Somedays I wish for a Zombie Apocalypse. The good news though, Seahawks are 4-0

I have more than once heard: A society is measured by how they treat the most vulnerable.
I think it’s evident how we measure up.

I’m going to rant a little bit.
I like my job. I find it interesting. It’s a job like no other if you’re a people watcher. It’s been said that bus drivers encounter more people than Presidents or the Pope on a weekly basis.
So, that is what gives me a license to rant.
Today, 3rd and Cherry, I have seen this man several times this past year. He sits in a provided manual basic wheelchair, the kind Hospitals give to people who need them just before they are sent back into the street or shelter.
He has no legs. He is far too skinny to look healthy.
He has one arm.
He struggles to use this chair. I have seen him trying to push the wheels forward. It’s, to say the least: Awkward.
Back to today. 2 pm. He sits on the street side of the sidewalk, facing uphill on 3rd and Cherry. His head is tilted to the side, his eyes vacant. His one arm dangles next to the wheel. He looks exhausted. He is in a dangerous place as a car speeds up the hill and misses him by a couple of feet.
I see a Prostitute that I have seen with him before. They have struck me as friends, not business. She is a blond, short polyester skirt, stained with street muck, white leather jacket; blond hair pulled back. White skin that is blotchy red, she is moving as quickly towards him as she can to help him.
My light turns green. I move south on 3rd ave.
I am repulsed by what I just saw.
A man with no legs. one arm living on the streets. His best friend, a drug-addicted Prostitute, who probably has a heart of gold. Nonetheless, her occupation creates a risk to her longevity, and her obvious drug addiction also creates risk.
Why do we allow this? Is this the best we can do?
I have more than once heard; A society is measured by how they treat the most vulnerable.
I think it’s evident how we measure up.
The same trip, on 1st between Holgate and Lucile.
Another man has his sweatpants down to mid-thigh, his jockstrap is down too, he is scratching under his testicles, he sees me and tries to wave me down. He has a grin on his face, desperately tries to get me to stop.
I don’t stop; I can’t have that on my bus, I have people that I am responsible for their welfare and safety.
I drive down streets, where both sides of that street have homeless, drugged, handicapped mentally ill. These streets have garbage everywhere, decay, destruction as we build high-end high rises.

I’m a little angry at this point. I have to say, this kind of sequence of events is not outside the norm. This is the world we have built, and its no different in just about any big city across this country, and I’m sure other nations as well.
We are Irresponsible people.
I am one person; I fully admit that I do not have the money or resources to change anyone’s life. I simply have enough money to get by day to day and save a little for tomorrow and hope for the best. There is also only so many good deeds that I am capable of doing and still take care of my own life.
I recently saw the Walking Dead.
It’s a great series, not just for the acting, writing, effects, and eye candy. It’s great because of the portrayal of what happens when we don’t take care of each other.
The people in that series return to tribal status. They have found themselves with a group of people; they work for the better good. When they don’t, things predictably go wrong.
So, they bone up; they take care of each other the best way they can. It’s not always about being a better fighter, sometimes its intelligence, creativity, choosing to walk away, or learning to enjoy the moment. Every person has a place there; every person is important to their tribe.
We obviously do not do this.
We have the wealthiest nation on earth. We have the most powerful nation on earth.
We have a divided nation. The have’s are telling us, that there is nothing to be done to help the homeless, the poor, the disabled, the druggies. Nor can we afford to educate people. They say we can’t afford to help people that won’t help themselves. We cannot afford healthcare; it is not a right; it’s a privilege.
They think these people are lazy, unworthy.
They say this while the rich, the extremely rich get more tax breaks, broader control over the planet, more overall control over consumers. In other words, we spend our money foolishly on the wealthy.
We are a sick Nation, there are days I try my best in my own world to help the people around me, and I do these things selfishly because my world is better because of it. Then I feel better about my world.
I am a Seahawk fan. I am thrilled that they are now 4-0.
Isn’t it great that we have young millionaires playing a game. Owned by the super-rich who makes more money from people with enough money to buy tickets and merchandise to support this lifestyle.
( I say this knowing that so many of those players and teams do good things in their communities.)
Is this the best we can do?
Seriously, who would you rather talk to about life?
A football player, or a teacher, or a social worker. Who would give you the most wisdom regarding life?
I pull into a stop at Chinook street under the West Seattle bridge,
I lower the bus for an elderly man pushing his belongings in a rigged up cart of a dolly and plastic milk boxes.
It tips and spills his items out of the top milk box, some toilet paper, a half loaf of bread, a peanut butter jar, some clothing. He cusses. The 2nd milk box holds a pup tent. A young man with a skateboard who was waiting for his turn to board bends to help him. The old man starts to cry, and it’s obvious he is embarrassed; the young man gets things stacked again, pats him on the shoulder, then boards.
It’s about 230 pm.
I am pissed.
I have tears in my eye.
I drive slow to Avondale, where I take a left, head up a hill.
I am thinking a Zombie Apocalypse just might be deserved.
I am not kidding.

Crucifix

Earlier that summer the President had people gassed out of a park so he could walk to a photo op, posing with a bible being held upside down and backwards.  When asked by the Press if that was his bible, his answer was “It’s a Bible”

 

On the corner of 1st and Lenora, South West corner there is a man passed out. Like laying on a cross,  Arms stretched out, legs stretched straight, and downhill, shoes had been kicked to the side, his face staring straight to the sky, mouth open eyes closed,  he slowly begins to get soaked as a light rain has started, his empty liquor bottle rests against the building next to him.

A ferry blows its horn from the dock below, as a car heading south on 1st rushes by whooshing a puddle that just misses the man.

Speakers are blaring Bible quotes spoke in a foreign language by a young group of men I believe are fundamentalist,  they hold the bible,  dressed in purple and gold Toga’s  the crowd walking by them are mostly homeless and druggers There is no interaction between the two groups it’s as if they are from two dimensions sharing the same street.

A young couple begin to cross the street towards the man, think better of it as they decide to go around him instead.

His mouth has gathered enough rain to choke and wake him, he spits out a bit as he lowers his head again, this time with his mouth closed. I see him blink a couple of times then return to his sleep.

I check my phone, then facebook, there is a post that has a picture of a Black Jesus, and a White Jesus, the caption reads, if Jesus was Black, would White men be Christians?

Below that pic is a cross that says, remember the Crucifix

She Sells Flowers

 

 

Flowers picked from roadside green spaces, Snap Dragons, Paint Brush, Cow Parsnip, Cut leaf, Coralroot, cut, arranged in found bottles that had been rinsed, but not washed, whiskey, mayonnaise, mustard, mason, whatever bottle found then arranged by height, 20 or so, the tallest in the back, short in front, a handful of flowers in each, not too many, less is more, amongst the offering of arrangements, small hand size American flags, coasters of the Space Needle.

A Red White and Blue ribbon weaves its way through the back row of flowers, the display sits on a tie dye silk throw

Her Mid length, non-washed brown curly hair holds to her head like a helmet, Green and white pin striped button down shirt, holes in the elbows, missing buttons reveal a black bra, her jeans dirty, worn in the knees, rolled cuffs, dirty feet wearing whitish sandals. I think she was once attractive.

How much for the arrangement in back? She didn’t look me in the eye as she said “the ones in back are $7 comes with the vase”

I like the one in the Jack Daniels bottle, “Lovely” she said as she reached for the jar, handed it to me with her eyes down, her body odor was strong, it had a back odor of excrement.

She had a small wagon that I believed carried her goods, her purse sitting in it. She reached for it after I paid her.  She struggled to slip the money in, a needle fell out, the kind they hand out for free at the clinics, orange tip and cap.

I had seen her on Broadway for over a week now and curious about her goods spread out, the staging was attractive, the arrangements seemed to be done with the “right touch”

I was driving by today when I decided to make a visit.

I think she is an artist at heart, there are people who you look at, see their work and it fits together, yes, you can tell they painted that.

As I walked away, I admired my new flowers, beautiful in their contrast of something pretty and something that was used and thrown away as garbage, unwashed, taken to be used for something perhaps better.

Walking towards the train station, a bike road by me, the handle bar hit my elbow I dropped, then breaking my vase on the cement.

I kicked the bottle together, picked up the large shrouds of glass, threw it away in a garbage can.

Ill buy again from her, maybe she will show me her eyes.

The Beautiful

Somehow the warmth of the air brings us inside the perfume of flowers, trees, breeze bringing us nearby kitchens, clicks of glasses with ice, somehow the light and shadow with its strong contrast creates a focal point.

 

 

She walks south on Freemont ave, Red Dress hangs just to the knees, small white floral pattern, brown sandals perfect with the summer dress, her dark hair pulled back to a pony tail, Olive skin, her right hand holding white daisy’s, her left gently swings lose, each step graceful like an ice skater, her head glides like on a rail, she moves through the shadows of the trees, the light dancing on her like she is center staged, people notice her, girlfriends holding hands of their lovers join their lovers in a long look as they hold their breath.

Summer is the time for such moments,

Somehow the warmth of the air brings us inside the perfume of flowers, trees, breeze bringing us nearby kitchens, clicks of glasses with ice, somehow the light and shadow with its strong contrast creates a focal point.

She walked through the sidewalk crowd lost in her thoughts, provoking thoughts of others

She is early 20s, she lifts her hand with the flowers and smells them as she passes an elderly couple, He uses a walker, she has her on his arm , white hair, white wrinkled skin fresh to the sun step into the shade of the tree and  watch her walk by, he kisses her hand then they turn back slowly moving on their way.

A 40sh male riding his bike slows to look at her, loses the rhythm of his pedals, he shakes his head as he regains his rhythm, energy well spent.

I turn my bus west on 46th, 12pm on a Monday, its quiet on this street, not so many shadows as the sun is now overhead, not so many trees, cars on each side.

I think of the time I met my lover at a QFC, we bought Sushi and Ice Tea, we walked to a near by park and talked, we had winter jackets on, hers a light blue, mine kaki, I did not notice it was cold.

The Ladder

Driving South on the Aurora Bridge, Lake Union on the right,

Puget Sound on the Left.

 Chesheeahud was a renowned Duwamish chief and travel guide to Lake Union, Lake Washington, and Lake Sammamish in the days before roads were built in the City of Seattle and its suburbs of the “Eastside”. Chesheeahud was the leader of a Duwamish village on Lake Union. Chesheeahud had a cabin and a potato patch on land given to him by pioneer David Denny at the foot of Shelby Street as late as 1900.

 Landscapers have been busy at the “Canlis” Shrubs have been trimmed, lower branches from Maples removed.

There is a ladder that is leaning against a Juniper, left behind as the workers moved on.

 Crossing the bridge,

A Black Lives Matter sign hangs from its right side and drapes over the sidewalk the breeze picks up, it swells like a sail similar to one of the boats below.

Chesheeahud’s to become also known as “lake John” (canoe was a full-sized Salish style canoe, with gently up-curving bow and tapering, angled stern.  Carved from a single huge log of western red cedar, large canoes of this shape had almost disappeared by the end of the 1800s. This was by the Nuu-chah’nulth from the coast and western.

 A young man, 20 something, dressed in white shirt, vest, tie, nice  jeans leather shoes leaves the bus at 39th and Freemont, I pull forward he slaps the bus and waves, he has left his computer behind.

At 46th and Phinney, then drop him at 65th and Greenwood, I pick up a regular, older man, 70? Wears a grey flat cap, light blue jacket, jeans, white tennis shoes, his line before Covid was to pay a $1, say to me “its only fair” we both will shake our heads with appreciation for the corny greeting,

He awkwardly enters the back of the bus now and seems to feel he is missing something before he sits down.

 

“John was a Lake Indian. His illahee [land], which was given to him by his cloish tillicum [good friend], “Dave Denny,” was on Portage Bay, Lake Union, at the foot of what is known now as Shelby Street. There he had his cabin and a small potato patch. He buried his chickamin [money] at the base of stumps. Back among the stumps he built his “sit down” house,. of which he was very proud and which we would not allow any one else to use.”

 

One person is left on my bus, an older Japanese woman, English her second language sits in front with her cane and mask, I had picked her up at 4th and Jackson by the International District, she leaves my bus at 100th   where I pick her up in the mornings, Her husband is with her , his White Fedora, White Jacket that matches his white hair, he pays her fare, walks her to her seat while he does, he makes sure to let me know he is leaving and where her stop is.

Her Husband is now at 100th, there to greet her, helps her off the bus and both bow and wave goodbye to me.

 Chesheeahud and his wife, known by her Pastid name “Madeline”, were often referred to as “the last of the Lake Union Indians,” since they were in fact the last Duwamish family to maintain residence on the lake as the city grew up around  “Debadidi” (David Denny) and moved with many of his people to the Suquamish Reservation across Puget Sound.

I have continued the route, left my layover at Shoreline Community College, a dozen or so people on my bus, I cross the  Aurora Bridge Southbound, the Olympics are still white with shades of blue as they meet the sound.

On my left is the “Canlis”, with a ladder that has been left behind as workers moved on.

 Sources:

Dailey, Tom. Coast Salish Villages of Puget Sound, http://www.coastsalishmap.org/

Gould, Jim, Professor Emeritus of History and International Relations, Scripps College, Claremont CA. The Montlake Neighborhood,  http://montlake.net/mcc/mcc_history_Jim_Gould.htm

King County Landmarks & Heritage Commission, Change of Worlds, http://www.changeofworlds.org/object.cfm?object=

Thomas Speer

The Bindweed

 

 

 

Seattle has two stadiums that sit on either side of a street in Seattle, not so much now a street as a walkway.

It is landscaped on one side, small perennials, ivy, juniper, bark dust

A Bindweed sends a vine through a small gap between bricks reaches towards the center of the sidewalk, its leaves uncurl, white trumpet flowers, the end of the vine is curled.

People step over, step next to it, occasionally step on it, through the weeks it continues to grow longer. I walk this area again; landscapers have cleared the vine.

Pine street has a walkway between 3rd and 4th.

Today a mid-30s man has stalled in his walk, one foot in front of the other as if in a normal walk, his jeans are muddy, shoes are dark, long coat, beard, long hair dark hair that hasn’t been washed in months. His arms are in a natural swing state but stationary, he is looking at the ground maybe 3 feet ahead of him. He looks like a freezeframe who’s next step is into the crosswalk. People pass him both on the left and right, some step around him glancing behind them, wondering if maybe his is a street performer.

My light turns green, he is to my right as I drive by him. I continue on my route to 2nd, south bound, then east bound back to Madison Park.  I layover for 20 mins, then head back to Pine street about 50 mins have gone by, he has now crossed the street is on my left, a few feet from the crosswalk, frozen, or moving incredibly slow.

The old woman who dresses in black, grey hair spraying out beneath her hoodie pushes her grocery cart of belongings around and past him.

My light turns green, I continue on my route to 2nd, south bound, then east bound back to Madison Park.  I layover for 20 mins, then head back to Pine street

15th and John

 

 

15th and John is a corner stop in front of one of Seattle’s major Hospitals, it’s a stop where you will find people in all stages of health.

Today a man I guess to be in his late 70s or early 80s, has a worn fleece vest over his hospital nightgown, his feet in socks, slippers, his white beard and hair contrast his dark skin, sunken eyes.  His arms have band aides that indicate recent I.V. and shots. His skin is blotchy, weakly, slowly, shaking as he climbs onto the bus, he hangs onto the hold bars as he finds a seat next to a window,  he holds a pizza and a bottle of something in a brown bag that he takes a long draw on after a bite of his pizza.  His gaze out the window seems long drawn, his mood melancholy.  I’m at a stop next to a small greenbelt, his hand is now on the window as he looks out, then he sits back wiping tears from his eyes.  He sits alone, and I have the feeling he feels alone and has been revealed to him his time is near and he left the Hospital abruptly leaving clothes in an effort to leave the situation behind him.

I wonder if I should call this in, what does one say when you only have a feeling.

We arrive at a stop downtown, there are homeless, bottles, broken glass boarded windows, graffiti of lives matter, old clothes laying about, dirty, wet from rain.  He carefully, weakly, shaking, leaves the bus and makes his way out through the crowd.

There is a tree there, who’s branch has been broken, hangs from its bark as its leaves are turning brown, one lets go in the breeze fluttering to the sidewalk.

Saturday July 11, 2020

The Nature of this job feels like it has changed since the virus hit.
I will admit, the driving is easier for sure, sometimes there are no other cars on the road and far less riders, to the point sometimes there are no commuters, and this is where the nature of the job has changed.
Third avenue has been bus stops only for a few years now, usually lined with commuters, day visitors, shoppers, people running errands and of course street people, who were in the minority, and could often disappear into the crowd.
With few people that are not street people now adays, we drivers are more aware, or directly effected by them.
Southbound 3rd and Lenora approaching Pine street is a long stretch of benches which used to be used by commuters, now has been a place for the druggers and street people.
9 am. I drive by a man in his 40s shooting up as he leans against a building, his arms are pocked, splotchy, swollen, he is struggling to put the needle into a vein, he finds it and shoots the drug in.
Next to him is a young man who has been covered in tentacle like cancer, I have spoken about him before, today his is wrapped in an army blanket, he is spitting what I think is blood onto the sidewalk.
Next to him, there are a couple of tents with piles of garbage laying street side.
Out of one of the tents a young woman, who I have seen on the streets several times dressed like a prostitute, is poking her head out the flap and is yelling something to the tent just south of her.
An old woman dressed in black, her gray hair puffing out beneath her hoodie, pushes her grocery cart of belongings through the crowd of homeless and druggies, they ignore her as she makes extra effort to not trip or pass over their belongings.
My window is open, there is a smell of weed in the air.
I drive past Pine, continue south approaching Pike. There is a small group of young men, baseball caps, sag jeans, Nike shoes, a smart speaker is blasting rap as they complete a drug sale.
I arrive at my stop. One of the guys from that crowd jumps on my bus, lays down on the back seat, puts his cap over his head and appears to go to sleep.
I pull away from the stop and make it halfway down the street and see a young blond woman desperately waving me down, I slow and open my door, “my friend is trying to make this bus too” I see a young man running for the bus about a half a block away, when he sees I am stopped, he begins to walk putting his headphones on, Im under the impression he isn’t getting on, so I begin to close the doors, which makes him run again, so I open them. He stops again and walks slower, I leave the doors open for him. He glares at me with a death stare as he enters the bus, his girlfriend follows him to a seat. They get off at the very next stop.
The Nature of this job has changed, months of people on drugs and otherwise dysfunctional is now my main customer service challenge.
I still have drops of compassion for them, people that use drugs on a daily basis, weed, or stronger it changes their perception of the world and who they are, they often do not realize they are irrational, nor do they realize their actions affect others.
They only feel themselves as the drug prescribes them too,
The streets look different. They’re demeaner has changed their appearance, Negative energy is what they exude
I still very much enjoy this job, I have found to deal with constant barrage of the drug induced, I look for ways to balance the ugly with fine living.
I make sure to have a steak with a good glass of wine while I watch a Puget Sound view. Go for a walk on a near Island beach and bird watch. Walk in the woods, listen to the creatures make their lives.
I go window shopping at nice boutiques and see the current collections for houseware, I go gallery walking, I read a good book, listen to symphonies.
Come home, close the door laugh at a sitcom or watch a hero take down a drug dealer.
Before Westernization, indigenous cultures had drug use for ceremonial purposes, Shaman, elders, often over saw the use of drugs with their tribe members for spiritual effect.
As far as I know, there wasn’t the problems with the drugs we have now. Where drugs are a constant recreation, the mind adjusts to what is normal for it.
I wont blame drugs for all the decay I see,
But its clear, there is a problem.
As I write this, I am finishing a Scotch and Sour.

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.