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.

Route 40

You’re not alone, your dog goes with you. In the Jungle, there are dog parks, dog cafes, where people meet and exchange info or relax. Fast food is being redefined as healthy food and is being served up quickly, vegetables and fruit is passed out for free off food carts to walk by’s. Workers are dressed in Jeans and comfortable shoes, tee shirts and button downs. Facial hair, people who are trimmed well, and those that are not. It seems to be all about come as you are.

Route 40 might be one of the more interesting and diverse routes.

It travels from Northgate Mall, (1st Suburban Mall in America) to Downtown Seattle.

I can’t talk about route 40 without mentioning Paul Allen.

Paul Allen might be best known for being a cofounder of Microsoft.  Here in Seattle he is loved for keeping the Seahawks in town, saving them from moving to another city by an owner who was only interested in the profit.  Paul made sure the Seahawks were Seattle’s team by being the perfect owner: Deep pockets and forward thinking enough where he truly believed the Seahawks home was in the hearts of the 12th man.

A new stadium was built, state of the art, a practice facility was built, state of the art.

He enacted a business plan to attract players that included that they would be treated well.   He as much as any of the players won our Superbowl and there by securing Seattle’s Sea Hawk worship.

Paul Allen didn’t stop there, he invested in South Lake Union, he saw an opportunity for growth and development for our high-tech industry made a deal with Amazon and buildings that would house people and offices were built. Amazon being what they are, were not interested in just business as usual, as much as they have changed retail, they are also changing the way business is done.  When you go into what I call the Amazon Jungle, you walk about 20 years into the future of how we will do office work.  Spaces there are less about cubicles and more about being able to move person to person.  You’re not alone, your dog goes with you.  In the Jungle, there are dog parks, dog cafes, where people meet and exchange info or relax.  Fast food is being redefined as healthy food and is being served up quickly, vegetables and fruit is passed out for free off food carts to walk by’s. Workers are dressed in Jeans and comfortable shoes, tee shirts and button downs.  Facial hair, people who are trimmed well, and those that are not.  It seems to be all about come as you are.

Starting at Northgate Mall I head south and west over to North Seattle Community College where I drop a few students and teachers, pick up commuters and continue west.  I cross Aurora, stop, pick up a few more commuters and some street people, head towards Ballard. First is our Crown Hill district Dicks Drive Inn will be on my left, ( another Seattle Landmark, the burgers are not to be missed) a couple of grocery stores, restaurants, ma and pa businesses mixed with apartments and condos.

Taking a right onto 85th, I’m driving in a neighborhood with a mixture of homes from different era’s.  Arts and Crafts, Modern, International, NW contemporary, mostly a higher income neighborhood.  Here I’m picking up older commuters or students.

As I head South on 24th towards Ballard, I pick up groups of people and start to see the dogs who come with their mates to work for Amazon.  I like to be introduced to these dogs and claim the dog’s way of paying fare is to say hi to me…. Some lick my hand, some like to be petted.  Gigi a toy poodle kisses me on my cheek. A young man with a Borzoi has no interest in me or anyone else and enters my bus as his partner pays human fare.  A squiggly mutt is happy to see everyone, and this is the best day enters and wines as people reach down to say hi to him, his mom says good morning as she giggles at her dog.

In Ballard on Market street a few more commuters then I head south towards downtown Freemont, I pick up more people, a few leave who work at google, or facebook, or leave to enjoy shopping, or a walk by the Ballard Locks.

I go over the Freemont Bridge and hope that it doesn’t stop traffic, raise and let a ship pass.  I head south past lake Union, past marinas, restaurants, high end Condos with fantastic views of Lake Union.  (Lake Unions Gasworks park is where Seattle has its 4th of July fireworks).  When I reach South Lake Union my bus is often at standing room capacity.  I start dropping people off in the Amazon Jungle at dog parks and cafes, office buildings and workspaces.  Seattle’s diversity is on display here, its progressive acceptance of all that is human, people from all parts of the world, gays, lesbians, transgenders, black, white, brown, all cultures and back grounds come here to do business. Most are younger than 40, they have their computers, tablets and smart phones. They are dressed casually and behave professionally and are personable.  Their Dogs wag tails and are part of this parade.

I tell people that to come here is to see what business would be like 20 or 30 years from now.  I hope the world truly does follow this path, and I believe Paul Allen is as proud of this accomplishment as any of his.

I drive up to 3rd ave and drive south, by then its just a few people, a couple of commuters and street folk, they go where they need to go, then the bus is mine while I lay over at one our bases.