Monday, July 30, 2012

By Liz

In honor of the summer Olympic games going on in London I’d like to imagine what the Bus riding Olympics could look like.  Do you have what it takes?  Will your picture end up on a Wheaties box?  Here are some possible events and even a play by play of an exciting match.

Sea Legs: Best balancer of coffee, bag, phone, and bus pass whilst heading to a open seat while the bus has already started moving.  Most riders are likely familiar with the sensation of the bus moving after you’ve started down the aisle looking for a seat. With your back to the road ahead, you’re not sure when the next breaking will to happen.  You steady yourself as you take three steps forward, one back while trying to grab on to the nearest pole avoiding the riders head with your bag as you pass them.  Points go to most stylish walk down the moving aisle (well the aisle is not moving, but the competitor and the bus are moving), zero body contact with other riders and their belongings (Lady get your bag out of the way!  Think of the childhood game Operation), and dismount of your tush in a seat without spilling your coffee or messing up your hair. 

Flag Down the Bus DASH: Players round the street corner to find the bus departing the stop.  While avoiding pedestrians, cars, benches, and the random fire hydrant each competitor must make it to the bus before they take off too far down the road. 

HANG ON TONY HAWK:  Formally in the Bus Olympics X Games the popular skateboarding behind a city bus made it to the big show this year.  Competitors will have to complete 3-6 tricks while weaving in and out of London traffic while on the back of a bus.  For the London flare, they’ll have a second round where they are trailing a double decker.  Ohhhh!

Polite Exit: It’s the end of a long bus ride and a long day… You have to pay the fare as you depart the bus while saying thank you (or some other polite  remark to the driver), and exit without falling on your bum or holding up the other 5 -10 people exiting the bus.

Imagine the commentary for this ‘Polite Exit’... Dandy Fine from MSNBC48 “Welcome back to Bus Olympic Coverage 2012.  We’re here today in London, a balmy day as the final Polite Exit rider; Grand Rapids, Michigan Born Liz, who has trained in Seattle, WA for the last three years is ready to start her heat.  You can see as the bus is slowing to the stop where she will exit near Kings Cross Station.  She rolls her head, stretching in her seat and gets her items ready as the bus stops… And she’s up!  Standing the second in line waiting for her exit to happen. Six folks are behind her, including Canadian Celebrity Judge Michael Buble…  Is that Orlando Bloom sitting in the front of the bus?  Oh, these Brits are pulling out all the distractions.  Liz keeps her cool while passing the beautiful actor.  Michael Buble starts to sing a popular tune to add to the distraction meter, but Liz has trained hard and avoids the songsters hypnotic croon.  Her metro card in hand she’s ready to swipe it, and starts to smile to state her exit remarks.  OH, no that is a first for the games, she got the red alert, card is out of money.   You can see her demeanor stays cool as she is a seasoned pro this one, she reaches up to her pocket takes out British Pounds and feeds the meter.  Here comes her exit line with that smirk  smile she’s known for, “Cheers!  Have a lovely evening.”  And she’s off.  That was A-MAZ-ING!!!!  Her coach Jamie gives her a high five as they wait for her scores best of 6.  Now she’ll need a 33.8 or higher to beat Betty from Australia and take home the Gold for USA.  This is going to be a close one.”  

“And the scores for Liz of the United States of America: Canada 5.8, China 5.5, France, 5.6, Japan 5.5, South Africa 5.8, Spain 5.7; total score 33.9.  Liz wins gold.” Announcer lady then states in French.

“LIZ WINS GOLD, USA WINS GOLD”  Dandy the commentator screams into the microphone. The camera shoots to Liz as she is shaking the hands of the silver and bronze medalist.  Smiles gleaming from her parents and sister as they are waving to her from the stands.  Dandy’s voice looms over the coverage “And that’s it Polite Exit, back to Bob Costas in the Studio where he’ll bring the highlights of underwater bus diving.  Back to you Bob!”

If only right… Well at least I gave myself a fake Gold Medal.  Enjoy the real Olympic games and GO TEAM USA!!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Few Lessons To Learn

By Liz

It often amazes me how different my commute into work is from my commute home.   Going in is a bit more calm, almost everyone always has a seat.  The ride seems to be smooth and easy going.  Then when 5 o’clock rolls around and the mass exodus of Downtown Seattle happens the busses are full and usually running a little behind schedule. 

These days I feel all the more like a sardine packed in a tin can.  Happy when the can opens slightly for ventilation.  Imagine picking up that can of sardines off the shelf at your nearest Trader Joes (or other grocer) then suddenly dropping it on the aisle floor.  Still packed tight those sardines jerk and scrunch into each other just a wee bit.  Can you hear the tiny screams? 
Now I’ve done the math.  The 15E bus is a double long one that has the accordion looking mid section.  The bus holds about 65 seats and most ride homes are packed from back to front with standing passengers in the walkway, about 20 or so. That means about 85 people on the commute with me.   All but three times on the ride home, I’ve been one of those standers.  I’m totally used to it by now.  You grip well with one had while scrolling through your twitter feed with the other hand. 
For some more basic bus mechanics, I’ll educate you.  Busses are equipped with a gas peddle that accelerates the vehicle in a forward motions gaining momentum as it speeds along the road.  To the left of that peddle is another one with the opposite purpose.  This is known in common terms as a break.  Depending on the force placed upon said break the in motion vehicle will slow or stop with either ease or elevated force. 
In the past week, I’ve felt like one of those sardines being picked up off the supermarket floor.  Friday I was lucky enough to have the front spot on the bus with a quite particular jerky ride home.  During one of the more sudden jerks, I was acquainted with the lady behind me as she was trying to turn her page in her book at the exact moment of said jerky break.  Luckily, I had both hands on posts and had the leverage/steadiness to brace myself as well as book lady with the few behind her as they jilted forward into my back.  She was quite apologetic and smiled at her reassuring her it was no worries.  After another more than normal jerky ride home yesterday I started thinking about what could be learned here.  I’ll share my conclusions.
Lessons to learn:
  1. Reading while standing on a moving bus, may not be the best thing to do
  2. One to two hands on grab bars (if you happened to be equipped with a third or fourth hand you can use those to read, or grab onto more bars)
  3. Work on those arm muscles, they’ll come in handy
  4. Enjoy the ride (pretend you’re at Disneyland or Cedar Point)
  5. Don’t eat sardines on a bus (or off a bus for that matter), that is just smelly and gross

Friday, July 20, 2012

Popsicle Stop

By Jamie

I have about 4 bus stops that I'm familiar with and use regularly.  Most of them aren't worth writing about.  But the Popsicle stop, well that has to be my favorite for many reasons.  First being there is a big, red popsicle at this bus stop.  Something joyful while waiting for the bus...I like that.  It also means I'm returning from something fun, like a trip to the Market or (my favorite) it means I'm heading home after a delightful happy hour(s).  It helps me know 100% that I'm in the right spot (especially needed when I've had a few)...because yes, I've waited at the wrong stop a time or two.  It seems to me it is the line between "hot spot" Belltown and dirty, grity Belltown. 

What greets me at the end of a good happy hour!

Recently I found a whole gallery on SeattlePI of interesting bus stops.  This one did not make their list, but I sure love this homage to a summer fruit in Japan.
And this one is nicer than my own living room.  That guy doesn't even know what to do!  I would go find me a lemonade and do some serious relaxing while I waited for my coach.  This is somewhere in the US, I think.
Boy, on hot days I sure do wish Seattle had stops like this air conditioned wave of the future stop found in Dubai.  I would NOT be a bus rider in a hot climate w/out this (again, thank goodness I live in Seattle!)

And on the flip side you can cook like your favorite fast food breakfast sandwhich in Minneapolis. 

So many fun ways to make a mundane bus stop something to look forward to.  If you want to check out the PI's whole gallery check it out here.  You'll see there are many King County stops, but we've all seen those, so I wanted to treat you to something fun.  Because everyone's life needs more fun...that's a fact!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Purple Skirt

By Liz

Finally, warm weather shows up in Seattle and people were dressing in dresses, capris, and other weather appropriate garbs.  Purple skirt and striped shirt, the outfit caught my eye in the morning on the way into work.  The style of this professional Gal near my match in age made me wonder what other gems she had in her wardrobe?  The question lasted a moment and then I was off into my daydream about what sitting on a beach with a Mojito in hand and a good summer read… Beach! … Sun!… Swimming!... Oh, I trailed off again there for a moment going back to my daydream.  Anyhoo, back to my story, lets fast forward to the end of the workday now. 

It was typical Wednesday for me, not that eventful and as I entered the bus to head home, I took my spot standing in the isle near the front of the bus.  When we get to the first stop to let commuters off I also did my normal routine of stepping off the bus so 20+ individuals can exit.  Stepping back on and still standing, I repeated the routine at the next stop (one before mine).  While waiting for folks to pay their toll and start on their walk home I noticed the same purple skirt and striped shirt. 
The young woman was talking to the driver with a bit of an overwhelmed look on her face.   It appears that she could not find her Orca Card to pay her way for the bus ride.  He did not push the issue and she expressed her thanks as she exited the bus.  Still frantically looking through her bag and seeming as though she had been deflated by the hard Wednesday.  Back on the bus, and ready to exit for the final time that night I paid with my Orca Card and started on my walk home.  While walking home, I got to thinking about that look of exasperation on purple skirt’s face. 
Purple skirt did not seem to have a great day… One of those where she is late on getting the big assignment into the big boss person.  Then the other big boss person calls her into their office to let her know that Bob is getting the promotion over her.  In the meantime her boyfriend of 3 years Bob, is texting her that it is just not working out.  It is not you, it is me!    Then, to top it all off Purple skirt cannot find the little plastic card that she needs to scan when exiting the bus to cover her fare. 
Kind of a crappy day right?  Well don’ fret, Purple skirt is a strong woman with style and class.  She went home Wednesday night and got the assignment done.  Turning it in on Thursday the big boss person was so impressed that she is promoted to be Bob’s boss.  The Orca Card was found by a beautiful soul of a man that called the number she had put on the card.  Meeting the next day at Starbucks before work to collect her card and treat the Gentleman to a latte as thanks for being so kind.  Sparks fly, whirlwind romance and 8 months later they are on their honeymoon in Hawaii. 
Oh, if only my Liz magic really worked like that and had the fairy tale ending.  I guess we will never know, how mighty my pen (well, keyboard) is.  At least Purple skirt was able to go to the beach…

Friday, July 13, 2012

F.U. Sandusky

By Jamie

Last weekend I took a delightful trip, via bus of course, to Pike Place Market with my little girl and my friend (and co-blogger) Liz.   We thought it would be a fun adventure.  I borrowed a lighter, slimmer stroller so entering and exiting the bus would be easier. We hurried on the bus (ran over some toes, but come on people this ain’t your living room) took our seats.  The bus driver hollers “Are you going to take her out of the stroller?”  Hmmm…no I wasn’t planning on it, but he stated Metro policy.  My only other experience with kiddos on the bus was with my daughters daycare and we had a stroller in tow for one of the tots, but I guess bus drivers are a little more lenient when s/he sees 13 toddlers.  OK, done.  Lyla was on Liz’s lap.  Again the bus driver hollered back, “Collapse the stroller”.  Ugh, fine.  Now I did practice using this stroller, I swear.  I guess I should have practiced while under pressure and on the move.  Oh well.  We settled in.  Had I been solo this would have been a different trip, but thank god for Liz!
The trip was nice, we gathered veggies, fruit and fresh, fresh seafood.  It was a short journey, we weren’t tourist, we were Seattlites enjoying the beauty of our city.  We waited near the giant popsicle for our return bus.  Lyla LOVED that and promptly stated she wanted to eat it, but I persuaded her to wait til we got home.  The bus came and this time we were 100% prepared, toddler in arms, stroller folded, Liz weight down with the rest of our bounty.  Lyla and I were able to grab a seat near the front and we rode.

There was a (hopefully) nice gentleman across the aisle from us.  He made funny faces at Lyla, made her giggle.  But this is where my F.U. to Sandusky (and all others like him) comes in.  I now question all motives from strange men I see/meet.  And really, they aren’t strange, but strangers to me.  I thought about had my dad been across the aisle from a toddler making faces to keep the kiddo entertained.  A mom might think the same thing.  And that’s a shame.  As parents we trod a very fine line from being cautious to being overly protective.  And with creeps like Sandusky out there it makes that job all the harder.  Most men ARE NOT pedophiles or predators.  Most people DO HAVE good intentions.  But it’s that one rotten apple spoils the whole bunch.  I’m glad I don’t have to have serious talks about predators and safety with my daughter…yet.  The time will come, though, so I’m starting to think about my strategy.  I want to raise a daughter that can interact easily with people, especially since I believe that there is so much to learn from people who are different than us.  But I also want my daughter to trust her gut, and not be afraid to call for help.  It is something that each of face everyday.  We all walk the line.  And F.U. to anyone who takes advantage of others, who prey on others, whether they make headlines or not.  And I hope Sandusky rots in jail!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chatting Up Strangers

By Liz

About a month ago I wrote about connectivity and how we can be plugged in and less approachable.  When riding the bus during peak times when the majority of folks are commuting to their jobs and not just out for a pleasure trip to the market a quietness happens.  Maybe it’s just because not everyone has had their morning cup of coffee and they dread going into the office to deal with the same mundane job yet again.  It can be understandable that people want to take those last few minutes before the hustle and bustle of the day to reflect on their own time.  Or as the man across from me was doing and playing a game on his Kindle. 

However, when riding (on a bus, plane, or other transit) during non daily routine times a different story may happen.  About two months ago my parents and I were in a shuttle van going from John Wayne Airport to Disneyland (well, Paradise Pier first).  We were having a total vacation and happy time knowing that my sister would be joining us at the hotel and park about 3 hours later.  The Supper Shuttle waits until a full van is there until they leave.  It’s all about the Benjamin’s for them. 

Loaded with nine vacationers and a driver we were headed to the happiest place on earth, well at least to our prospective hotels before going off to the land of Mickey.  The back row which sat four relatively sour faced folks that were not in the highest happy vacation moods.  Poo on them right!  The next row consisted of Mom and Dad, then me and a lady who was traveling with her flight attendant friend that was located in the front passenger seat.  About 5-10 minutes into the 30 minute van ride, the lady next to me complimented me on my earrings.  They are my favorite earrings, with owls in fun colors.  I was happy to have someone else like them too! 

Shortly after that the conversation faucet started pouring.  The two ladies, my parents, and I all did the vacation get to know you talk.  Where we were from?  Where we were staying?  How long we were going to be there?  Of course if you’ve ever been around my family when someone is celebrating a birthday you’d know that they want to make sure everyone knows it.  Soon the ladies knew that we were also celebrating my 30th Birthday on the trip.  My van neighbor perked up and shared she was celebrating her 40th Birthday with her long time friend (the flight attendant).  Two Birthday celebrations in one van headed to Disneyland on a beautiful California May morning, lovely!

Conversing with newly acquainted people is something that has always been pretty easy for me.  I attribute this to my parents, they do this a lot.  It could be the person riding in an elevator with you for 20 seconds or a family that is on the same boat for the Grizzly River Run and are bout to get soaked together.  These encounters become part of your memories.   Nineteen years ago on our family’s first trip to Disney World we went to a Luau at the Polynesian Resort.  Seated at our table was another family of four from Grand Rapids, Michigan and the father worked with the same company as my Dad.  Crazy right! That is still part of my memory from that trip, that we chatted with strangers over dinner and found we were connected in an ‘It’s a Small World’ way.

Of the many things that my parents have passed on to me this is one that I appreciate so much.  Maybe for two years in my youth I would get embarrassed when they would start chatting up complete strangers, but I grew out of that (kinda).  They always told me and my sister that it was their job to embarrass us.  They always were trying for a promotion or something. :O)  In honor of my Mom’s Birthday on Thursday I would like to dedicate this post to her.  Thanks Mom for being you!  Happy Birthday too!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Biggest Gift Would Be From Me...

By Jamie

It was one of those Fridays.  I had a huge case of the fuck-its.  So bad that at 11:15 I barged in to my supervisors office and said “I’ve got the fuck-its, can I leave at noon?”  He was a bit shocked, but obliged.  My husband had been out of town that week, kiddo was sick, I was tired and work wasn’t offering me anything more than misery.  This is why I have vacation right?  Sometimes it’s planned but sometimes you just got to take 4 hours to make it.  I was excited to go home, relax, start my weekend. 

Standing at the bus stop my mood didn’t improve much.  I just wanted to get the commute over and be home.  It was sunny, so that was pleasant, but that is where the pleasantry stopped for me.  The bus came, I got on and the bus lurched forward.  I always loose a little bit of my balance when the driver hits the gas, I’m used to it.  Then someone grabbed my arm, as if to steady me.  In my head I was thinking “Hands off…I can handle this.  Don’t touch me.  I’m a sour as milk left out for days”.  I turn to see who this person was who would reach out and touch a stranger…I was going to give him or her the most evil fuck off face.  And what to my delight do I find, only one of my favorite friends, the one and only Jody.  I squealed like a high school girl and threw myself into the nearest seat.    Jody and I don’t work anywhere near each other, so to see her shiny face was a shock.  Totally out of nowhere!  She had been working on a school project at the Olympic Sculpture Garden (or park?  I don’t really know what the official name of it is) and was headed home. 

The chances of a meeting like this are almost slim to none…but this time none left town!  I thought I’d at least get a 15 minute reprieve from my bad mood.  We got a chance to catch up (Jody being a graduate student and full-time nurse, not to mention a wife to one and friend to many…yeah, her hours are limited) and I got to see her new hair style in person.  To my delight Jody was hungry and had carved out an hour or two to eat…and now I got to be her date.  Two gals, hitting the town at noon on a sunny Friday…for me it was pure luxury!  We ate great food, enjoyed a cocktail or two, but most importantly I had a much needed attitude adjustment.  And if it weren’t for the “stupid bus ride” that I dreaded, I would not started my weekend out so wonderfully.  No, that day I didn’t have a chance to take in fellow passengers…nope I just got to soak in the company of just the person I needed to see.  If she threw a party and invited everyone she knew, she would see the biggest gift would be from me and the card attached would say “Thank you for being a friend”.  (Jody and I are equal lovers of The Golden Girls).

And here’s to your weekend, readers.  I hope some if not most of your time is spent with someone who lifts your spirits, or gives you what ever it is you need.  I’ll toast to that!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


By Liz

Due to the July 1, 2012 Seattle ban on plastic bags and cost for paper bags across the retail spectrum I was inspired to touch on bags and the bus.  More about the Bag Ban later if you’re interested.  

Bags! I’ve seen them all, from backpacks, oversized purses, totes, ‘man’ bags, plastic, and full sized luggage.  Of course the bus is a form of public transportation and folks need to carry their items someway or another.

As the picture shows my bus has a variety of interesting choices.  I particularly like the spiked out backpack.  It’s a keeper!  Personally, I tend to go with over the shoulder totes.  The big bag that seems to have a Mary Poppins effect as you are searching for your lip balm or keys.   Your arm keeps going around and around finding all the items in the bag, but the one you’re looking for. 

In the beginning of my regular bus commuting days I tried out a backpack for a bit.  While I enjoyed the freedom of having my hands free, I felt  like a little kid going off to school.  Not that fashionable for me, even if it was practical.  Also, I kept feeling that I would knock someone out with taking up extra space on the bus when standing.  It was so stressful.  My goal then turned to find practical, yet fashion okay bag.  Still not there, but I’ll find it.   I see a new Pinterest Board in my future. 

As far as the July 1, 2012 Ban on Plastic Bags it seemed to be a surprise to most folks shopping on Sunday.  Really?  It’s been all over the news and radio for the past 7 months.  Every store had a sign up for the last month.  It’s exciting way to encourage folks to use their reusable bags.  Problem was that only 13% of the 292 million plastic bags used in Seattle were being recycled.  That is pretty sad.  What about paper?  Well, you can still get paper bags for 5 cents each.

For myself, I was about a 50% reusable bag user, I just need to work on my habits and always carry a few extra with me. 

If you want to read more about the ban, check out this article from the Seattle Times.