Friday, October 9, 2009

No such thing as a free ride

King County Metro, Route 54—West Seattle to Downtown.
It's amazing to me how many people grip the metal bars. Call me a germ freak, but those posts are a primordial crock pot for the next bird flu. On the occasion that I have no choice but to hold on to one to avoid spilling into someone's lap, I attempt the highly difficult square dance maneuver, the "elbow hook," but this has also backfired. I once whipped around the pole with such acceleration, that I butted heads with an elderly man—bulls eye into a liver spot on his forehead. I felt really bad not only that I had injured him, but also that I got close enough to recognize that he smelled of hamsters.
Every morning and evening contains the potential for a memorable experience. One may witness a drug deal, a fist fight or simply a man who has decided to liberate the encumbrances of his bladder.
A few weeks ago, I overheard a young girl conversing with her mother. The little girl was observing a rather overweight woman laboring down the aisle. "Mommy, is she going to have a baby?" the little girl asked after the woman passed by. "No, sweetie, she's just a larger woman," the mother discreetly replied.
"Well, maybe she's going to have a dog or a cat, then, mommy?"
Good stuff.
The silent majority of Metro riders are the electronically disengaged masses, those who become one with their personal data devices. Headphones, Blackberries, iPhones, all melting into lines and columns of anonymity, their heads tilted downward at a forty-degree angle. I've certainly been a member of this demographic, but lately, I've found life on the bus far more interesting when actively observing my surroundings.
And then there are the drivers. On a steel horse they drive, as Bon Jovi might say. These beaten-down folks not only deal with Seattle traffic and criminally insane passengers, but they also must face the wrath of those average worker stiffs who are just late for a meeting or having a bad day. I really have no idea why anyone wants this job, but I'm glad someone does. Hats off to you, Metro operators, but next time you pass my bus stop without pulling over, I'm lodging a formal complaint.


  1. I always thought it was "on a stale horse I ride" but it never made sense...

    My husband saw a woman eating a pork chop on the train. And she was standing. Eating it like a popsicle.

  2. I think I would have laughed fairy hard upon seeing the meatsicle.

  3. I can't stop thinking about the man who smelled like hamsters. You really nailed it. (I'm not sure what "it" is...but let's hope there's a big bag of money at the other end.)