Conversations with Katy

About a year ago, I pulled into my stop at 56th and 25th nw.  Katy about mid 30s who stands about 5’4, uses a walker, ski cap over her forehead and just above the eyes that are the opposite of cross eyed.  Jacket a bit too large, a scarf around her neck and pajama bottoms. Sneakers on her feet.  I kneel the bus and ask if she would like the ramp…… “Yea” she responds.  She uses the ramp as she begins her discussion.  “I need to be careful, because I fall” Oh no, take your time, be safe, “ I know, I get in trouble when I fall, I hate that”  She scoots and waddles, its apparent she has some kind of hip or leg issues.  “I gotta get my pills for my blood pressure day” OK I said. The person sitting at the front vacated the seat for her, she started to settle in, “ don’t go yet, wait till I  get seated please, I fall”  I fell about a year ago at a stop I hate that, I get in trouble”.  Oh no, I hope you were ok…. Are you ok?  “yea” I check my computer, its about 2 mins to get her loaded and seated.  We chat as I make my way down the road.  She speaks slowly, a bit loudly.  “ I gotta keep my walker near by recliner” she tells me, When I recline, then have to use the bathroom my legs fall asleep and I forget to take time to wake them, then I fall, I get into trouble when I fall.  I hate that” I guess it’s hard to be careful all the time I said.  “Yea” she said.

Mostly, our conversations go like this as I take her downtown where she transfers to another bus to her appointments.  I find her kind of funny and enjoy seeing her as she wobbles with her walker, her googly eyes, snotty nose.  Easy going and concerned that she might get in trouble if she’s not careful. She makes it to her appointments, grocery shopping, home. 

She speaks slow, her pace of the conversation stretches out between stops and sometimes she focuses her conversation on me.

About a week ago: 

“How late do you work”?  Oh, about 630 tonight.  Then is your wife making you dinner?  No, I’m not married……. I pull into a stop and start to let people on, “You’re not married”?  No…. I make it about halfway up the block. “How come”?  I don’t know I said, I pull into another stop, “Women don’t like you”?  I look at her, one of her googly eyes is behind her nit hat.  Not really, I said.  “Oh” We go up another block to a red light.  “Are you nice to them”?   Not always, I guess. The light turns green… “Maybe you should be nice, then you might get a date” Yea, I said. We pulled into a stop…. “Have you tried telling a joke?  Yea, but that doesn’t always work… another minute goes by and she asks “you’re not funny”? No. 

We arrive at her stop, I lower the ramp and she waddles off as I wish her a good night, she says “good night, Thank you”

Today I pick her up at Macys, she’s on her way to the grocery store, she complains she’s out of paper towels and has to remember to get them this time. “Ill remind you I said, “No” I can do it” I just have to remind myself, I keep my walker by my recliner, and when I get up to go to the bathroom, my legs are asleep, and I don’t give them time to wake up”  I’m wondering if this has something to do with the paper towels.  “I might have to get a caretaker, I get in trouble when I fall.

I know, I said, hate to see you get in trouble. “yea” she said.  I’m thinking that our year long of trips have sort of bonded us in a way, where I know her routine a bit, and she knows me.

  “How late do you work tonight” she asked. About 630 I said.  Is your wife making dinner tonight?  I smile and say, (and think I might dodge a bullet this time, so I lie…No, were going out tonight.

“Oh” we pull into a stop and I let some people on… “Does she make you shower before you go out”?  Yea, I said.  We make it to a light… “cause your sweaty”?

Yea, I work very hard I said. Another block… “Yea, you work hard” she sort of snickered it.  I look at her “Does she drive when you go out”?

No, I drive.  “How come”?  well, she doesn’t like to drive, I do.  “oh” we turn a corner and pick up a bit of speed.  “I need to pick up paper towels” Ill remind you when we get there…. “No, I can do it.” 

We arrive at QFC, I lower the ramp as she prepares herself to leave, “Are you nice to her”?  I always try. “There is another driver that isn’t nice, he’s single” She’s at the end of the ramp… Pick up paper towels!!  “I Know”

An older lady with blue hair blinks both her eyes at me while she leaves. I raise the ramp as Katy is waddling towards the store entrance.

Street Dogs

Street people have dogs and these dogs serve different purposes, some are companions, some are tools, some are protectors, When I see these friends walk by, I think of the bumper sticker, “who saved who”.

We have been breading dogs for as long as we have been building communities.  We have bred them in as many ways as we have built our buildings. We use them as tools and protectors, we have used them as food, we have used them as allies, they live 1/7th the length of time we do, so their evolution is traceable…. (want proof? Go look up what almost any breed looked like 75 years ago, and how they look now) and most of all, or through it all, they are our best friends. 

I’m willing to bet that every person reading this, if asked to honestly list the best friends they have had in life, a dog would be near or at the top of the list.  (or cat, but that’s another story)

Street people have dogs and these dogs serve different purposes, some are companions, some are tools, some are protectors, When I see these friends walk by, I think of the bumper sticker, “who saved who”.

I have “befriended” a few of the older ladies, over 70, they push their belongings in a cart, clothing, blankets, whatever else the shelters allow them to bring in, and their doggy bed is at the top with their little lap dog, this dog almost always has two names, one they tell the public, and the real name that is only known by people they trust…. I have no idea why this is done… what I gather is, the breed is also kept secret because people steal in shelters and they are afraid if the real breed of the dog is known, it would be stolen.  So, I usually hear it’s a Shiatzus, or Pekingese, or Poodle, but they tell everyone it’s a mutt.

One of these ladies is a Jamaican woman, she’s blind, I have picked her up and dropped her off at various points around the city.  We talk a bit, She tells me her son lives in Lynwood and is doing very well, her dog is very sweet, slow licks to those that are allowed to pet her, blind, missing most of its teeth, arthritic to a point where walking is difficult, she has towels on the bed that her dog pees on.  She totes on her dog hand feeding of chicken and other veggies, her little dog is everything good in her life.  I have thought of how difficult it is to lose a pet even in normal conditions, I wonder if her dog wanders to the rainbow bridge how she will do.  

The Tool category:  This can be any dog, usually medium size and approachable, they have a sign, “I’m homeless, my dog needs to eat, or, my human needs to eat” please help” the sign works here in Seattle, we love our dogs here. Some of the dogs actually wag their tale if you give money, not sure if this is trained or if they make the connection…. dogs are smart creatures; I think they know stuff about us.

One of these dogs has a gentleman for his friend, they often sleep in Yesler Park, he uses a sleeping bag and blanket, one morning I was walking by and the dog was in the bag with his friend, head out of the bag, both were snoring, a paper plate and an empty dog food can were next to them.

Protectors:  to me, these are the scary ones and I have seen some bad combos on the streets.  A short white guy with lots of tattoos, bald head, pointed beard wears chains.  He has a beast of a dog, huge Pitbull mixed with what I’m guessing is a mastiff.  Often I have seen this dog muzzled as the man is pulled behind, the dog is ok unless another dog gets too close, then a lunge happens and so far no damage has been done but I figure it’s a matter of time before some poor dog is killed, and I have to wonder where these two spend their nights, no shelter would take this dog in.  From what I can tell, this guy would be safe anywhere with this dog.  This dog has some scars from bites, I believe it either protects him, or is used to raise money by fighting.