Tag Archives: Smooth Jazz

On busing and baby sharing

Yesterday, after tiring of the wait for my six-, then eight-, then ten-, then twelve-minute late 27, I resorted to the 4. I was immediately glad I did, despite the fact that the bus was (per usual) extra crowded, and I ended up standing in the no man’s land with poor pole access.

You see, Smooth Jazz was at the wheel.

Riding on Smooth Jazz’s bus always feels a bit like a celebrity sighting for me. (Not surprisingly, many of the people I consider “celebrities” are bus drivers.) As soon as we finished our excruciating creep up James, he turned on his trademark mellow music. (One of these days, I’m going to start making requests.) By then, I had a seat, and a view of all the goodness that was taking place around me: Small talk. Flirtations. Coworker gossip. Laughter.

A man got on a few stops past Harborview with a box of various goodies, including fruit and some Easter-related toys. Across from him was a woman with infant twins and an older girl, who was probably around eight. The mother was holding one of the babies on her lap while her daughter struggled with the other. The double stroller was stowed awkwardly nearby in the wheelchair area.

Before Box Man had been on a full block, he offered some of the toys to the girl, gesturing to the babies to indicate that the gifts were to be shared. The girl looked to her mother for approval before accepting, then held the toys at arms’ length, either out of amazement at her good fortune or healthy suspicion.

A few minutes later, the mother rang the bell for my stop, so I offered my assistance getting everything–stroller, babies, big kid, bag, and new toys–off the bus. She matter-of-factly handed me a chubby, sweet-smelling baby and proceeded to gather her things. Together–each of us balancing a little one on a hip–we maneuvered the double stroller contraption down the bus steps and set it on the sidewalk, stowed the new toys, and strapped everyone in. Then, we headed in our respective directions.

It is likely that I will never see that woman or her children again. It is even more likely that in two months, or a year, or five years, I will forget the beautiful surprise (the gift!) of being handed a stranger’s precious baby, of cooperating with her to overcome a challenge I know well. Of smelling that sweet chubby cheek for a few moments at the end of a challenging day, on my way to see my own precious (not so) babies. (Chicklet’s about to be in Kindergarten, people!)

But whether these experiences are remembered consciously is not particularly important. (This is a good thing, since my memory has been basically shot since I was busing while pregnant the first time.) It is these daily interactions that inform who I am and how I view my community. Sometimes, they change my perspective. Often, they deepen my compassion or my gratitude. Always, they make an impression.

Despite all the drama-filled, funky rides I’ve endured (Woman on the 14, I feel you!), despite all the annoyances, despite even the looming cuts, I cannot imagine life any other way.

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?

A bus contest!

Think you ride America’s best bus route? Submit a photo and brief description to this contest (sponsored by Good Magazine and NYC’s Transportation Alternatives), and you could win a fabulous prize package!

What is it about your bus route that you love? Is your bus driver brilliant? Is the view from your window breathtaking? Do your fellow riders characters belong in a Hemingway novel?

the OBJECTIVE
Show and tell us why your bus route is the best in America.

the ASSIGNMENT
Take a photo with your camera phone (no fancy cameras please) and send it to us with a 140 character or less caption by Wednesday, November 10.

the REQUIREMENTS
Photos should be taken with camera phones and each caption should include the location and route. Please include your name and the best way to reach you.

Email your entry to: busroutes@goodinc.com
Tweet your entry to: @GOOD and use the hashtag #bestbusride
[More details here]

I would totally enter my Smooth Jazz ride, except that I’m one of the judges. (I think I’ve died and gone to bus chick heaven.) Get those entries in, folks!

Thanks (again) for the ride!

Tomorrow is Bus Driver Appreciation Day. (Two holidays in one week!) Since last year, I’ve learned that Metro drivers are not allowed to accept gifts, but (as far as I know) there’s no rule against letting your favorite drivers know their hard work matters to you.

So thanks, Busfather, Smooth Jazz, DJ, and all the others, for getting me there–and for keeping me entertained on the ride.

Happiness is…

Sliding onto the 4 in a basic black dress and your favorite vintage shoes* after an evening of Dwele and chocolate cake at Triple Door with your love, only to find that that 4 is being driven by none other than Smooth Jazz, who’s broadcasting just the right tunes to help you (and your love) continue the Triple Door/Dwele vibe all the way home.

* We won’t speak of the incident running for–and almost missing–the 27 (pregnant!) in said vintage shoes on the way to Triple Door.

Another cool bus tool

A couple of months back, Ron from Queen Anne (a fellow 3/4 rider and fan of Smooth Jazz) sent me a link to a website that I’ve just gotten around to checking out. (So far, I’ve only had time for a cursory evaluation, so all of my observations should be considered with that in mind.) The site’s called One Bus Away, and it’s basically MyBus with a few improvements:

• Arrival info for every bus stop, not just a few timepoints.
• A telephone number you can call to quickly get real-time arrival info when you’re waiting at your stop.
• An updated website that makes it easier to find arrival info when you’re waiting at home.
• Enhanced mobile tools for iPhones, text-messaging and other mobile devices.

The phone number is useful for those of us who don’t walk around with our faces in PDAs (a la Bus Nerd) and are too cheap to pay for Internet service on our phones. The system works like Metro’s automated schedule information line, except it provides–hallelujah!– real-time information. Like Metro’s schedule line, it helps you identify your stop number if you don’t know it, but the process is necessarily tedious. It works best for stops you use often enough to memorize the number.

One Bus Away’s other claim to fame is the fact that it provides information for every stop in Metro’s system. This is definitely cool. As for the other stuff:

I’m not sure how the SMS option differs from the one MyBus offers–MyBus’s query actually seems easier to type–and while the website may be easier to use than MyBus, I wouldn’t call it easy. (To be fair, the person who created this site is a grad student donating his time, and–as Bus Nerd can attest–Metro doesn’t expose its data in the most bus-tool-developer-friendly manner.)

Bottom line: One Bus Away is worth checking out. Thanks for the tip, Ron!

A good driver day

Southbound 48, 2 PM: The man behind the wheel turned out to be the same man a longtime family friend brought to my nuptials, lo, those many (oh, was it only two?) years ago. I don’t actually know him, and until that ride, I had no idea he was a bus driver.

Tandy, props for your good taste in dates. How often does a bus chick get the chance to say to a driver, “Hey, I think you were a guest at my wedding!”

Eastbound 4, 8:30 PM: I rode with Smooth Jazz for the first time in almost a year. (The last time he was my driver, I think I was still busing while pregnant.) On this particular ride, he was dispensing his cool while politely fending off a rather forceful passenger-on-driver bus mack. Can’t say I blame the woman. If it weren’t for my amazingly fabulous Bus Nerd, I’d have a crush on Smooth Jazz.

Another glossary update

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?

A bus chick’s version of a good day

This morning, I stopped by the County Courthouse to see some demos of the partially wrapped buses. (The Council tabled the vote on whether to allow the partial wraps, so these demos were made available to help the members come to a decision. Members of the Transit Advisory Committee and the Accessible Services Advisory Committee were also invited to take a look.)

The partial wraps leave 15″ clear on every bus window. This looks different on different buses, depending on the size of the windows and the height of the seats. (I apologize in advance for the quality of these pictures; I have yet to replace my broken camera.)

Here’s what a partially wrapped trolley looks like:

Demo of a partially wrapped trolley

Note: There aren’t any real ads designed for this template yet, so the folks at Metro just removed some of the vinyl from an existing ad.

Here’s a New Flyer 40-footer:

Demo of a partially wrapped 40 footer

In this case, instead of altering an existing wrap, they covered the parts of the windows that would be obscured by the ad.

Here’s the view from inside the trolley:

View from inside a partially wrapped trolley

And from the other side:

View from inside a partially wrapped trolley

Anyone recognize the man in the red circle? Yes indeed, Busfather was there as the official driver of the 40-footer. He got to hang out for a couple of hours while the bigwigs (and regular folks like me) checked things out. Not a bad gig for a sunny Monday.

Anirudh, aka Bus Hero, who also happens to be one of my fellow TAC members, was also there.

Anirudh on the trolley:

Anirudh on the partially wrapped trolley

So was my councilmember, Larry Gossett:

Larry Gossett on the partially wrapped trolley

Y’all already know how I feel about bus revenue: I’m inclined to endure a little obscured vision every once in a while if it means more service. The good news is, the partially wrapped buses don’t obscure your vision. I could see out of all the windows, even when I hunched down to make myself shorter. (Of course, I’m not sure how a child riding alone or a person in a wheelchair would do. I’ll leave the latter to the folks at the Accessible Services Advisory Committee.)

Bottom line: We (OK, I) likey. Councilmembers, please vote “yes.”

After the bus viewing, a lovely lunch at the Gates Foundation with my friend Char (which involved a slowish ride on the 70), and a quick trip to the Real Change office, I happened upon Smooth Jazz while crossing the street on my way to catch the 27. (He was driving a bus back to the base, apparently, after finishing his shift.) I waved before I had a chance to remember that he doesn’t actually know me, and he waved back. Turns out, he does know me (and how could he not–I’ve been on his bus about 30,000 times in the past year). He said he hadn’t seen me in a while and had been wondering what I’d been up to. This, of course, made me feel very important and fabulous.

Called up the homies and Im askin yall
Which court, are yall playin basketball?
Get me on the court and Im trouble
Last week messed around and got a triple double
Freaking brothers everyway like m.j.
I cant believe, today was a good day

Eastbound 4, 8-ish

A man and a woman who apparently know each other meet in the aisle on the way to their seats.

Woman: “Hey, stranger! You make it through OK?”
Man: “I just got back in town. I couldn’t take it.”
Woman: “Well, you better turn right back around. We’re about to get another d*mn storm. And I just got my lights back on!”

As they continue to talk windstorms and lost power, the man in front of me sits on a tube of toothpaste. He tries to clean it, then gives up and moves.

Picture
The seat, post toothpaste accident (note the tube in the crack between the seat and the wall)

Later, at Jefferson and 14th, a very drunk (the kind of drunk you can smell coming) man gets on, muttering to himself in a thick accent.

“I’m going to a celebration of my people, in Africa, where it doesn’t rain. Not like here. Here it rains every f-ing day.”

Through all of this, Smooth Jazz is at the wheel. Smooth Jazz makes everything aaalllll riiiight.