrated and bounced and shook, I think it felt like an amusement park ride to him. Now he likes them equally I think, as the bus has all the cool stuff it always had, but the car has a CD player.

Coby and Nathan
Coby and Nathan on Halloween

P.S. – If you’re interested in learning how a family of five gets along without a car, check out Alan Durning’s blog.

If only those layovers lasted a little longer

Yesterday, I caught a late-evening 55 at the layover location at the beginning (or end, depending on which way you’re going) of the route. The driver was on a break–chillin’ inside the bus with the doors closed, deeply engrossed in a book. He was so engrossed, in fact, that he didn’t notice me standing at the stop. He kept reading right up until it was time for him to take off, then closed the book and started pulling away without opening the doors. I caught him before he got away, but I wasn’t nearly as concerned about being left behind as I was about getting in his business. Being the book nerd that I am, I had to know what had captured his attention like that.

“What are you reading?” I asked, as soon as he had finished apologizing.
“I am from Ethiopia,” he said. “I am reading a history of my country.”
“What a coincidence,” I said. “So am I.”

Rule reinforcement

On my way home today, I had the rare good fortune to find an open double seat on the westbound 545. The seat was just a few rows back from the reserved section, a perfect location–except that it happened to be directly in front of one occupied by two of the funkiest individuals (stale cigarettes + alcohol + BO) ever to ride the route. I had to hold my breath (with the exception of a few desperate gasps inside my jacket) all the way to Montlake.

Note to self…