This is the last of a three-part story– see below or click here for Part 1 and Part 2.
Racing down the steps to Convention Place, and not more than five minutes later the 41 surfaces to take me home. How glorious. I peer through the windshield at the driver. It's David again! Can this be? I recognize some passengers within, but I must chat with David while I can. He retires in a couple of years. We talk about Camino Island. He bought a house out there. We talk about the ferry system.
How could I not be interested? To dive from each of these worlds to the next– Trenton's monarchies, Jaesun's coffins, Wendosun's traffic, Joni's Postmates, Michael Moore's Dick's locations, and now David, explaining his commute. Here's the thing. Of course it'll be great to retire on Camino, but for the two remaining years he does work, his commute will be an absurd fifty-two miles each way! He bought a jalopy of a Honda for that purpose alone– a quick temporary purchase. Throw on a new set of tires and knock 90,000 miles into it, then retire. Not bad.
It's like flipping open random pages of the densest book there is, our swirling book of life. Anyone who's read this blog knows I thrive on details. I'm just a student in this glorious racket, and I drink it all up. What a many-splendored thing, existence. I care equally about each of their preoccupations– to hear anyone talk about things they care about, really. One of the great elixirs.
I interrupt and say, "David, let me ask you something. You've been doin' this for a while. How do you stay in shape?"
He laughs. "I don't!"
"Well, you're doin' a sight better than some of our own coworkers, and man, I wanna follow in your lead! Would love to do this for a while!"
He explains how it was easier to lose weight working at the bakery than on the bus now, where you don't get to stand all day and sweat off the pounds.
"Well, I'm thinking not just about the weight stuff, but also the you know, the shoulder stuff, the knee stuff,"
"Oh, I don't have any of that."
"What? How do you do it? 'Cause I think I've figured out how to stay mentally happy out here, but I want to know how to stay physically healthy too, you know?"
David realizes what it is. "I'm always changing how I sit. I never really sit the same way. I adjust this, I move that, after a trip I go like this…." That's his secret. Slight differences. Minimizing the repetitive nature of the movements.
"That makes perfect sense. It's brilliant. Well shoot, I'm gonna take you up on that, man!"
I feel rejuvenated. I'm about to walk home, but wait! There's What's-Her-Name, driving the 348. How could I not say hello? What a sweetheart she is. How does she manage to make a mullet look so slick? Decades of experience, I suppose. I ride with her for one zone. She tells me about the nutty folks she encounters on her route. I quip, "hang on. Is the 348 the new 358? Is that what you're tellin' me?"
"It's gettin' that way!"
"'Cause if that's true, I might have to start picking North Base!" I explain to the girl she'd been chatting with prior to my arrival, "I live up here but I commute all the way downtown to drive the routes down there because I like how lively it is. But if it's crazy right here, well this just makes everything so much easier!"
They marvel at how ridiculous I am. Why do I do it, really? How insane am I? Instead of picking North Base, which is eight minutes from my home, I commute for an hour and a half in traffic so I can drive routes where all kinds of ridiculous things happen that don't make sense? "You really are crazy," one of them laughs. When I mention I drive the 7 on all five of my worknights, somebody reminds me Metro offers free counseling and therapy services. The driver tells me about her exciting medical procedure, which will take place tomorrow. They're turning her into the Bionic woman- implanting a device in her body with actual buttons! "Press this if you feel pain here," et cetera. I wish her luck.
"He's one of my favorites," I overhear the passenger say as I walk away.
Strolling through my door, I realize something: I've just spent the last seven hours talking nonstop to friends and acquaintances. Almost every minute of every step of the way. Why would I move anywhere else? Where else can I go where I'm on friendly terms with a few thousand people of every conceivable background? I don't deserve this. O Seattle, how I thank thee, for taking me in your arms as you have. Don't expect me to flee anytime soon.
At awards shows the winners read off endless lists of everyone who helped them get there. It's boring to listen to, but I know why they do it. To be bestowed such privilege feels odd when you know it's really thanks to the kindness and assistance of so many others. I won't thank everyone by name, but rather paraphrase Morgan Freeman in 2005: I'd like to thank anyone and everyone who ever had anything to do with the making of– for me, this feeling of goodwill and forgiveness and freedom and love, a love I feel from all directions. It is so dear, so precious, and I cherish its fragile beauty such that I hardly dare write these words acknowledging its existence. Thank you.