Last night we rode the 26 up to Fremont to watch my friend Coby‘s band, The Goats, play at the Dubliner. The show was excellent, and it’s a good thing, since it took a bit of doing for us to get there.
Fremont is not a common destination for me, so I didn’t pay much attention to Metro’s reroute announcements when the bridge construction started back in May. I should have.
By the time we realized we had missed our stop (which, it turns out, is currently closed), we were almost at 65th–and, I might add, the only people left on the bus. We had to take another 26 back to 40th & Aurora, and then (thank God Bus Nerd installed Pocket Streets on his phone) navigate our way through the fun maze of crooked intersections, extra-long crosswalks, and pedestrian underpasses to our destination–thankfully, in time for the show.
Coby (aka ‘Bus Chick’s favorite rock star’) is also a full-time bus rider.
Coby’s performance was worth all the effort (and then some), but I definitely (re)learned a few lessons:
1) On routes you don’t ride regularly, never assume you’ll “recognize” your stop–especially if you’re going somewhere at night. Find out the exact location in advance.
2) Until Metro provides a system map that includes all the street names, carry a city map in your bus chick bag–or make sure it’s installed on one of your electronic devices.
3) In case you forget to follow rules 1 and 2: A well-prepared bus nerd can come in handy in a pinch.
We bus chicks tend to (quite literally) walk our behinds off. While all this walking might be good for our bodies, it’s not so good for our footwear. After all, there are only so many times a girl can replace the heels on her favorite pair of boots.
Recently, I mentioned this problem to my friend Arif, a fellow bus rider who also happens to have one of the most amazing collections of shoes I have ever seen. Arif walks almost as much as I do, but his shoes always look like he just took them out of the box. His secret? Well, there’s the fact that he has enough pairs to limit repeating (a tactic this bus chick envies but does not condone). And then there’s the secret that his shoe-loving daddy passed down: taps. Arif puts rubber taps on all his shoes. They prevent the heel from wearing down, are fairly easy to replace, and because they’re rubber, have the added benefit of muffling sound.
I can’t wait to try some on those boots.
Every once in a while, I ride the bus with someone I find extremely compelling–and I don’t mean in the hot guy sort of way. Sometimes, they are beautiful people–handsome men or cute kids or women I admire. Mostly, though, they are folks I’d like to talk to–because they’re reading a good book, or wearing something cool, or just generally giving off an interesting vibe.
Today I rode the 8 with an old man who looked so much like my (deceased) grandpa I couldn’t take my eyes off him. It’s a good thing he got off shortly after I got on; I was this close to telling him so.
Because I am shy, nosy, and able to simultaneously process information from multiple sources, I am well-suited to one of my favorite bus-riding pastimes: eavesdropping. I am an expert eavesdropper. In fact, I am the Queen of Eavesdroppers. That is, as long as everyone I’m eavesdropping on is speaking English.
Despite my early plans to become a polyglot, the only foreign language I can speak well enough to claim (thanks to a few childhood years in Morocco and many years of study in the States) is French. Unfortunately, though I am able to carry on reasonable conversations, my French eavesdropping skills are pretty poor–so poor, in fact, that when I was in Paris last year, I was constantly frustrated by my inability to immerse myself in my fellow Metro riders’ business.
The Luxembourg Metro/RER station in Paris, where I first failed at French eavesdropping
This morning, as luck would have it, I was presented with an unexpected chance to practice my international listening skills. Two men sitting across from me on the 545 were having a full-on French conversation, and (oh, happy bus ride!) I understood it. Funny how that language can make an otherwise uninteresting exchange about office moves and South Lake Union condo purchases sound so sophisticated and fabulous.
Oh yeah–while I was disembarking, I caught the beginning of a more typical 545 conversation:
Hipster-geek 1: “Hey man. How’s it goin’?”
Hipster geek 2: “Other than the fact that my web server crapped out compiling ASP this morning, life is good.”
Bus rule #1:
If your morning bus to work is late–really late–and you wait for what seems like forever (hours surely), and when it finally arrives, it is bursting-at-the-seams crowded, so packed with people that you can remain upright without holding on (if, that is, you don’t mind making a few friends on the ride), you will be rewarded, upon disembarking, with the sight of another bus, the same route number, but articulated this time, whizzing past your crowded bus–completely empty.
Bus rule #2:
If there is a person on your bus who is behaving oddly (speaking to an imaginary friend or prophesying the earth’s imminent demise or removing required articles of clothing), everyone else on the bus will stare straight ahead (or out the window, or at their books) and pretend that the person in question is not acting a stone fool–unless, that is, some of those “everyone elses” are the masters of public humiliation we know as teenage girls.
Tonight, Busnerd and I attended the Transportation Choices Coalition‘s annual auction (also known as the “who’s who” of transit nerds) at Triple Door. Good fun.
After the event, we hopped on the 4 and headed home. That’s where the real fun began. Traffic on 3rd was being rerouted because of some kind of accident or blockage between Cherry and James. Of course, rerouting a trolley is no joke, since trolleys are powered by wires that run on a predefined route. The 4 heads east on James, so the driver had to go around: He turned right on Cherry, coasted down the hill to 2nd, turned left, and then continued to coast to the intersection at James. We waited at the intersection for about seven minutes until a “push truck” arrived and pushed us up James to the other side of 3rd. By the time we got there, the blockage had been removed, so we probably would have been better off waiting it out. But then, I wouldn’t have been able to take this (not-so-good) picture of a push truck:
Last night, I met my brother Jeremy (aka Saulty) at The Apartment after work. On my walk from the bus stop, a man stopped me and asked, in very broken English, how to get to the airport. I don’t know if the man had highly sensitive buschick-dar or is just very lucky, but either way, he came to the right place.
I walked him to the 194 stop on 2nd & Pike and in the process learned:
• He is from Turkey.
• He spent the summer working in a cannery in Alaska.
• He wanted to see Seattle before he returned home.
• Seattle is a beautiful and fabulous city (wait–I already knew that), despite the expensive lodging. (According to my new friend, even the hostels downtown are too high.)
I also learned that my brother does not like to be kept waiting on a chilly street in Belltown on Friday night. Wait, I already knew that, too.
Bus Chick and Saulty last month, on a day Bus Chick was on time
On Saturday, on the 48, I sat behind a man transporting case of a certain poultry-inspired brand of bourbon. That stuff ain’t cheap. Perhaps he’d recently visited the coin-counting machine at his credit union.
For some reason I have yet to understand, Bus Nerd has entirely too much change. Everywhere he goes, change follows. It is in his pants pockets, in his coat pockets, in his busnerd bag. If you’re ever short bus fare, search the cushions of a couch he has recently sat on; you’re sure to find at least a couple of trips’ worth. And don’t get me started on his (former) bedroom. His spare-change jar filled up at least a year ago, subsequently overflowing onto his nightstand and into his most recent ad-hoc container, a plastic bag on the floor.
Last Thursday, to prevent this change from overflowing its way into our current bedroom, I offered to take it to the free coin-counting machine at the credit union near my office. The plan was to stop there on my way to work, which would have been an unremarkable errand–except that I am a bus chick, and the change I offered to carry weighed almost 35 pounds. Despite Busnerd’s warnings and admonishments, I carried the money in my backpack, along with my laptop and other bus chick necessities, for the entire 15-mile (two buses plus a very long walk) trip. Fortunately, I managed to remain upright for the journey, and I was rewarded at its end. The change added up to $360. I think I’ll use it to buy Busnerd an extra-large piggy bank.
Of course, a 35-pound backpack full of change is far from the oddest thing I’ve carried on the bus. Last month, I carried my wedding dress home on the 27, to the dismay of the clerk at the fancy shop that made it. A couple of Thanksgivings ago, I rode the 3 with a still-warm fried turkey.
And those are just the two of the many. Anyone else carried something odd/unwieldy/embarrassing on the bus?
The wedding festivities are over and done with, and Busnerd (aka Mr. Bus Chick) and I are taking a lot of naps. Whew! Getting married is exhausting. We are grateful for Flexcar (used my membership quite a bit in the past 10 days), but I am happy to be back in my normal bus groove.
For those who asked: We did have a “wedding bus.” We rented an old-school Seattle Transit bus from MEHVA (Metro Employees Historic Vehicle Association) to transport guests from the ceremony to the reception. The bus also picked up out-of-towners at a downtown hotel. This, combined with the scheduling of all other wedding-related events within walking distance of the hotel, made it possible (in theory, anyway) for folks to make the trip without renting a car. Thanks to MEHVA’s volunteer drivers for making it happen.
I don’t have many pics yet, but here are some my father-in-law took of us next to the bus. As you can see (I hope–I compressed them a lot to preserve server space), I was anxious to get going.