Later on, inbound from Queen Anne, I'm having a pleasant conversation with a recent mover to Seattle- an older gent who grew up in New York and recently lived in Texas. Sophisticated fellow. He loves how bountiful the art scene is here, as compared to his former digs, particularly from where he now resides in lower Queen Anne. He's on his way to see a show at Benaroya. We speak of Seattle's mild weather, beautiful nature, and so on. Great. All well and good so far.
At Broad, an older lady of perhaps sixty hops on, approximate in age to the gent I'm speaking with, but from a completely different background- she's spry and frightfully thin, with weathered tan skin and raggedy clothing. She's staying at Harborview for the time being. The three of us begin a new conversation. Gent from Texas is wonderfully open-minded, and the street woman's attitude is rich in verve and wit. We discuss Benaroya and its multiple concert halls. They discover they've both read the same Michael Connelly novel. She sits angled forward, excited, with straight posture; there is the impression of a happy, excited child, thrilled at the chance to discuss culture with Gent.
There was another passenger who got on at Broad.
Yes, you know the one. Frizzy hair kept close to her head, heavyset, glasses, a face both chubby and pinched, with those unmistakable pink tights...there's only one of her, and lower case letters just won't do when describing her- yes, it's THE LIGHT-SKINNED BLACK WOMAN.
She's sitting directly behind me, listening to Gent and Spry Lady discuss Connelly's books directly across from her.
"WAIT. YOU CAN READ?!" she says.
"Oh, I think we all can!" I respond.
I keep the conversation between myself, Gent, and Spry going at a hurtling pace, in an effort to prevent LSBW from getting a word in edgewise. I've never talked with such fervor about Michael Connelly before. In a moment proving the universe does indeed have a terrific sense of humor, LSBW asks us to speak a little more quietly, and stop being so (fucking) loud. All things considered, she seems realtively sedate so far. Not bad. I try to stay sharp, and ready.
At Virginia I pull around a 131 who's using his lift. He's a little further back in the zone, and I pull around into the left lane, going around him; I check for passengers who might want my bus at the head of the zone, then pull to the stop bar at the intersection, waiting for the light. I'm still in the left lane. The 131 pulls forward alongside me, and the Ryerson Base operator inside it opens his window and glares at me. Haven't seen him before; he doesn't know me. Clearly he wants to talk, and I open my doors.
"What's up?" I say.
"What are you doin' up here?!" he spits out, the whites of his eyes shining. "You don't get to pull in front a me!"
"You wanna pull ahead, man? Go for it, man, you got it!"
Practically frothing at the mouth: "That's not how it works. You don't pull around-"
Not gonna give him a second. I butt in with authority, smiling at him: "You go ahead, man, go for it! You got the right a way, it's all yours, my friend! I'ma get outta your way a little, give you some more space, you gon' fit just fine. Plenty of room. You got this. You got it!"
He glares, and glares, and glares, and I hold his gaze with a neutral expression- his is the mask of someone about to kill, while I'm wearing the face of someone about to laugh.
LSBW, clearly forgetting to stay in character, says, "that guy's got problems!"
"Yeah, he doesn't seem to be having a very good day, huh?"
Gent pipes in. "I haven't been to all the cities in the US, but I've been in most of 'em. And I have to say, the bus drivers in Seattle get my top marks. You guys are some of the best I've seen anywhere when it comes to staying patient, dealing with people, being courteous..."
I thank him profusely. I can see he's trying to pick me up a little. I don't really need it, but I'm grateful.
Story continues in the next post- stay tuned!