The Bus. Words that make a person cringe or relax. I’ve ridden more than my share. The following is a bunch of stories on some of my experiences.
Trigger Warning: there are some stories that may be hard to read.
I’m going to bypass the terror of upsetting my dad by not making it to the school bus on time when I lived on a farm in Minnesota.
I’ll also bypass a rant about how Omaha buses don’t run at times that are useful for anyone but students and homeless people.
No, let’s start with….
The West Bank
I was in Israel in 1991 on a college trip to work on an archaeological dig. We had gone into Jerusalem to do the tourist thing.
The women I was with were rushing around. We went to the waterfall, and then left within minutes. We only had time to take a dip in the Dead Sea. We went to Masada and were only there for about an hour. Everything was rushed.
Me, I like to take things in. I want to contemplate the waterfall, to grok the Dead Sea, to wander the ruins of Masada and think about this history that went down there. According to some records, in 74 CE, the rebels committed mass suicide rather than surrender. That’s something to think about!
Anyhoo, I was tired of rushing around and decided to go off on my own. This was roundly rejected by my group and I ended up having to throw a fit to prove my determination. They finally let me go.
I immediately got on the wrong bus and ended up going to the West Bank.
And it wasn’t the residential section. No, it was an almost deserted industrial area. No one was on the bus with me. It was pretty scary for me.
Not wanting to risk getting off the bus, I stayed on it until it got to its destination. I have no idea where I was. The driver told me I had to get out.
So, I got out.
Then I walked to the opposite side of the street and waiting for him to start the route again. He came and I went back to Jerusalem.
Fortunately, nothing happened, but considering how dangerous that whole area was, and is, I was lucky.
I didn’t tell my group about this; they’d never let me go off by myself again!
When I was working in Bellevue, Washington, I had to ride the bus from Seattle to work. Now this might have been not so bad a ride, but this is the Seattle area during rush hour. It took a long time.
But, if you ride the bus long enough, and if it was during a time when people didn’t have their faces in their phones, you get to know people. (And now some buses offer internet. I just shake my head.)
These are your bus friends.
Every morning, in the back of the bus, there was a social event, a party going on. We tell stories and jokes and laugh like we’re not heading into an 8-hour day. It’s a wonderful way to release stress before you get to work.
I miss that.
One day on my way to work, as I was walking to the bus stop, I saw a wallet just sitting on the sidewalk. All alone. No ass to keep it company.
I will admit that I debated. Taking on the responsibility for a lost wallet can be harrowing. But I picked it up and looked around, but no one was around that it could belong to. So, I took it work with me.
I’m looking at the contents of the wallet, trying to figure out if there’s a phone number or email or something in there that I can use. No such luck.
There was a signed check for $15,000 with nothing in the recipient field. It was signed and dated.
This guy was completely lucky it was me that found it.
When I got to work, I spent some research time and found the dude’s phone number and gave him a call. The first thing I said to him was:
“The check is still there.”
Once the panic subsided, there was an attempt to get carless me to bring the wallet to him, but he finally showed up at my work with flowers. And an offer of money.
No to the money, the flowers I accepted.
The Cookie Story
I’ve told this story in several posts already. Search for “Cookie” if you really want to hear it. It’s pretty weird.
On my way to Capitol Hill one day, a crazy woman got on the bus. There were only about four of us on the bus and I was the only one in the back of the bus.
She starts marching up and down the aisle, raising hell.
I pretend to continue to read my book while I watch her closely.
On one of her marches, she slides into the seat next to me and looks at my book. I show the cover to her. She looks at it a moment. Then jumps up and starts screaming again.
The bus driver has pulled over by now and the cops show up and take that crazy woman away.
In 1999, I was working in Bothell, Washington. On this day, the WTO Protests were going on in downtown Seattle. The bus I took home was going to end up downtown. It’s important that you know that.
Not far from Bothell, the bus driver started acting funny.
First, he’d pull up like he was going to pick up more passengers and then just take off, leaving the passengers yelling behind us.
Second, when passengers wanted to get off, he’d stop the bus, open and shut the door really fast, and then take off again.
Third, he pulled over to the side of the road, opened the door, put his feet up on money thingy, and had himself a snack. He stared in the mirror at us, daring us to say anything.
By then we were all aware we were on the crazy bus and just sat there quietly and watched him.
Finally, I think he figured he got his message across about his unhappiness about going downtown and there were no more problems.
That bus driver really didn’t want to drive that bus into Downtown Seattle. And I don’t blame him.
The Trump Administration
When I got my job at MITS, one of the things I had on my list was to work downtown. That way I could live anywhere and get to work fairly easily.
I got my wish. And then I wished to never go down there again.
You see, our building is really close to a federal building that seems to be a magnet for protests. There was already a weekly protest on Tuesday.
Once Donald Trump won, there were protests every day.
As anyone who knows me knows, I have PTSD over people in groups acting violently. They don’t even really need to be acting violently. People in groups scare the hell of out me. Especially when the rioters started acting up.
Sometimes people would just walk into the street and scream and throw things at cars.
It was a nightmare going to work anymore.
Buses became triggers for an allergic reaction that made me have coughing fits on the bus. I’d get part way somewhere and have to get off the bus due to all the coughing. I finally figured out that having a container of hot tea was a savior.
Shootings and Bodies
In Jan 2020, I was waiting for my bus when all the buses stopped. All traffic stopped. I had no idea what was going on and since I’m not a cell phone zombie, it didn’t even occur to me to look anything up. I just knew that I wasn’t going anywhere.
So, I decided to go to Biscuit Bitch for some sausage and gravy. And started walking up 3rd Avenue. It got so I couldn’t walk on the sidewalk anymore, so I joined a line of people who seemed to be making it through the mess.
Then I ended up at the police line right in front of McDonald’s. And there, on the ground, covered in blankets, were lumps.
It took me a moment to figure out what I was seeing.
Right, so the woman with PTSD is the one to see the bodies.
I found out there was a shooting not only there, but there was a shootout with the police a couple of blocks away.
Biscuit Bitch wasn’t even open.
Note to self: If things are going down, don’t assume the best, just go in the opposite direction.
Of course, Covid happened, and I had to stay home. Please know, my desire to not go downtown anymore had nothing to do with Covid. No spell was cast.
My throat started feeling better.
Yeah. We’re mad as hell and that makes it okay to destroy businesses, burn cars, scare people, try to burn the police alive by blocking the doors and setting fires. It’s okay to go to people’s homes with bricks and threaten them and their children. They took over a small piece of land on Capitol Hill and couldn’t even keep people from getting killed there. And no one even talks about the rape that happened!
It was mainly a bunch of entitled white people yelling “Black Lives Matter!”
They continued even though the Black leaders of the community asked them to stop.
They pushed out the Chief of Police, who was a black woman!
It was the biggest demonstration of racism I’ve ever seen in my life.
I read articles defending the actions and this is the main argument: They are not mentally able to comprehend their situation. As superior people, it is our obligation to fight for them.
If that isn’t racist, I don’t know what is.
I’ve listened to many of our black neighbors share their anger over those actions.
Is it any wonder I have PTSD over groups?
Well, sometimes I had to go into work to fix one of my servers.
Nothing broke my heart so much as to ride the bus downtown and see all those boarded up buildings. It looked like a war zone.
My throat issues came back whenever I had to go downtown.
Today, I’m able to ride the bus without a cough.
I’ve been downtown several times and things are slowly being rebuilt. Many businesses have fallen. Tents have multiplied.
The family business of makers the rioters destroyed seems to have survived.
But deep down, I fear the riots will start up again. I fear that my bus will be surrounded by violent dumbasses and we’ll be hurt. Seattle is not a kind place.
I don’t have a great ending for this. Maybe I’ll go take a bus and something else will happen…