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. 

The Blend

You can be anonymous here on the streets. People enter and leave the streets through Doors that open and close on buildings, cars and buses, reflections on windows trace their paths then blend to the others.

You can be anonymous here on the streets. People enter and leave the streets through Doors that open and close on buildings, cars and buses, reflections on windows trace their paths then blend to the others.  Telephones to their ears people are stretched between two places.  Sounds of engines, sirens, voices, smells of weed, popping corn, meat being cooked, garlic, coffee, surround the colors of  blurring vehicles, advertising, traffic lights, so much can distract and detach others from you, your presence no matter how you look, smell, or sound becomes subtle here, your usual impact, then retraction or compassion from others dissipates and you are accepted as part of the background. This is where you can be part of the parade, normal, unseen unaffected. 

I watch people, over time I see some enter the streets on what might be their first week or so, then begin to become street people, they change, its unavoidable.

A young woman maybe 20 something walks by with her sleeping bag, pillow rolled and wrapped with a bungee, bags and large purse is hanging from her arms. She say’s “pardon me” as she steps through the crowd.  She is attractive with her clear skin, long brown hair, her eyes are kind, I see one red mark on her forearm, and I hope the best for her.

I’m approached by a man who has been on the streets for what looks like decades, I have seen him before, long hair matted into filth and litter ridden dreadlocks, splotchy beard, long black overcoat over a torn and dirty t shirt.  He wears black sweatpants under his jeans that are at his ankles, tennis shoes, one blue, one somewhat white, no socks.  He mumbles incoherently but I keep an eye lock with him, I look for someone in there and I hope I can see him.  He mumbles, I wonder if he still has the ability to speak English, then he tells me “you fucking smell, your gross”.  “I look down at my belly and I say, yea, I have let myself go a bit” “You need to get a job” he tells me then stumbles off.

The following week I see the girl walk up the street asking for money, she has her sleeping bag over her shoulder, no pillow no other bags, just her purse. More marks on her arm and she stumbles on the building side of the crowd.

A young black man I have been watching, he attracted my attention because he wears a scarf in all weather, he is large, over 6’2” and closing in on 350lbs. He has an unkept afro, blue jean shorts, light jacket and red tee shirt, as he walks by I can see he has tumors that look like intestines hanging from his neck. His legs and arms have medical patches and there are red blotches on his skin.  He walks by, his eyes focused on something far ahead.  Several weeks go by and I am driving in the morning, I arrive at 3rd and Pike.  He is in a wheelchair now, I lower the ramp and bring him on, his smell is overwhelming, it’s not just body odor, his skin is rotting.  He wears the same scarf where the tumors now hang down farther, his coat is gone and his shirt is filthy  and torn. He has a video game in his hands and he’s bright, friendly, kid like with a huge smile as he says “damn, almost had it” ( to no one in particular)  I strap in his chair and see his legs now are bloated, red, painful looking, and the smell is taking over, I hold my breath and worry about the other passengers,  a woman sitting behind him discretely opens her purse and quietly sprays him with a very nice perfume. I continue up Pike Street and see the girl leaning her bare butt against a building, pants on the ground,  she finishes her pee and pulls wipes out of her bag and cleans herself. Her arms are pocked with red blotches. She doesn’t have her sleeping bag, her hair is a mess and people walking by pretend not to notice.

On the streets you  can an escape for for a while, it’s a place where we can lose ourselves amongst the colors, the sounds, the smells, our reflections on windows blend with others.

Transit Transients

I have been driving for Metro for about a year and a half now, Love this job. Driving has always been fun for me, and adding on the parade of people on a daily basis in a large beautiful city like Seattle, is the extra foam on my Macchiotto. Thank you for dropping by…. I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I do.

Three afternoons a week 3rd and Pine is my bus stop to load Orca cards, I watch people come and go, and have come to regard this as “the Parade”. Friday as I arrived a homeless man had been sleeping on the sidewalk for a reported 3 hours, a puddle of Urine had started to leak out from beneath his pack….I called it in , a supervisor arrived and let me know they had moved this guy earlier that day.
At the crosswalk another man was pushing his wheel chair that had run out of power, I ran over to help him out of the street .. he had been pushing it for a few blocks with no where to plug it in to get a quick charge and no one helped him, as I got him off the street he was so out of breath he could hardly speak, I pushed his chair to his shelter… The Police and Aid cars were busy at the McDonalds entrance with a person that overdosed…..
There were a small herd of pigeons picking at food droppings, one of the smaller ones only had a stump for a leg, no foot and painfully hobbled, came across a crumb and was pushed away by a bigger healthier pigeon….
A retired couple from Czechoslovakia asked me for directions to the Museum of Flight…… they loved Alaska and were looking forward to seeing more of Seattle until they flew into New York to visit relatives……… A woman of plus 70 with a cane gave a young 20s girl some kind of muffin from her bag….. Young lovers met there after work embraced as though it had been days, a bicyclist with a speaker turned up too loud rode by too fast bumped a young mans pack, skidded to a stop and apologized…… another man that resembled the guy that plays aqua-man had a huge Newfoundland, black with paws larger than my hands were getting attention and praise…….
a Seagull dropped his mark next to a small group of Chinese women that made them laugh as they stepped back…..
This was about 45 mins on Friday.

I have been driving for Metro for about a year and a half now, Love this job. Driving has always been fun for me, and adding on the parade of people on a daily basis in a large beautiful city like Seattle, is the extra foam on my Macchiotto. Thank you for dropping by…. I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I do.