Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It's Not All Good.

The bus was already crowded when it stopped at 3rd and University. Passengers poured in and out, front and back, many eager to leave downtown after a long Monday. As I sat scribbling in my notebook, folks settled into their positions for the ride back to West Seattle. 

Without warning, a shrill noise bellowed from the speaker above my head, shooting through my torso and jolting my bottom into a pair of convulsing Bundt cakes. 

“Will the woman in the pink scarf sitting by the back door please come to the front and pay your fare?” It was so loud, the driver’s voice contorted like Motörhead in a Tuff Shed, somewhere between one-and-a-half and two chainsaws in volume.

"This isn’t the Rapid Ride! You must pay the fare to ride this coach,” the metallic shriek continued. "Please come to the front, pay your fare and it’s all good.”

My ears rang. All good? Really? I thought. Not for those of us just bludgeoned by your bountiful tweeters, and definitely not for the lady in the pink scarf. 

Sitting just a few feet away, the woman gathered her purse and stood, her head bowed. Fifty sets of eyes watched the shamed moocher as she weaved her way slowly toward the front, surely destined for one last admonishment from the captain.

Well that was bullshit, I thought. Come on. Sure, the lady didn’t pay her fare, but you, King County Metro driver, took it upon yourself to hijack your riders’ attention in the most invasive manner available, just so we’d all be present for the awarding of the scarlet letter. 

Moments later the woman returned to her seat, her face still pointed at the grainy floor. Passengers surrounded her but all ignored her, their eyes glued to their smartphones like Mrs. Butterworth to the Sunday sports section.

Most of us have encountered our share of bullies, especially growing up. But have you ever observed an oppressive adult and wondered the extreme: 

What if that bus driver was on the other side in 1940s Nazi Germany? What if she were given free reign to intimidate, to manipulate or worse?

Would she? Nah. Maybe.

Your brain may not perform these types of pointless exercises, but every so often I’ll run across a fellow American who makes me a little happier that the Americans came out on top in World War II. 

I’ve always liked the term, “It’s all good.” A friendly, positive phrase, it’s one used most effectively when diffusing an awkward situation. 

This time it created one.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

She's Fifteen. Wait, What?

She’s fifteen today. 

Holy sweet mother of Burt Reynolds, I feel old. My little girl—all those years such a wee, giggly tot—has shot up like a gull durn beanstalk in Zoo Doo. And, might I say, a hard-working, smart, awesome beanstalk at that.

How about you; do you remember turning fifteen? How about just being fifteen? I’m asking because…I kind of don’t. Sure, I’ve got some fairly sturdy memories of the larger milestones of that era—thirteen, sixteen—but my recollections of Year XV are overcast at best. 

Based on the day’s teenage mindset, I can deduce what I may have asked for. Perhaps a pair of these:

I doubt I received HASH jeans though, since it cost around thirty 1977 dollars for the privilege of hiding your shoes and flaunting your loin rimple. Chances are I picked up a cheaper imitation at the Clothes Fair down by the railroad tracks. 

I probably requested slightly smaller ticket items, like this:

Or maybe this:

Or perhaps a subscription to this:

I can tell you with near certainty that for dinner, I went here:

After which, my family and I returned home, sat back on the couch and flipped on this:

Yep, from what I’ve observed, teenage birthdays are quite a bit different now. By the time my daughter arrives at school this morning, a large swath of freshmen will already be digitally clued in. Upon her entrance, she’ll be engulfed in a million gentle hugs—each with one hand lightly patting the birthday girl’s back and the other clinging to its smartphone like a mountain goat to a mossy boulder.

In 1977, most of my friends didn’t even know I’d had a birthday until they noticed my annual Milk Dud-sized forehead zit from eating chocolate cake for breakfast all week.

I’m not bitter. Digital attention is shallow. Wait, forget I said that. 

I suppose when the rubber hits the road, teenagers haven’t changed all that much. Allow me to illustrate.

Here’s a recent photo of my daughter:

Here I am, also at age 15:

And of course, James:

See what I mean? A youngster’s a youngster’s a dork. 

Fifteen can be a tough age, a time of awakening and with it, one of elevated uncertainty and angst. Thankfully, our kid seems to be navigating the waters well; in fact, she’s doing great. 

And just between us, or as the kids say, "TBH," I love the girl so much, sometimes I feel like I could just cave in. But knowing how she’s loathed being the subject of my long-winded posts over the years, I’ve decided to bestow upon her the greatest gift a father can grant on this, my baby’s fifteenth birthday:

I’ll stop talking.