Thursday, June 28, 2012

It Ain't No Big Thing

By: Jamie

It was a grey, damp June evening as I saw a rider step off her bus.  At first I noticed her attire, it was an eggplant sheath dress and matching long coat.  Like something the queen would wear, or a female politician.  It was very nice (I loved the color) to be sure, albeit a little conservative for my personal taste.  My eyes eventually made it to the hair.  I don’ t how else to describe her hair other than ‘80’s rock and roll, not long, ratty and blonde like Lita Ford, but shorter with thick heavy bangs; think sandy blonde Joan Jett.  Her boots were tall, but they looked like bad ass motorcycle boots made for some ass kicking. 
As she waited to cross the street she held a cigarette in her teeth, jutted out her hip, lit up and you could tell that when she exhaled that smoke was just what she needed.    Everything but her attire seemed to fit her.  So, was she just heading back from an interview?  Did she have some reception job at a big fancy downtown firm that required “business attire”?  A job that maybe wasn’t fulfilling but left her enough time, energy and money to rock and roll on the weekends.  As she crossed the street she took long, commanding strides and tough, don’t fuck with me drags of her smoke.  I liked her.  I liked that she kept me guessing.  She probably was none of the things that I imagined her being, with the exception that I bet she was a kick ass woman who didn’t take no shit. 

That got me to thinking about what people think when they see me.  I’m pretty indistinguishable from the other white masses that live in Seattle.  I know one thing that always seems to shocks people is when they see me smoking a cig (an ongoing battle, so please no judgment).  A co-worker was surprised I smoked when she saw me one day, said I was so “wholesome”.  Wholesome?  Me?  Uhhhh, well I guess I can come across that way.  I think it’s my smile.  It’s bright, wide and genuine, but much of the time it’s like my masquerade mask.  I think we all have one of those masks, some may feel less comfortable in them and others prefer their masks. 
But, back to my above mentioned friend…whose true story I’ll never really know.  She rocks!  I love that she gave me something to think about.  And left me with “Went to party last Saturday night, didn’t get drunk, got in a fight.  Uh huh, it ain’t no big thing” stuck in my head for days.  “Kiss me once, kiss me twice, come on pretty baby kiss me deadly”.  Oh, and a shout to all the hard working, hard rocking ladies out there…let’s run the world!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Freaky Friday

By Liz

Friday was one of those real wet rains that are pretty rare for Seattle.  Now, that might sound crazy for those of you who’ve never lived in Seattle.  A city that is synonymous with rain.  There are a million types of rain that falls in Seattle;  Most common is the grey day that produces random drizzles, but nothing that get’s you all that wet when walking to the corner store.  Friday’s rain actually consisted of hours of big rain-drops rain.  That level right before a storm when it’s coming down so hard that it’s actually coming up too!  Even with an umbrella I was getting quite wet when I walked to the store at lunch and again on my way to the bus stop after work.  That was the freaky part one, wet rain in Seattle. 

Freaky part two happened when I was the last one to walk on the bus that I usually have to stand the whole way home on.  I was beyond surprised that there were extra seats, it was almost eerie how may open slots there were.  Rain for the busses mean extra packed as people are not cycling to work or going to stay downtown for happy hour shenanigans.  Thus why this was extra freaky to me. 

I took my seat and proceeded to watch the folks around me.  The Ladies and Gentlemen looked as though the long week at work had drained and deflated them.  The thought of getting home and curling up on the couch, kicking their shoes of and uncorking a bottle of wine was the only thing that kept them going.  There might have been some slight projection on my part as far as what I was looking forward to when I got home. 

The driver, a sub for this route and time was not exactly sure what was what “Next stop is ummm… at ummm… 15th and ummm.”  Feeling slight pity and annoyance, I chimed in with “Market!  15th and Market is the next stop.”  He proceeded to repeat it to the bus, although not very audible for more than a few rows back to hear.  Mr. Sub Driver Guy seemed as though he was a little on edge.   Not in a bad way mind you, but in the ‘let’s get this over and done with please.  On a non freaky day, he may have been one of those fun, hop aboard my yellow submarine Captains.  Sadly, that was not what he portrayed on this ride. 

Darken skies from the wet rain, lighter than normal occupancy on the bus, and sub driver the ride home soon turned into  one of those surreal moments. Every so often I have moments in time where it feels so surreal like a movie, book or dream unfolding in front of my eyes.  Maybe it’s because I’m reminded of a scene in movie or book.  Which leads to…

The final freaky part was that particular ride was linked to a favorite book/movie series Harry Potter and slight reminisce of the Knight Bus.  It would have been totally cool to have a bus change shapes to meet traffic needs.   No shape shifting, but the speed, erratic dodging and slamming on the breaks brought me to that moment when Harry is fleeing the Dursley home after inflating Aunt Marge.  Sitting in the first seat and next to the glass bulkhead, I even had a moment or two when I pancaked into the glass.  Thankfully it was my shoulder and not my nose. 

Alas, my stop came and I exited the Freaky  Friday bus and walked home getting vastly more soaked in the process.  I suppressed my Singing in the Rain Gene Kelly dance and just opted for singing the song.  “I’m singin’ in the rain, Just singin’ in the rain, What a glorious feelin’, I’m happy again.”  Oh, what a truly a glorious feelin’! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cute or Annoying?

By Jamie

What would you think if in the middle of your bus commute 13 toddlers hopped on your bus (along w/adult helpers, of course)? That’s 26 little legs that have trouble with the steps, trouble with the seats…and honestly they are toddlers, so some might think trouble period.  Some people would think it was the cutest thing on God’s green earth.  Others would think it is bothersome to have their day slowed down by these 13 shorties, not to mention the noise that usually accompanies a toddler horde.  What if I told you these toddlers were all dressed in matching purple and white striped shirts?  For some people it shot the cute factor out the roof!  And for those who thought they were annoying it didn’t change a thing, in fact they probably thought they looked like pint sized jail birds. 
My travelin' companions.
How would I know all this?  I accompanied my daughter’s daycare on a trip to the zoo, and the cheapest, easiest mode of transportation is the city bus.  The trip included a transfer each way, so that was 4 bus rides total.  4 different groups of people to either delight or piss off.   I have to give it to the toddlers.  All were on their very best behavior, no yelling, screaming, running.  None of them were scared and all of them followed directions.  But we did draw attention all the live long day.  Imagine in a line of toddlers dressed alike.  Love it or not we turned heads (one lady rooted us on as we crossed the street)

The rules of the road don’t change when you are with children.  Once the last foot has left the sidewalk the doors closed and the bus rolled.  As an adult we’re used to that…but to see these little guys fly forward was a little frightening.  If I were a different mother it might be maddening, but for me I figure the sooner one figures thing out the better.  And you know toddlers, they are sponges so no only do they pick up the word “fuck” easily they learn the ropes on a bus easily. 

On this day I didn’t have a chance to observe many bus riders, but I’m guess me and my troop were providing lots of stories for our fellow bus riders.  That is one of my favorite things about being a bus rider…you never, ever know what you’re going to get.  Sure there are good guesses that at 7:40am I’m going to be with office commuters, but that’s all it is…a good guess.  It makes you part of this community of folks that you might otherwise never cross paths with. 

And of course, this had lead me to ponder, when is a child old enough to ride the bus alone?  So for my 2 year old it might be a decade, but I’m going to remember this day and remember that she is capable of being a bus rider at any age, just like mommy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Take me out to the ballpark…

By: Liz

As a Michigan transplant, I was more than happy to attend a game the Mariners played against the Detroit Tigers.  Over the last 4 seasons I have tried with all my might to make it to a game when my family favorite Tigers come to town.  Luckily, for me, this year’s game landed on a public service appreciation day and I got to see them with a friend at a discounted price.  I still had reservations about going to a weeknight game, some of which was alleviated with my new found Orca card and bus riding easement.  

After the 5 o’clock whistle blew and my work shift ended, I headed the opposite direction of home and through the downtown corridor towards SODO (South of Downtown).  A pronounced baseball nerd by my friend Justin and joiner for the night festivities, I am a get to the ballpark and hour before first pitch kind of gal.  Another reason that leaving from work was a good idea.  It is an important part of the nostalgia to watch warm up activities, ceremonial first pitches, national anthem singing, and first beer in the hand wielding.  

Justin obliged and made it to the park about 25 min after I did.  Luckily, I met Diane, a Customer Service employee of the stadium that chatted with me as I waited.  It was a lovely happenstance conversation filled with baseball talk, work, and travel.  As a retired airline worker, Diane told me all about her and her husband’s travel to many far reaches of the earth.  As a person that is caught with the traveling bug, I was more than excited to talk with Diane and albeit a little jealous too!

A lovely game (Tigers lost!  Boo!) In addition, wonderful conversation with my dear friend I was pleased that there were no extra innings and the game lasted just over two hours.   Hope of being home and in bed by 11pm flooded me as we walked out of the station and down to bus row.  I am not sure if they really call it bus row, but all the riders knew where to go and bus after bus that went by was packed full of fans on their way home.  Five minutes after arriving at the bus stop, the 28 appeared ready to take me home.  

The twenty-five minute ride from SODO to Ballard was an intriguing one.  My usual tactic to plug in my ear buds and listen to music was thwarted with an encompassing drive to soak in the lively bunch riding along with me.  Connectivity anyone?  Under my feet massive amounts of God knows what made the soles of my shoes stay stickily in place.  I feel like my shoes stuck for days after this ride. 

As I am trying not to obviously, look around at my cohorts and a woman’s phone ordeal is sticking out like a sore thumb.  Seriously, this woman left a voicemail detailing her cell phone number and home phone number loud enough for anyone that wanted to could write it down.  Maybe she feels she does not have to worry about people wanting to call her once they’ve had to ride a bus with her and her (I presume) husband.  It took such a short time to realize that this obnoxious couple would have an opinion on everything and the moon.  Did you know that putting Stevia in your coffee makes you gassy?  Well now I do!  Did you know that television is the downfall of our nation?  Well now I do! Fun right?

That is the amazing fun adventure that you get on a bus; characters right off the downfall of our nation television programing.  A relaxing way to get home after a couple of beers at a ballpark, safe and sound.  I am defiantly not ready to give up my car, but the transit system of Seattle is gaining more and more appreciation from this Rider.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


By Jamie

It was a random mid-day, mid-week ride.  This also meant it wasn't the ease of a Express route.  One thing it made me realize was how grateful I was to have an Express so readily available at my usual commute times.  I got comfortable with my book, prepared to make stops every 2 blocks.  Already on the bus was early 20's American Indian man.  He's the type my mom would be referring to when she stated how good looking Indians were.  His hair like the oily black strands of a vinyl record tied neatly in a low braid, dressed in black from head to toe.  Nice crisp black that had yet to see hundreds of washes turning it to a murky grey.  This was just less than a week after the May Day protest in Seattle, a day that gave a bad name to those who wear all black as  the Columbine shootings in 1999 did for teens wearing trench coats. I guess I'm naive, to have even wondered that.  I'll be the first to tell you I don't understand the Anarchist movement all all...even after I googled it while watching Dancing with the Stars.  Tattoo's on his fingers, but none on his neck.  He looked kind.  He looked strong.  He was like a movie star American Indian he was that good looking.  He probably noticed me staring.  He had to be somewhat used to being looked at, like all the many pretty girls who live on it.  I wondered about his heritage.  His up bringing.  How the stereotypes of American Indian shaped him, was shaping him.  Probably still in college.  Likely making a statement with his all in black attire.  Then the Johnny Cash song, The Man in Black, popped into my head.  Cash was not being vague about the message he was making in his choice of color.  Would Johnny Cash still be wearing black today?  I would guess so.  I'm not always sure we've moved forward as a country since the 1970's when The Man in Black was penned.  A day or two later when I was thinking about the man in black on the bus I pulled up The Man in Black on my iPod.  Then googled the lyrics. A song that is as relative now as ever.  And, God Bless Johnny Cash. 

The Man in Black
Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


by: Liz

Riding along Inter-Bay to work this morning, struck by one of those moments where multiple people connect due to a factor or event.  This event was the stopping of traffic as a semi decided that rush hour traffic was the perfect time to back into a loading dock and block all three lanes of traffic.  It took me a second to look up from my book as we had stopped longer than a traditional traffic light on this route.  As my eyes moved to see what was going on, almost shocked by the corner of said semi truck nearly kissing the front of the bus. 
As I looked around meeting eyes with several of my fellow commuters we each gave the look of “Oh My!  Isn’t this going to be fun” and “Seriously!”  As annoying, as this stop was, I wanted desperately to get to work and all, I found myself thinking how much I enjoy these moments.  The one where strangers verge on a collective stream of thoughts and concepts about something that is happening to all of them at the same time.  Making eye contact and really seeing the people around you.
In these moments, it is hard not to feel a closer connection to humanity…    The subtle comprehension that we are not alone in this big old world.  Sometimes these moments are brief seconds and that is just enough to comprehend what is happening.  These exhilarating instants of civility that brings hope and encouragement. The connectivity of smiles, nods, and smirk alike sets at ease even the minute frustrating moments. 
I sometimes ponder the state of connection that we as a society are currently accustomed.  Armed with my iPhone and a book I tend to people watch enough on the bus, but there is less of an approachable factor that in olden days.  Oh my word, I am pulling out the olden day’s cliché.  Often, I am plugged-in per say listening to music or a podcast, updating a status on Facebook, and looking at celebrity tweets.  Does this mean that someone is less likely to approach me to talk?   I would think so, mainly because I do not usually approached people if they are plugged in and into their own thing.  Is that rude?  Nevertheless, what are we missing? 
Maybe hearing an amazing story from the man sitting across the isle from you that recalls where he was the when man landed on the moon.  How he longed to be an astronaut, but alas decided accounting was his true calling.
Or...The mother gushing about her child’s first steps.  How she caught it on her iPad while Skyping with her mother that is going blind and she was able to see little Timmy walk before she lost sight.
Or… The twenty two year old Mr. Man-boy that was nervously excited about his first interview for a internship with a hoity-toity company that he was going to make a difference at.  To then flash forward 5 years and realize he was same Mr. Man-boy that was on the cover of Fortune as the top 10 under 30 richest in the world.  He really did make a difference with all the philanthropy.   
Connecting with social media at our fingertips sometimes leads to missed opportunity to connect with what is right in front of our faces.  Making those moments of connection all the more precious.  Does this sound a wee bit hokey?  Probably!  I tend to err on the corny and soppy.  It is the “Gosh darn it guys!”  And “Gee wiz” in me.  However, I do hope to un-plug more often and invite happenstance events. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012


by: Liz

Welcome to the 60’s… One stop after I joined the bus to work one Tuesday morning a young gentleman that had a Buddy Hollyesque vibe sat in the seat across from me.  His style immediately caught my eye, looking more suited to go to a sock hop instead of work.  Sporting HRG (horn rimmed glasses), brown suede shoes, and a Marty McFly red jacket this Catch Me If You Can Mad Man had me stepping back into another era. 

He clearly could fit in on a Pan Am flight, reading his newspaper, and looking so square.  HRG was Maxwell Caulfield in the first half of Grease 2 before becoming Michelle Pfeiffer’s Cool Rider.   This hip to be cool dude had this old soul gal wondering if there is a purpose to his style.  Who is this guy.  Does he watch Rebel Without a Cause on Friday nights at the drive-in?  Is he finding himself more at ease with 50 years ago than today?  This Peggy Sue Got Married groovy lad captivated my ride.  I start to wonder what if the bus transforms back to the early 60’s in a time warp. So many awesome and scary things could arise from this time travel.   

Going back 50 years ago from today in Seattle would be pretty interesting as the 1962’s Worlds Fair was a look into our future.  The orange Space Needle and first full scale Monorail captivated Seattle and the Nation.  However, I would most likely not be on the bus headed to my job.  I would probably be married with three kids while my husband rode the smoke filled bus with 40 other men with their fedora hats on, reading their papers learning about the silly invention called a fax machine.  

Meanwhile, I would have been bounded up in some sort of girdle and a albeit gorgeous but inconvenient dress. Vacuuming the house and going to the market to get the pot roast to have ready as my hubby walked in the door chiming in ‘Honey, I’m home.’  Would I have been one of those forward thinking women that had a career and did not let social norms stop me, think Skeeter in The Help?  Or would I played my role as the dutiful wife and young American woman?   Often romanticising the other eras of time gone by, I feel pleased that there can still be the throw backs to the good times like Mr. HRG, but the advancement of today.  Sent from my iPhone anyone?

Monday, June 4, 2012

And the ride begins....

By: Jamie

I’m a watcher.  I’m usually extremely aware of my surroundings.  I don’t forget faces.  I’m a dreamer too.  I can concoct some crazy story about a stranger I see.  I’ve always known these things about me, but it wasn’t until I had to commute a measly 3 miles to work on a bus that I began to realize that these people are a part of my life. 

Most of my life bus riding, I should clarify, city bus riding has been novelty.  As a kid it was something I did for leisure when my parents couldn’t get me there or I wanted the freedom, to feel “grown-up”.  For most of my adult life it’s been the same…a trip to a festive where parking would gouge into my budget, easy transportation to a Seahawks game where no DD was needed or (my personal favorite) early morning trip to Pike Place to grab a bouquet of flowers before the tourist crammed every square inch.  It wasn’t until I had to commute bus for work that it really sunk in.  In my 3-mile commute (which I rode for 2 months tops) I realized that I’d see the same people, I began to know where they got on, where they got off, their bus habits.  I began making stories up about their lives…the uptight lady whose house was oh so very tidy, the loud talker who was not liked by any neighboring co-workers, the brown bag lunch carrier who of course was a man and his mom always packed his lunch in a brown bag, so why change now? 

Then in a quick minute my life, or maybe more importantly my budget, depended on me being a bus commuter.  My 3-mile commute became 7-miles.  But again I found myself becoming attached to these nameless people and brining them to life in my mind.  And my mind has been reeling….