Somedays I wish for a Zombie Apocalypse. The good news though, Seahawks are 4-0

I have more than once heard: A society is measured by how they treat the most vulnerable.
I think it’s evident how we measure up.

I’m going to rant a little bit.
I like my job. I find it interesting. It’s a job like no other if you’re a people watcher. It’s been said that bus drivers encounter more people than Presidents or the Pope on a weekly basis.
So, that is what gives me a license to rant.
Today, 3rd and Cherry, I have seen this man several times this past year. He sits in a provided manual basic wheelchair, the kind Hospitals give to people who need them just before they are sent back into the street or shelter.
He has no legs. He is far too skinny to look healthy.
He has one arm.
He struggles to use this chair. I have seen him trying to push the wheels forward. It’s, to say the least: Awkward.
Back to today. 2 pm. He sits on the street side of the sidewalk, facing uphill on 3rd and Cherry. His head is tilted to the side, his eyes vacant. His one arm dangles next to the wheel. He looks exhausted. He is in a dangerous place as a car speeds up the hill and misses him by a couple of feet.
I see a Prostitute that I have seen with him before. They have struck me as friends, not business. She is a blond, short polyester skirt, stained with street muck, white leather jacket; blond hair pulled back. White skin that is blotchy red, she is moving as quickly towards him as she can to help him.
My light turns green. I move south on 3rd ave.
I am repulsed by what I just saw.
A man with no legs. one arm living on the streets. His best friend, a drug-addicted Prostitute, who probably has a heart of gold. Nonetheless, her occupation creates a risk to her longevity, and her obvious drug addiction also creates risk.
Why do we allow this? Is this the best we can do?
I have more than once heard; A society is measured by how they treat the most vulnerable.
I think it’s evident how we measure up.
The same trip, on 1st between Holgate and Lucile.
Another man has his sweatpants down to mid-thigh, his jockstrap is down too, he is scratching under his testicles, he sees me and tries to wave me down. He has a grin on his face, desperately tries to get me to stop.
I don’t stop; I can’t have that on my bus, I have people that I am responsible for their welfare and safety.
I drive down streets, where both sides of that street have homeless, drugged, handicapped mentally ill. These streets have garbage everywhere, decay, destruction as we build high-end high rises.

I’m a little angry at this point. I have to say, this kind of sequence of events is not outside the norm. This is the world we have built, and its no different in just about any big city across this country, and I’m sure other nations as well.
We are Irresponsible people.
I am one person; I fully admit that I do not have the money or resources to change anyone’s life. I simply have enough money to get by day to day and save a little for tomorrow and hope for the best. There is also only so many good deeds that I am capable of doing and still take care of my own life.
I recently saw the Walking Dead.
It’s a great series, not just for the acting, writing, effects, and eye candy. It’s great because of the portrayal of what happens when we don’t take care of each other.
The people in that series return to tribal status. They have found themselves with a group of people; they work for the better good. When they don’t, things predictably go wrong.
So, they bone up; they take care of each other the best way they can. It’s not always about being a better fighter, sometimes its intelligence, creativity, choosing to walk away, or learning to enjoy the moment. Every person has a place there; every person is important to their tribe.
We obviously do not do this.
We have the wealthiest nation on earth. We have the most powerful nation on earth.
We have a divided nation. The have’s are telling us, that there is nothing to be done to help the homeless, the poor, the disabled, the druggies. Nor can we afford to educate people. They say we can’t afford to help people that won’t help themselves. We cannot afford healthcare; it is not a right; it’s a privilege.
They think these people are lazy, unworthy.
They say this while the rich, the extremely rich get more tax breaks, broader control over the planet, more overall control over consumers. In other words, we spend our money foolishly on the wealthy.
We are a sick Nation, there are days I try my best in my own world to help the people around me, and I do these things selfishly because my world is better because of it. Then I feel better about my world.
I am a Seahawk fan. I am thrilled that they are now 4-0.
Isn’t it great that we have young millionaires playing a game. Owned by the super-rich who makes more money from people with enough money to buy tickets and merchandise to support this lifestyle.
( I say this knowing that so many of those players and teams do good things in their communities.)
Is this the best we can do?
Seriously, who would you rather talk to about life?
A football player, or a teacher, or a social worker. Who would give you the most wisdom regarding life?
I pull into a stop at Chinook street under the West Seattle bridge,
I lower the bus for an elderly man pushing his belongings in a rigged up cart of a dolly and plastic milk boxes.
It tips and spills his items out of the top milk box, some toilet paper, a half loaf of bread, a peanut butter jar, some clothing. He cusses. The 2nd milk box holds a pup tent. A young man with a skateboard who was waiting for his turn to board bends to help him. The old man starts to cry, and it’s obvious he is embarrassed; the young man gets things stacked again, pats him on the shoulder, then boards.
It’s about 230 pm.
I am pissed.
I have tears in my eye.
I drive slow to Avondale, where I take a left, head up a hill.
I am thinking a Zombie Apocalypse just might be deserved.
I am not kidding.

When People Dance

 

 

There is a saying, “dance like nobody is watching”

It refers to the internal struggle of accepting of who we, or you are, not to be inhibited by the stares and judgements of others.

Driving down Pine street today, passing a construction zone,  the Paramount Theatre, the Carlisle club, a Sushi restaurant, an African American man mid-30s, dressed somewhat professionally, danced in the middle of the street, halting traffic and pedestrians as people reacted to the scene with caution.

First thought of course was “drugs” there was no music if you don’t count the sound of jack hammers, car noise and the emergency response vehicle siren bouncing of buildings in echo in the background.

There was a purpose to his dance, was first hips centered above his feet his shoulders in shimmy keeping time, I could tell his dance was in 4/4, his hips subtle swing, as someone would do at a disco, his head snapped up then he left the street with flamenco steps stage right then walked as any pedestrian would down Pine street to who knows where.

Maybe someday…

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.

Burning Bush

My workmate and I chat as we scan, and often people chime in and join the conversation, we like this and we cover a lot of subjects

“What does it take to show an illustration
Of the hurt and the pain of a nation.
One glowing look upon a ragged canvas
Tells the story of our past and present situation

Maurice White, EWF

“What does it take to show an illustration
Of the hurt and the pain of a nation.
One glowing look upon a ragged canvas
Tells the story of our past and present situation

Maurice White, EWF

Seattle has its perfect summer days, the kind of days where strangers meet at bus stops and say, wow, this is perfect, not too hot, breeze is nice, you can smell the sound the sea gulls and pigeons are busy, a couple of puffy clouds, its 5 pm the sun is behind the buildings the streets are shaded and people are heading home or to out door restaurants, shopping, boating, BBQ with friends, you can feel that people want to make the most of the rest of this day.
3 days a week in the afternoon my job description is “Orca Loader” which means I scan people’s Orca cards so they can go in any door of the bus, makes it quicker and easier for everyone…. But, lets be honest, and it hasn’t gone unspoken, my job is to show a presence, be polite, watch after people answer questions and try to give a positive experience, I consider this the best time of my week because I get to watch people, talk to people interact with the “parade”.
My workmate and I chat as we scan, and often people chime in and join the conversation, we like this and we cover a lot of subjects. As we were chatting about his 94 yr old mother in law that he adores, she’s Japanese, old family, old school, came to America when she met her husband during WW2 and the rebuilding of Japan, She is doing well, insists on doing the cleaning and keeps herself busy doing what she calls “women’s work”.
Across from our stop is a TJ Max, a “hang out” of some street folk, often the ones in wheel chairs, some are otherwise “handicapped” and they mix with others they know or chat with, liquor is poured, weed is smoked, and they party until they go their way. As I watch, one guy helps a paraplegic woman drink from a bottle, he wipes her chin and they laugh at something, then a gentleman is walking across the street towards us, older man, 70ish? Small bottle of alcohol in his hand, African American, white cap on his head, clean white T shirt, cacky shorts, He says, “ you gentleman have it made, all these nice looking young ladies, you never get too old to enjoy seeing them’
It is a pleasure I said, we get to meet and chat with all kinds of nice people, Mark here and I were just talking about his mom in law and who is from Japan… “ hows she doing? He asked… “ Shes good” Mark answered, still wants to do house work everyday… “ wow” “ I was in Viet Namn he went on, was there for a long time, spent time in Malaysia, the women are lovely and good women, yes, good women” he said as he took a drink. “ I spent a lot of time in other countries he said, Ive seen a lot of stuff, I love this country, it’s a perfect day, we shoot each other , we cuss each other, but this is a great place to be.. He went on to discuss the need for gun control, “people don’t need military guns, its crazy that people in church, school , anywhere get shot down…. For no reason !

That old bush just keeps on burning
Nobody seems to show they’re learning
That old bush just keeps on burning.
I wonder will we ever feel the flame.

“it didn’t used to be like this” I said, when I grew up, there weren’t mass shootings like this
“Well,” he said, I’ve traveled a lot, I love this place anyway, people seem to hate the little things now.. hate” “we were just talking about this” Mark said, my girl is multi racial and we had to deal with a few things, but not like this, “I married a white woman” he said, “she strayed a little, but I love her and we have a good couple of kids” “Sorry dude” I said, “lts fine, been years, what do you do? As his bus arrived he took another sip from the mini bar bottle, “you guys enjoy the day, tell those pretty ladies I said hi. We waved at him, Mark moved north of the st

Our way of life on total exhibition
Shows the way in which we live of an
Imperfect nation.
This tree of life so far from perfection
Share a little love to improve our situation
”.

“Who do you work for” ?? she yelled…..
I looked around to see what was happening? “ who do you work for?? She yelled at me again,
“I work for Metro…. King County Metro Transit to be accurate… why?
“ You shouldn’t be talking to people like that” I was a bit shocked, I wondered if we had said something offensive, she was outraged….. “ did we say something offensive? I’d like to know……
“You work for the county and your talking to street trash like that!!!” I couldn’t think of anything offensive, so I asked her again, “ what did we say that offended you….. Id like to know?
“You were talking to street trash, its terrible, those people are terrible, you should be ashamed!!
My god I thought, what? I stepped away and leaned against the building, people moved from her,
I looked at her, mid 40s brunette, hair tied in back, glasses, jeans, shirt, then I saw the Trump 2020 pin. I got angry and knew I needed to shut up right now. (my job) She got on a bus , self-righteous, stepping in front of a couple of people who were in line.
I thought about the man, well mannered well spoken, a kind and likable face, He deserves that drink I thought, Vietnam vet, father, he did his time and lived his life, nothing he said was trashy or disrespectful, in fact…. I completely enjoyed my encounter. I was disgusted with myself for being off guard, breathless in the face of hate like that. This country has some serious problems.

That old bush just keeps on burning
Share the hope for future learning
I wonder will we ever feel the flame

Mission

He’s either foolish, or really good with that thing

As I took a right to continue down 3rd to reach Main street, a younger Asian male, 35-40 on a sport wheel chair, the kind used for track or basketball, the wheels are angled, he was gloved as he sped the wheels down the hill and passed me, this was the first time I had seen this man and as I watched him go down the hill and check the 4 way stop intersection and pass through without stopping, then aim at an access corner and pass an ill placed dumpster at something like 25 mph I thought he’s either foolish or really good with that thing… I hope he doesn’t go to my stop. The stop is by the Mission, usually quite a bit of dysfunction there, through the years, the Missions reputation has had its up and downs, I give them kudos for hanging in there and doing what they can.

Earlier in the week, at the corner of 3rd and Pike as I loaded Orca cards, across the street from me, a young blond girl that seemed too skinny, struggled while 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 70’s , long hair and long beard, worn jeans that sagged way down, not so whitey tidies……. He was bent forward with his butt against the building, rubbing it up and down, drooling, He had a white T shirt that appeared to not have been laundered for a while.
The blond started to cross the street towards us, buses slowed and let her go, her movements were reptilian. Think of the Chicken picking its way through the yard. She reached our stop and as people were moving out of her way and looking anywhere else, she arrived at the solar powered trash compactor, there were a couple of donuts laying at the foot of it, sun dried and pecked by pigeons then left in a crumbly pile, she reached down and broke off a piece and pecked at what she had, her blankness expression was breath taking, she then headed north up the street. 
Back at the Stop by the Mission, I pulled in and indeed the Young Asian male was there waiting, as I opened my doors he ordered, “ I don’t need the ramp, just lower, and stay in your seat…. You drive, I’ll take care of myself” I wasn’t sure at first how to react, I was concerned about not lowering the ramp as there might be some law or regulation that would put my job at risk… I decided to pay him the respect and not lower the ramp. I tilted the bus anticipating what he might do. I was just a couple inches above the curb, he tilted his chair back and pushed/hopped into the bus, handled the corner, tilted back the chairs and strapped his chair in…. 2 or 3 times quicker than I had seen it done before. I raised the bus and pulled out.
I saw him again today, same stop, he hopped on secured himself in, when we reached his stop a West Seattle Library, I lowered the bus and he hopped off and said “ have a good day bro” “enjoy the weather” I replied as I closed the doors.