Ode to Mrs. Furbush

I was sitting in her Living room interviewing for the position, I was looking at a number of beautiful antiques……

My first real career was an Interior Designer.  I struggled to understand the concept of designing for others, as in some way’s it’s an extreme invasion privacy.  A designer’s mission is to fully understand the clients esthetic tastes then somehow turn it into the home of their dreams.

Learning about them is what I struggled with, until I met Mrs. Furbush.

I was sitting in her Living room interviewing for the position, I was looking at a number of beautiful antiques, art, Knick knacks and asked her, “what is your favorite piece”?  She told me about a chair she would read stories to her now grown daughter, a table where her son fixated on studying… a Lamp her husbands mother had, then her eyes lit as she talked about her Grandmothers Tea Set.  Her and Grandmother drank tea together from this set ( what’s left of it) and later she inherited it and used it almost everyday…. “ I used this during the war she said.  I was an actress in London at the time of the bombing, one night during a performance, the bombs were shaking the building, several chandeliers and tiles fell, we kept the play going. Afterwards when I came back to my dressing room a number of things were destroyed by fallen tiles, but this tea set survived.” She had tears in her eyes.  I felt the moment with her, then we talked about how we could design the condo around the tea cup, pull the colors onto the walls, use a similar pattern on the drapery, paint one of the scenes (deer) onto the fireplace.

So much happened during this project, we became great friends and the project was one of my best because it was so personal, every item and color had purpose.

I began to piece it all together, the items we have, we wear are stories about us. 

I had spent many hours at airports, shopping malls, walking the streets observing people, 7 years at an Art School, but it took Mrs. Furbush to bring the attention of all the symbolism we carry in our lives.

I understood people make decisions about items with purpose, whether they know it or not, there is a reason they dress the way they do, or live the way they do, have homes the way they do. 

In my mind now possessions are not shallow things, we like items for a reason, and that reason my have historical significance to it. Money doesn’t matter in all this, my most precious item is a Christmas ornament that is from my fathers first Christmas of 1921. Glass bird, worn out, thin, missing feathers for its tail, but I cherish it for all the reasons you can imagine and cannot.

Not long ago, a woman boarded my bus, she was holding a sweater to her face and crying into it. She struggled to sit at the front.  I didn’t have many people, Mam, are you ok?  She spoke in broken Latino English, my mammy just died, they just told me, she sobbed, broken, unashamed about her state in front of strangers, This is all I have of hers, she lives away, she cried. An older woman sitting across from her moved to sit next to her, put her arms around her and held her as she cried. 

I felt the pain as I pulled away and across the West Seattle Freeway bridge.  I thought of my moms death and fought the tears that all of us were fighting.  The woman hugged the woman next to her, left our bus a few miles later, able to walk and breath. 

It was an old sweater, worn and not many would consider it pretty… to the woman who just lost her mom, it meant her childhood, her family, it was everything she sees the world through.  It is irreplaceable.

The next day was the beginning of my weekend.  I have teacups that belonged to my mother and grandmother.

I made tea that morning…. I thought of Mrs. Furbush, my Mother, my Grandmother. 

70th and Love and Marriage

Well, my 2nd ex just bought me dinner and drinks…….

In Ballard, stopping at Market Street, 3 or 4 people loaded immediately, as I was closing the door I heard a voice call, “Wait” A man, 70s, white beard, dressed in jeans, work boots, baseball cap, for some reason, I thought “Sailor” started to enter my bus, “sorry, I’m moving slow” your doing fine, “its my 70th today” wow, Happy Birthday! “thank you, I made it” he said as he slipped his dollar in the till and I handed him his transfer.  He stood by my chair, I asked, you gonna celebrate?

“Well, my 2nd ex, just bought me dinner and drinks” Nice I said, cool of her, “yeah, we have always kept in touch, she was 2nd out of 3….. 1st one, I was too young, we were too young, my 2nd, well, 15 years was enough” 3rd? I said, “She died a couple years ago” sorry man, “its ok, this one was always ok, tonight was steak at my favorite bar, she bought me a bunch of shots, I’m a bit tipsy” you seem fine, I said, “about 7 or 8, I asked her if this meant she was staying tonight” I chuckled and looked at him, hmm, “yeah, she kissed me on the cheek, and said, no, sweetheart, I wanted to get you those shots so your hung over tomorrow, that’s my gift to you,

 she paid the bill and left me there, she always seems to get the upper hand” …….. I had to laugh.

A buddy of mine since childhood married his childhood sweetheart and have been married since they were in their early 20s…. He would bring up times when he felt he knew he was married, Kids, 1st purchase of a house, things like that  seemed to be reminders to him, I didn’t know if he was keeping track of what they did, or these things made the marriage seem more real.  In their 20th year together he was confiding in me how things had changed… Yeah, love was still there, but sex wasn’t what it used to be, and on a Sunday morning after a session together, draperies were closed, lights were off and they were talking and laughing about how their bodies had changed, softer, more folds, patches of padding,   Home, Kids, college funds, careers, friends, families, these kinds of subjects came up during sex, that morning their discussion led to how intertwined their lives were and marriage was not what they expected, but what they had hoped for, and talked about how sex seemed to become both a discussion of tasks as well as a physical connection. They were happy,  While he was laying on his back and she sitting on his stomach, she taps his chest right on his breast plate, her finger beads a drop of sweat, she leans down and taps again with her ear to his chest, she brings her lips to his ear and says softly “if you ever leave me,  I’ll stab you in the Heart…Do you understand, the Heart.” 

Reptilians and a Guy with the day off

There are times when you ponder when we are still human, and if one can come back from not fitting that definition.

There are times when you ponder when we are still Human, and if one can come back from not fitting that definition.  I have partook in casual drugs in my life, and believe moderation and light use is part of the human experience, alcohol, weed, pretty mild stuff when enjoyed lightly, there are those that are more bold in their “exposure”

At the corner of 3rd and Pike, across the street from me, a young blond girl struggled walking with her 2 pair of shoes, her lace up heals wrapped around tight jeans, with the heals sideways dragging on the street to the outside of each foot wearing tennis shoes,  ever see that video of the husky wearing shoes?  This is how she moved. 

Behind her, an older man in at least his 70s, long hair and long beard, worn jeans that sagged, way down, whitey tidies……. He was bent forward with his butt against the building, rubbing it up and down, drooling.

The blond started to cross the street towards us, busses slowed and let her go, her movements were reptilian.  Think of the Chicken picking its way through the yard. She walked towards me, I looked into her eyes, it was disturbing how vacuous and empty those eyes were, a woman standing next to me gasped and moved behind me, the blond strutted by me, walked to the building behind put her hand on the wall, turned left and  continued up the street.  I had a chill from the encounter.

At Aurora and 105th I approach a stop light, there is a middle-aged man dressed in torn clothes, long blond hair and unshaven with a spotty beard.  He slowly spins with his arms stretched out wide, comes to the edge of the curb, steps back as he turns, comes around and steps onto 105th, a small Honda swerves left to miss him making the car in that lane stomp on his brakes, send the car behind him into my lane, missing my bike rack by inches.  The man freezes in the street as horns blare. He stares off in the distance unaffected and unaware of almost being hit, and the situation he caused.  A few weeks later he boards my bus at Northgate, pays his fare in coins and stares forward all the way to 3rd and Pine.  I saw no change of expression in his face. He stood up his face still forward as he walked past me and out the bus.  I did not watch to see where he went.

In Freemont, a Saturday afternoon I pick up a 20s something guy, wobbly drunk and openly friendly, says, “man, I don’t have any cash on me, beer is expensive” I smile and hand him a transfer. “Thanks man, I’m drunk … just sorta happened, kinda” a s he took a seat near the front. He burped loudly and said, “oh man, I’m sorry, this is kind of embarrassing” thinking of nothing else he could say, he blurted out “GO Hawks”!! the Bus was silent… he waited a moment,  then said, “Ok then, I get it, I’m drunk, how bout politics. Trump, sheesh, am I right”? silence, “I mean seriously, Jesus”! silence, then he said, “ok, pardon me, Love you guys”

An older gentleman was getting off the bus and leaned into me as he said, “you have an intoxicated young man there”  He seemed to expect me to do something about it, all I said was, Yes, I noticed.

The young man stepped off the bus in Ballard, thanked me for the ride, As I waited for the light to turn green, I watched him go into a coffee shop.

While Stopped

a Lovely brunette in her mid twenties is turning as the seamstress pins the hem

I pull into a stop on Greenwood Ave, I have a view of a Bridal Gown store, a lovely Brunette in her mid-20s is turning as the seamstress pins the hem, her Mom is taking pictures with a camera, a friend takes pictures with her phone. On my left I’m passed by an electric bike with the cargo spot in front carrying a set of what I think are twins, toddler age, I begin to get ready to pull out and am passed by a small car with a husky hanging out the window, he barks at the lady riding the bike, she veer’s to the right but manages to avoid hitting a parked car.  Across the street the Fire House doors begin to open, a siren turns on and the flock of pigeons lined on a power line take flight.

Sunrise I’m at a stop, facing Mt Rainier, the foot of the mountain is pink, then is dark blue at the summit, the mountain dominates the seen as the buildings, cars, people become unnoticeable,  sheep clouds are red underneath, then cotton white at the top.  I watch the blinking red lights of a plane as its on its way to Sea Tac, my window is open, and the air is fresh as it gusts in my window. The early Seattle city planners designed the road this way and this is why we call it Rainier Avenue

I’m headed down a hill and stopped just before a busy intersection downtown, it’s Game day,  there is a Seahawk fan in full garb, hat, coat, shorts, shoes and socks in hawk colors throwing a football to other fans across intersections, he points at me, I shake my head no, and he throws the ball over my bus and to another person dressed in garb on the other side.  The crowd laughs and he throws the ball over to another corner, as I wait for the light, the ball has been thrown 4 or 5 times to different people.  There is a dog pulling at the leash wanting to get into the game, a street singer saws “Go Hawks” on her microphone, the crowd yells “Go Hawks.”  There is an old gentleman at a bus stop bench sleeping.

I’m at a stop that is by the front door of a small chain restaurant, they have a line on Sundays that goes about a half a block, people are drinking Starbucks, couples are meeting other couples, a family of 5 is carrying presents as to celebrate a Birthday. Inside the restaurant the tables are full, the windows are slightly fogged.  At the door the hostess is calling the next table. I pick up a couple that just finished eating and they ask me if I go near the zoo.  A younger man wearing a hoodie and headphones pushes by without paying or caring that he knocked food out of their hand, walks towards the back, they look at him briefly, shake their heads then find a seat in front. He gets off later at a busy downtown stop and pushes through the crowd, another younger guy swings back at him and hits him on the shoulder, he ignores it and goes into a drug store.

The crosswalk is full of people dressed in various types of garb, going left, right,  phones, briefcases, purses, wheel chairs, bags of food, clothes, dogs on leashes, hats, sunglasses, scarves set up multi moving patterns of color that hints of the stories they are telling.

Some Interactions on the Bus

Life should always be as happy as feeding birds

An older gentleman that I believe to be in his late 60s early 70s, definitely a hippy, hopped on to my bus and explained he was from out of town and has no idea how much it costs to use our bus.   I said, “well, people in their 20s pay 2.75, people a bit more mature pay a dollar”  Through his long beard his toothless smile chuckled and he said “ Im a bit past 20 but still immature” good for you sir, that will be a dollar and Ill give you a transfer for the next bus.  Yea, I’m heading up to Shoreline and need to get on some giddy bus” giddy bus? I said…. “something like that, a buddy of mine has an art show at the Shoreline town hall I’m in town to see it.  Very cool I said, I think you want the

E line, yea, that’s it. We were chatting as we headed down the road, Ill let you know when we get to that stop, great he said, I just got in from Spokane about an hour ago, I hitchhiked…. Really? That’s a long ride…. Yea, been 4 days, I picked up a ride to Republican, then over to Wenatchee, down to Arlington, then up here… sheesh that is a journey, yea, I like to get out at least once a year, hitch a ride and go for a bit…… you do that as a thing? I asked, oh yea, been doing it for years, my buddy said I should see this show, so this was a good reason for the ride…. You’re a good friend I said as we arrived at his transfer… I reached out and shook his hand, He struck me as a guy that’s had a lot of good conversations.

There has been what I believe is a Mother and Son that get on my bus in Ballard and ride into town, or from town to Ballard, her health has been on the decline and she moves a bit more slow each time and now has a hearing aid and wears dark glasses. I tilt the bus for her, she is careful with her cane as her son holds her arm, they sit close and chat to each other.  He is very attentive, they seem very close.  It reminds me of my mothers last days, as hard it is to watch a parent that is in their end of days, I think of my moms as some of the sweetest times I had with her. 

She had Leukemia. The last few weeks were a fast decline, I lived near by and would go to her place each morning to check on her before work and after.  One morning she was having a difficult time getting out of bed.  Mom was a big woman helping her out wasn’t easy, As I got her to her feet, she passed out, It was all I had to keep her from falling, and because of her size and physical condition, getting her back on the bed was more than I could do, I held her up in a bear hug.  I had my cell phone in my pocket and called 911 and explained the situation, and let them know her bladder just let lose, the dispatcher said they wouldn’t be long.   

I called into work and let them know I wouldn’t be in, she started to come too and started to cry, I’m so embarrassed she said, Mom, don’t worry about that, they are on their way, we will get you checked in for a few days…….. As upsetting as that memory sounds, and the loss of some very nice Italian shoes, I find it to be a moment of intimacy that is unforgettable one of those moments of love and understanding that can only be achieved with a lifetime behind it.

I envy them as much as I cringe at what will come next for them.

Don is a middle-aged man that lives in one of Seattle’s halfway houses, Don has a great nature, positive, fun, he doesn’t have walls nor is he shy from sharing anything.  He Physically seems to be in great shape, and I believe his situation is simply a limited mental capacity, which has never seemed to bother him.

His favorite coat is his mariner coat, he has gone to the expense of printing pictures of all his favorite mariner players on this coat, he shows it off with great pride, explains which picture is, when they played he shares a memory of them and there must be 30 or 40 pics on this coat…. It’s a good-looking jacket, I’m surprised no one has stolen his idea yet.

I see Don usually around the Denny area, lately he sells a local newspaper to people as they pass by, he loses interest as the pigeons flock to him, he loves his birds, they sit on his arms and shoulders as he feeds them, laughing, having a blast that these birds flock around him, sometimes must be a crowd of 30 or 50 birds around him as he puts bread crumbs and seeds on his shoulders, feet, hands , head he waves as people drive by.

Life should always be as happy as feeding birds.

Earnestine

We kept food out for him, and discovered he was living under our side stairs

We moved into this house about a year and a half ago, the house is smaller than we preferred, but the yard is huge, two greenhouses and two storage sheds, and still plenty of room for my workshop.  When we moved here, we inherited a yard that attracted a number of cats, 4 or 5 by our count. A few were neighbor cats and 2 or 3 were strays.

At first, we didn’t see much of our new little grey cat, we would occasionally see him looking from a distance or hurrying around a corner, he kept his distance. He and Sheba got into a scramble, I stamped my foot at him, he ran and kept his distance from me for quite a while.

About a year went by and we started to see more of him, we also kept food out and found that he had be living under our side stairs. He would watch us with a serious face.  Long stares of sizing us up, he watched our every move.  I thought he was watching with Earnest and that would be a good name for him.

We got to know our neighbor and He told us what he knew of her, (Earnest now became Earnestine) that she had been around for at least a decade, was the two occupants ago cat and was left behind for some reason, and might be the mother of several of the neighborhood cats. He kept food out for her, but never saw her much.

When we would did see her, she was always tense, Earnestine’s survival method was to run and avoid all cats, she was the one lowest on the totem pole, she was too small, too old to protect herself, avoidance was what worked for her, when she was confronted by Tom, she screamed, some kind of unearthly type of plea, would break our hearts as we ran out to chase Tom off.  Pam would spend time with her and was making slow progress, It was then that we learned she is a “Hemingway” cat:  If you’re not familiar with the term, it refers to 6 toes on each foot, (24 toes) also, one eye socket is a little smaller than the other,  Earnestine would take food from us as long as we weren’t too close, then one day as Pam held out her hand, Earnestine touched her nose on Pam’s finger, then soon Pam could pet her, I was making similar, but slower progress, her face started to relax from being earnest, to something sweet and curious. Food would now be eaten while we were close and we were allowed to pet her, then she came into the house, as long as we kept the door open, she was ok, if I closed the door, she would jump at windows trying to get out.  It took a bit, but now she trusts us, and will lay with us if we sit on the kitchen floor and purr while we pet her and talk to her. She never ventures farther into the house.

Earnestine still wants to stay outside, she is a feral cat, and showing her age, too skinny, bones, and limps from an old hip injury that might be arthritic, we put together a warm cat house that has a heating pad and is insulated. We have fallen in love with her and hope this keeps her well for the winter, as she has lived a long time for a feral cat, as much as we want her to share her house with her, we fear this might be her last winter. 

Driving on Christmas and the Best Muffin in the World

Today she gets on the Bus carrying a large Tupperware container, “Oh Hello, Merry Christmas” she says Merry Christmas I said, she sits at the front, She’s in a Burgundy coat, black stockings, matching heels, wonderful scarf, Hair perfec

I would have considered this day pretty uneventful; I had a few more people than I expected, they were all on their way somewhere, traffic was very light, the weather was clear.  My Bus warmed up this morning, then the heater went out about halfway through my first run up to Shoreline Community College, I called it in, Transit Control would get me a new bus on my run back to Westwood Village. 

Heading down Greenwood I stop by an assisted living building, it’s a very nice facility, I understand its pricey to live there and is excellent in its services and the condos are spacious and well appointed.

I have picked up this woman at the stop many times over the course of the last 2 years.  She is over 80, always well dressed, even when dressed casually, her hair is perfect, makeup well done, fashionable and accessorized.  She has always struck me as well accomplished; she communicates well and very direct.  I’ve thought of her as rather Grand, though we have never had a conversation more than a general greeting.

Today she gets on the Bus carrying a large Tupperware container, “Oh Hello, Merry Christmas” she says Merry Christmas I said, she sits at the front, She’s in a Burgundy coat, black stockings, matching heels, wonderful scarf, Hair perfect.  You look like your on your way to fun I said, “ Yes, she replied, Granddaughters first time hosting Christmas.  “Wonderful” I said, Yes, and its my job to bring these muffins, everyone knows how to make them, but they have made it my job.  “No one cooks better than Grandmas” I said.  That’s so true, she said, This is my Grandmothers recipe, She taught me how to make them, and I make them every year, taught  my daughter, then taught my granddaughter, “ I love family traditions like that” I said.  The recipe has changed a bit since my grandma made them,  we lived in Idaho, I grew up in a cabin, my grandparents didn’t have power, back then, grandfather built the Cabin, not very big, large fireplace, exposed timbers, wood stove and they got by with lanterns.  It was a farm, they had some livestock but all of it was very modest, we made our own butter, Milk from the cow, eggs were fresh and the squash were from the garden.  So much now is store bought, its all easier, but I think they have dropped a bit in taste.

“that’s Amazing” I said.

We pulled in near Woodland Park Zoo, she stood up and walked towards me opening the Tupperware, Here, take a few,

“ Oh Gosh I couldn’t”  ( I have a policy of not taking food from people on the bus for obvious reasons of being too risky)

Of course you can, I want you to, please take some.

You, know, I have so much food in my bag, those look really good, she smiles and said……. Take !  I took one, and thanked her profusely, “ Merry Christmas Sir, your always so nice to me, I appreciate you.  Merry Christmas Mam, it’s my pleasure.

She stepped off and I pulled away with the muffin stored in a napkin to my left.

It was a light day in Traffic, and I couldn’t help but to think of her growing up in a cabin, no power, snow, warmth of a fire, I imagined the cabins fireplace, river rock, a Mantel made out of timber.  Her Grandmother in a calico dress and white apron with lace ( maybe I watch too much tv.)  I drove through our city of cement, steel, glass, I drove my near million dollar bus through the streets with many people, and thought how her Christmas has changed.

No power, then radio, then TV, highways , Trak housing, Moon landing, Internet… the list is huge, Her experience then is so different from her Grand daughters experience of Christmas. 

But they share a tradition,  Muffins, Muffins that have a recipe of perhaps a hundred years, maybe more as I have to think her Grandmother learned to cook from her Mom, maybe Her Grandmother, so perhaps food now isn’t what it used to be, so much now is ready made, flour, butter, pasteurized milk,  ingredients from all over the world are available now, few people grow their own food, much less cook from scratch of the level of churning their own butter, picking their own eggs.

Was fun to think about.  A new bus was waiting for me at 1st and Lander, a couple of customers quietly changed buses with me and we continued on, dropping someone occasionally. I pulled into Westwood with 1 person to drop off, Merry Christmas he said, I waved back and wished him the same.

I lifted the Muffin, perfect color, not a cupcake style, the old school type, that has the top.  I thought again of how old this recipe might be, I took a bit and held it in my mouth. 

I should have taken more.

Driving on Thanksgiving

Driving on Thanksgiving 

This was the first major Holiday that I drove for Metro.  I have been curious what it was like, other drivers have said they like driving the Holidays because its quiet, traffic is light and overall an easy day. 

I started Route 21 at Westlake Village at about 9 am.  There were no people to pick up, I continued on to my 4th stop, I picked up a woman, dressed nicely, black dress, hat, make up, high heels, as she paid her fare she wished me a Happy Thanksgiving, made her way  to about midpoint in the bus, then made herself comfortable.  She was my only passenger all the way into downtown.  

As we approached her stop, she walked up to me and said, you know, I almost called UBER, I chuckled at the comment and replied, “I’m glad you’re here, you gave my morning a reason.”  I hope you’re not driving all day and get to spend some time somewhere she said, “I drive till 4, then done I smiled.  Thanks for the ride, was very nice, Happy Thanksgiving” You too I said as she left. 

I picked up 3 homeless people at her stop, and 1 more dived into the back as the doors were closing.  Mostly, I have found the Homeless keep to themselves, today they went out of their way to wish myself and others a Happy Thanksgiving,  

There are several places that were providing meals today downtown, I stopped near those and dropped people off, picked people up.  I made my way north with just a handful of people, the gentleman that dived into the back was now stretched out on the back seat.  I drove through the Freemont neighborhood; the roads were very quiet.  I   continued to the Woodland park zoo and stopped to drop off a couple with a baby, the guy in back looked up, seemed confused leaped out the back as the doors closed.  I had no passengers to Shoreline Community College. 

I chuckled a bit. 

2nd trip back intown was about the same, easy driving, easy friendly people. 

3rd trip  back up North, I had 2 wheelchairs, both were people that I had before, 1 Just isn’t nice, I ignore his demeanor, and not try to chat with him, the other one, she likes to chat a bit much and I lose track where she is in the conversation. But what disturbs me is, she only wears a ill-fitting T shirt, very dirty, sweatpants, today she had socks, she rarely baths, but she is very nice. 

I stopped in Greenwood, drop them both off where they transfer to another bus, I pick up a guy dressed in a painters jump suit, ( white plastic) he is wearing green wooly socks no shoes, long beard, and crying, He is walking like his feet hurt and I ask if he needs some medical attention….. He sobs in his hands and yells how it’s all BS and he never took that stuff; he approaches my till and pulls out wads of cash and tries to find something less than 20s to pay his fare…. I hand him a transfer and said, this is on me today. He goes back to his seat and leans his head back and wails, wails…… loud sobs, I call this in, I’m concerned he may hurt himself, I try to communicate with him but can’t seem to connect, I stop just passed Holman road, he runs out.   

I sit a moment and gather my breath; the other passenger looks at me through the mirror and we both shake our heads.   

As she leaves a few stops later, she just says, wow. Take care. You too, thank you. 

My last trip was pretty slow, still not many people, the community kitchens had served their food, and the people from them with their left overs were sharing, making sure myself and others were offered Turkey, potatoes, pie, they were caring and communicating more than on other days.  

I found it pleasurable. 

Route 11

Route 11 starts in the Madison Park area. This is a wealthier neighborhood, Waterfront property in Seattle is plentiful but very pricey. Houses and yards are very well kept. This is a neighborhood where Interior Designers, Architects and Landscape Architects, Caterers, Craftsmen of all kinds have made their mark and therefor their living in. Sidewalks are always clean.

   Route 11 is a loop route, meaning you go to one end, then come back without going onto another route.  These routes are comparatively short but done for the reason of higher density.  I particularly enjoy this route because of its path through several different types of neighborhoods.

  Route 11 starts in the Madison Park area.  This is a wealthier neighborhood, Waterfront property in Seattle is plentiful but very pricey.   Houses and yards are very well kept.  This is a neighborhood where Interior Designers, Architects and Landscape Architects, Caterers, Craftsmen of all kinds have made their mark and therefor their living in.   Sidewalks are always clean. 

I had been driving this route on Saturdays, which I understand is a “lighter day” to be driving.  Because of Madison Parks high density parking is tough so even the well to do ride the bus, its easier.  The route starts on 42nd, Usually picking up grandparents and grandkids going into the city, they let the young one pay in cash as I welcome them onto the bus and hand them the transfers. 

We drive through these stylish and well kept homes to Madison ave.  Take a right and start up the hill, we pass Bistros, Coffee shops, Boutiques, high end grocery store, Fashion houses and Interior Design stores.  As we go up the hill we start to pass condos and a golf course.  A few miles up and we arrive at the entrance to the Arboretum,   one of Seattle’s very large parks known for its amazing landscapes, historical trees and vegetation that stretches to Lake Washington, the Arboretum also hosts our oldest Japanese Garden, a place of unique beauty well known for its full moon tea celebrations with Koto music, large pond with schools of Koi and many turtles.  Families and tourists often get off here, grab some coffee and walk to the garden.

We head up the hill past more condos and into the “central area” which historically had been one of Seattles Urban neighborhoods that in the last couple of decades because of our tech industry, has become quite gentile.

At the top of the Hill is Capitol Hill.  Capital Hill is the center of our LGTB community.  Every weekend of the summer there is some kind of community gathering, music, art festivals, food, parades of all types. Sidewalks and crosswalks are painted in rainbows, restaurants and bars, retail shops and services are mostly geared towards the young and hip. 

This is a fun area for me, because here I will pick up all kinds and types of people, from the wealthy to the homeless.  Tattoo’s, piercings, gender mixes, clothing styles, hair color, even the dogs have colored hair and extreme style. It’s a nice break from the daily commuters going to work who dress rather conservatively.  A day in this area will demonstrate that there is all kinds of ways to enjoy being human.

From Broadway we head down the hill into the city, we cross the freeway pass our Historical Paramount Theater, Saturdays there are matinees of musicals, the evening will be music and comedians.  Then we head into our retail district, Westlake Mall, Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, high end clothing, perfumes, jewelry.  The sidewalks are full of people shopping, sightseeing and street performers. I open the doors and listen to all the bustle. There are singers with loudspeakers, guitar players, Chinese musicians, horn players, drummers, stand still performers in extravagant costumes, magicians, jugglers, it all happens here. 

I nudge myself through traffic to 2nd avenue and drop off locals and tourists who are on their way to Pike Place Market, a world class farmers market to pickup fresh food, flowers, Knick knacks and more restaurants

I take a left to finish the half of the loop and begin to head back, picking up the people going back home, or to the Arboretum, or Lake Washington. 

I drive through our Convention Center where there is an event almost daily and most certainly on weekends.  Busy, Busy, Busy.  Drivers say they get dizzy from this route.  Its not so much its circle as it is amazing variety of  people and places.

Shared Stories

Seattle is a large city, people coming and going from all parts of the world, all stages in life, all of us have stories that begin, develop, continue then end. Bus stops are like frames from Zoetrope’s

To drive for Metro means that you have a certain understanding of the humor and tragedy of the people you see.  There is a level of empathy that we share through it all.  It might be because we are up close and see these people and talk to them, it might be something that Metro see’s in us and that’s why we are hired.

I have made numerous connections with other drivers, from the ones I was in training class, to the ones I see around the base, and the ones I work with loading Orca cards. 

When we load Orca cards it’s a 4-hour shift with another person, and you get to know them pretty well, and in all human situations you connect with some stronger than others. 

Often these connections are made because of our stories we share about driving, and we find each other to have a similar level of humor and empathy for the people we have encountered.

Some stories affect us deeply.

My friend Juda shared with me today.

“Was pretty much a normal day, I was picking up people, and you know how they are, you say “good morning” to everyone and only a few hear, or say it back, their busy doing what they do.

A middle aged Asian lady got on my bus, she was dressed professionally, clean, her body language was bent over, and a bit timid, then I noticed she had a very bad clefted lip, it went as far up into her sinus area, I said “good morning” to her as I looked her in the eye, I read something in her eyes that seemed she didn’t get recognized often, she said “good morning” back and went to a seat in the front, and put her head down immediately.  I was taken by her body language, she seemed to hide, It made me think of the situation she must be in, kids don’t have filters and ask their parents why she looks like that, and lets be honest, not all adults are kind and their reactions of disgust must hit her hard.  She must have had to deal with this her whole life. Why, I wondered, here in the US would someone have to have this situation… and other countries people are shunned….

She came up to me when we came to her stop, she thanked me for saying “good morning”

I looked her in the eye and said, your welcome, my eyes acknowledged her, we connected.

She has a problem she lives with everyday with no relief, she never gets away from it. 

It helped me see the difference from a problem, and a situation. that I have no real problems, I have situations.

I changed that day, I think of her when issues come up and it helps put it in perspective, I share this with other drivers.

We have reasons, a purpose in life, I’m not sure what these things are, but sometimes seeing something and feeling something that connects us makes sense of things.”

I took in his story, asked if I could share this with you.

He said, “please do, it changed me”.

Her story is ongoing, and we witness others who’s problems are ongoing or develop.

On 3rd and Madison a middleaged man first scanned his card with me sometime in July, I remember because he was particularly friendly and talkative and liked a womans dog that was shaking because of all the noise going on at the bus stop. after that, he was gone a few weeks then appeared again, but missing his right arm.

His short sleeve hid the length of what was left and he didn’t say hello back or say a word as I scanned his card.

Now during the second week of September, he has appeared again with an artificial arm.  He didn’t scan his card this time nor did he interact with anyone, including the dog, who is still scared by all the noise at a bus stop.

Which brings me to Gus.

Gus is a lab mix who was rescued from a kill shelter in Texas.

Gus just met his forever home partner at the  Sea Tac airport today and on his way to his new home by bus.   Gus is over 12, black fur, grey muzzle, just a tad overweight and a bit arthritic.  His front teeth are missing from chewing on a chain link fence.  He has scars on his nose, legs and ears that are believed he received from being a bait dog.

Gus seems to know his life has taken a turn for the better and loves that people are saying hi to him. He loves his new life partner as she shares with everyone his story and how she met him for the first time at the airport and he hugged and cried when he met her.  She is still flushed, his tail hasn’t stopped wagging, Gus and the people around him know that from today on, his life is going to be awesome.

Seattle is a large city, people coming and going from all parts of the world, all stages in life, all of us have stories that begin, develop, continue then end.  Bus stops are like frames from Zoetrope’s

One piece that is part of the story.