Some Interesting People

During a late winter weekday I pulled into the stop by the Mission, it’s a busy stop, several bus routes stop there and its near the stadiums and international district. Mostly it is a stop used by homeless and people of various abilities.

In my first few months of driving I had a situation come up and wasn’t aware of a proper procedure to handle the situation or if there was one, so I did my best to deal with it.  This story is not for sensitive readers due to its explicit nature and sexual content. I chose to write the story as it happened and use the words spoken to me.

During a late winter weekday I pulled into the stop by the Mission, it’s a busy stop, several bus routes stop there and its near the stadiums and international district.  Mostly it is a stop used by homeless and people of various abilities.

This day, I picked up several people, two of them It struct me as the guy, and his case worker, he seemed straight off the street, and she was dressed in nice jeans, carrying a leather bag but wearing a white T shirt and no bra… ( I mentioned its late Winter) They sit in front and I hear them talk, she is relying on him to take her to a certain bus stop, he is assuring her he will make sure she gets there, a few stops later a friend of his boards the bus and they talk, he introduces his friend to her and he gets off at the next stop explaining that his friend will take her the rest of the way. He seems respectful and nice as he tries to get to know her, she gets angry with him, “ I don’t know you, I don’t trust you, leave me alone,”  He’s embarrassed by her outburst, apologizes says he’s not going to hurt her, this doesn’t work so he moves to the back of the bus.  She approaches me and asks if she can stand by me as she doesn’t trust “that man”  I tell her of course, you can stay here, you’ll be fine, we start a bit of small talk, she tells me she just lost her place and last night was her first night on the street.  “I’m sorry” I said, that sounds rough, “I was raped” she said, What? I asked… are you OK? I can call someone get them to meet us… “NO, she said, I just… not trusting anyone right now” I know of a women’s shelter I can drop you off at, but its not until I head back into town……  “I know where I want to go, I’ll just stay here for now, OK I said.  We got to the end of the route, I needed to use the restroom, she followed me into the store and waited for me to come back out and followed me back to my bus for my break.  We chatted a little about how she lost her job, an ex-screwed her over with money and it was time to begin my next run.  I start down the road and have just a couple of people on the bus, she leans closer to me and starts describing the rape in every detail, being  held down by 4 guys and how she decided to open her mouth……  It was clear to me she was messing with me and wanted a “reaction” I told her I needed to focus on my driving and will get her to her shelter.  She left a few stops before the shelter telling me, she was ok and changed her mind.

I saw her again a few months later, she was dressed in a school girls outfit, no bra, white shirt, glasses on, pig tails and addressed me as “Hi Mr Bus Driver” again, she seemed sexually suggestive,  but a whole different personality.  I wondered how many personalities she has and if they are all sexually suggestive.

During a break on a recent Saturday, parked at my layover by the station, a man mid-40s, dark hair, wearing kakis and a back pack, that was very inebriated, knocked on my door, I hesitantly opened it and he immediately asked me why Metro drivers are so fucked….. I shook my head and started to close the door, he said, “NO, sorry, look I’m just trying to get to Ballard, and that fucker dropped me here” I see I said, ( knowing he probably was asleep and wasn’t discovered until the last stop… happens a lot) Look, to get to Ballard you’ll have to  walk to the other side of that building, use the stop there to get downtown, then det on the D Line.  He stepped on my bus and tried to walk by me, I said, no, your not getting on here…. “too late” he said, NO…. get off the bus now!  He complied, but as he stepped down and turned he said I was a vet you unamerican bastard, I was in Afghanistan, Iraq, I woulda been in Nam, but I wasn’t born yet… in fact, I’m gonna get my buddies and were gonna kill you, were gonna come to your house, burn it down and kill you… where do you live?  I started to shut the door, he stepped by to avoid the door and fell onto his back. When he hit the ground he swung his fist, didn’t hit anything, still on his back, he kicked, “FUUUCK” he yelled, Fuck you!! His kick didn’t connect with anything as he laid on the ground squirming…. (cleanest fight I had ever won)

He crawled a few feet and managed to get on his feet, walked a few steps fell over.  I called it in, described what had happened and they sent out the transit police who got him off the ground, determined he was not dangerous and left him in some bushes… Not sure what happened to him after that.

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.

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.