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…

Tuesday Morning

 

Capital Hills Broadway ave was misty at 7am, late June the sky grey, the weather shelter dripping dew and mist as the couple dressed in grey hoodies, blue jeans, tennis shoes, she 5-4 native American, he was 5-8 or less, white, stocky build, standing together her arm in his, his arm around her.  Her face beaten, bruised, swollen, his eye is black, his fists are freshly scared, arms of his hoodie is torn. He stands tall, waves for me to stop, I open the back door for them, they move to a seat in back, he sits by the window raises his arm as she sits in, her head on his chest she reaches his across and rests it on his shoulder.  He pulls her close, she closes her eyes and begins to fall asleep while he gazes out the window.

Taking a right to face the city, laid out down grade to Puget Sound crossed by Tankers, Ferries, Fishing boats.  Grey granite, stone, marble, glass, forming Obelisks, rectangles pushed edge to edge speaks to the subtle battling violence claiming status of commerce. Boarded and Locked doors, darkened glass fortresses. Taxi’s, Car’s, Bike’s, Buses open, close exchanging friends and foes like bridges over moats.

Route 106

We start 106 in front of Seattle’s Historic Union Station, pick up mostly elderly people up that have been grocery shopping. It’s a busy stop, some days 20-30 people with push carts and bags, all very polite as they greet you with bows and hello’s as they make their way to their seat.

Route 106 travels through several historical areas, International District or “China Town” which was before World War 2 referred to as “Japan Town” then runs via “Rainier Avenue” to the nearby suburb city named Renton. 

The International District’s Story is largely the Asian immigration story of Seattle, of which, Seattle could not have been built.

Through Seattle’s growth the International District may have changed  nick names, some configurations have changed, but through it all it has provided mostly the center of Asian Culture or, starting point for many families through immigration programs, grocery stores, restaurants, places of worship, Museums, Galleries.  Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Filipino, Laotian all have interests there. 

We start 106 in front of Seattle’s Historic Union Station, pick up mostly elderly people up that have been grocery shopping.  It’s a busy stop, some days 20-30 people with push carts and bags, all very polite as they greet you with bows and hello’s as they make their way to their seat.

We head east on Jackson picking up a few more shoppers as we turn South on Rainier Ave to begin dropping off our shoppers at nearby condos, apartments, houses. 

 We take a right and face South on Rainier, the view of Mt Rainier commands attention over buildings, cars, people, as we pass through the busy shops, immigration offices and services.  

Martin Luther King Way intersects with Rainier, as we follow it South, the route keeps it’s immigration feel as we pass newer East African neighborhoods with their restaurants, galleries, places of worship and community centers.

Martin Luther King way offers several stops for our Link Rail system, Townhomes, condos and apartments create a lot of density as well a number of streetlights as we continue south.

We take a quick turn east as we begin our way through Renton via Rainier Beach, then up a hill to the somewhat quiet Skyway neighborhood that offers some spectacular views of Lake Washington and while looking North, the Seattle Skyline.

Skyway is a neighborhood that has a great mix of homes, new, modest, lavish often we are picking, dropping off students and commuters of all ages. 

We head East on Renton Ave, then South dropping off the last of our riders at the Renton Transit Station located just south of Lake Washington, Renton Municipal Airport meant for smaller planes.

There are shops, condos attached to the Transit Center.  People transfer to other routes or pick up their cars as they continue on their way.

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.

Ode to Mrs. Furbush

I was sitting in her Living room interviewing for the position, I was looking at a number of beautiful antiques……

My first real career was an Interior Designer.  I struggled to understand the concept of designing for others, as in some way’s it’s an extreme invasion privacy.  A designer’s mission is to fully understand the clients esthetic tastes then somehow turn it into the home of their dreams.

Learning about them is what I struggled with, until I met Mrs. Furbush.

I was sitting in her Living room interviewing for the position, I was looking at a number of beautiful antiques, art, Knick knacks and asked her, “what is your favorite piece”?  She told me about a chair she would read stories to her now grown daughter, a table where her son fixated on studying… a Lamp her husbands mother had, then her eyes lit as she talked about her Grandmothers Tea Set.  Her and Grandmother drank tea together from this set ( what’s left of it) and later she inherited it and used it almost everyday…. “ I used this during the war she said.  I was an actress in London at the time of the bombing, one night during a performance, the bombs were shaking the building, several chandeliers and tiles fell, we kept the play going. Afterwards when I came back to my dressing room a number of things were destroyed by fallen tiles, but this tea set survived.” She had tears in her eyes.  I felt the moment with her, then we talked about how we could design the condo around the tea cup, pull the colors onto the walls, use a similar pattern on the drapery, paint one of the scenes (deer) onto the fireplace.

So much happened during this project, we became great friends and the project was one of my best because it was so personal, every item and color had purpose.

I began to piece it all together, the items we have, we wear are stories about us. 

I had spent many hours at airports, shopping malls, walking the streets observing people, 7 years at an Art School, but it took Mrs. Furbush to bring the attention of all the symbolism we carry in our lives.

I understood people make decisions about items with purpose, whether they know it or not, there is a reason they dress the way they do, or live the way they do, have homes the way they do. 

In my mind now possessions are not shallow things, we like items for a reason, and that reason my have historical significance to it. Money doesn’t matter in all this, my most precious item is a Christmas ornament that is from my fathers first Christmas of 1921. Glass bird, worn out, thin, missing feathers for its tail, but I cherish it for all the reasons you can imagine and cannot.

Not long ago, a woman boarded my bus, she was holding a sweater to her face and crying into it. She struggled to sit at the front.  I didn’t have many people, Mam, are you ok?  She spoke in broken Latino English, my mammy just died, they just told me, she sobbed, broken, unashamed about her state in front of strangers, This is all I have of hers, she lives away, she cried. An older woman sitting across from her moved to sit next to her, put her arms around her and held her as she cried. 

I felt the pain as I pulled away and across the West Seattle Freeway bridge.  I thought of my moms death and fought the tears that all of us were fighting.  The woman hugged the woman next to her, left our bus a few miles later, able to walk and breath. 

It was an old sweater, worn and not many would consider it pretty… to the woman who just lost her mom, it meant her childhood, her family, it was everything she sees the world through.  It is irreplaceable.

The next day was the beginning of my weekend.  I have teacups that belonged to my mother and grandmother.

I made tea that morning…. I thought of Mrs. Furbush, my Mother, my Grandmother. 

70th and Love and Marriage

Well, my 2nd ex just bought me dinner and drinks…….

In Ballard, stopping at Market Street, 3 or 4 people loaded immediately, as I was closing the door I heard a voice call, “Wait” A man, 70s, white beard, dressed in jeans, work boots, baseball cap, for some reason, I thought “Sailor” started to enter my bus, “sorry, I’m moving slow” your doing fine, “its my 70th today” wow, Happy Birthday! “thank you, I made it” he said as he slipped his dollar in the till and I handed him his transfer.  He stood by my chair, I asked, you gonna celebrate?

“Well, my 2nd ex, just bought me dinner and drinks” Nice I said, cool of her, “yeah, we have always kept in touch, she was 2nd out of 3….. 1st one, I was too young, we were too young, my 2nd, well, 15 years was enough” 3rd? I said, “She died a couple years ago” sorry man, “its ok, this one was always ok, tonight was steak at my favorite bar, she bought me a bunch of shots, I’m a bit tipsy” you seem fine, I said, “about 7 or 8, I asked her if this meant she was staying tonight” I chuckled and looked at him, hmm, “yeah, she kissed me on the cheek, and said, no, sweetheart, I wanted to get you those shots so your hung over tomorrow, that’s my gift to you,

 she paid the bill and left me there, she always seems to get the upper hand” …….. I had to laugh.

A buddy of mine since childhood married his childhood sweetheart and have been married since they were in their early 20s…. He would bring up times when he felt he knew he was married, Kids, 1st purchase of a house, things like that  seemed to be reminders to him, I didn’t know if he was keeping track of what they did, or these things made the marriage seem more real.  In their 20th year together he was confiding in me how things had changed… Yeah, love was still there, but sex wasn’t what it used to be, and on a Sunday morning after a session together, draperies were closed, lights were off and they were talking and laughing about how their bodies had changed, softer, more folds, patches of padding,   Home, Kids, college funds, careers, friends, families, these kinds of subjects came up during sex, that morning their discussion led to how intertwined their lives were and marriage was not what they expected, but what they had hoped for, and talked about how sex seemed to become both a discussion of tasks as well as a physical connection. They were happy,  While he was laying on his back and she sitting on his stomach, she taps his chest right on his breast plate, her finger beads a drop of sweat, she leans down and taps again with her ear to his chest, she brings her lips to his ear and says softly “if you ever leave me,  I’ll stab you in the Heart…Do you understand, the Heart.” 

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.

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.

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. 

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.