Cranky Thursday

The Renton Transfer Center, where lots of south-side bus routes converge, is not like a normal bus stop. It's just several city blocks, with buildings between them like anywhere else. Cars are discouraged and there's a maze of bus stops on several streets, and it's tricky guessing where your bus will stop, and buses are headed in both directions on every route, and it can be confusing for passengers, and maybe for the drivers, too.

May 3, 2022

And so it came to pass that the #560 I was waiting for emerged from around a corner, and pulled into the curb-slot where I'd been waiting. The bus's electronic banner said it was an eastbound #560, though, and I needed to go west, so instead of getting on, I walked to the over-complicated sign on the sidewalk to doublecheck. I'm new in town, easily baffled, and maybe I was standing at the wrong place?

The sign said the westbound #560 stops there, and the eastbound #560 stops across the street, so I was at the right place, but the bus was already driving away. It only comes twice an hour, so I walked into the street and pounded too hard on its glass door while the bus was moving.

Here's where my dead wife comes into the story. She used to tell me, "You're a nice guy, Doug, but you scare people because you're big and loud and except while we're having sex you usually have a grumpy face." Her helpful advice was, when dealing with people, especially when I'm frustrated, I should force a slight smile onto my face and lower my voice. Crank down my crankiness.

I remembered her advice, but only after banging on the bus's glass door.

A nice driver might open the door when someone bangs on the glass, and this time I'd lucked into a nice bus driver who opened the door, and after that I obeyed my wife. I was frustrated, so I gave myself a fake smile, and in my impersonation of a pleasant tone of voice I asked the driver, "Are we going east, or are we going west?" I even pointed east, then west, as I said it, to make sure my hands weren't fists. More good advice from my wife.

"We're going west," the driver said, like I'm an idiot.

I stepped up, flashed my ORCA card to pay the fare, and said, "The bus banner says east." Said it with a full-fledged smile, and with great effort I even added a hint of a good-natured laugh.

The driver looked upward, to where some device shows her what the bus's exterior sign says, and she said, "Oh, heck, I forgot to change the sign, sorry." She pushed a few buttons that presumably changed the sign from 'eastbound' to 'westbound', to match the bus's actual direction.

"No worries," I said, walking toward an empty seat. "Between traffic and asshole passengers, drivers have a difficult job."

She laughed and said thanks, and on we rolled. In 45 minutes I was home. Pretty sure, though, that without my late wife's good advice, the driver would've slammed the door in my face and I would've been waiting half an hour for the next #560 westbound.

Thanks, Stephanie. Dead for almost four years now, you're still a big help in my life.

These are too many words to describe a gut feeling, but you should never ignore your gut:

I've moved back to Seattle, where I grew up, where my family is, so I knew there would be more invitations to social events, which I hate. Expected I'd usually say no, and expected they'd insist, and that's what's been happening. Overall, it's working out OK.

The big surprise is baseball. It's always been fun to sit in the cheap seats and watch a ball game, and back in the old days I attended Mariners games with friends, with my brothers, sometimes by myself. I thought I'd be going to baseball games again.

While I was gone, they tore down the shitty old stadium (Kingdome) and spent many millions of taxpayer dollars replacing it with two new stadiums, one for baseball and one for football. I've been to the new baseball place twice, and maybe it's an improvement, but it sure is expensive, and it sure is loud, and security has been tightened, a lot.

Walking several blocks from the bus stop to the ball park, you can hear a recording of the stadium's security rules, broadcast over the public address. It's a long list of rules, all read without a sense of humor, about the many things you're not allowed to bring and not allowed to do. It;s not quite the warden's speech for new inmates in a prison movie, but it's a long ways from "Take Me Out to the Ball Park."

After the list comes a few minutes of (relative) quiet time — ads and rock'n'roll over the public address system — and then the announcement repeats. I pity the fools who live or work near the ball park, and hear that announcement on a loop before every game. Both games I've gone to, the "You're not allowed" announcements gave me a headache before I got to the stadium.

When you reach the gates, you're met with airport-level security. You're going to walk through a metal detector, and they're going to wand you or pat you down if they feel like it. If you brought a bag, it's required to be smaller than such-and-such dimensions, and it's required to be transparent, so the guards can see everything inside. If you're not feeling intimidated enough, the guards are talking with their superiors on walkie-talkies, a lot.

I like freedom, and believe people should be left free to mind their own matters whenever plausible, so all the security dampens my mood. Telling an old lady that her purse is too big, that she must take the purse back to her car, doesn't make the ball park safer. It only makes the ball park frustrating, for that old lady... and for me.

All this security is necessary, because mass murder with automatic weapons is America's most cherished value, so someday soon an NRA nut will open fire at a pro baseball game. Major League Baseball is smart to have its security procedures, and I don't object.

But the security saps about 1/3 of the pleasure out of going to a game, so there'll be no more baseball for me.

ORCA stands for "One Regional Card for All." It's the pre-paid plastic card that's accepted on all public transit systems spanning several counties near Seattle. The system was recently upgraded, which means it was recently downgraded. My email to ORCA:

I've had about a dozen free rides since the "new and improved" ORCA system went into effect. I simply cannot find the 'sweet spot' where the machines recognize my card, or if the card's been accepted there's no audible beep, no indication on the screen.

Only one driver has insisted that I continue waving the card all over the front of the bus, and after another minute of intense waving, the card was accepted that time, hooray. Usually I spend several seconds waving my card at the front, sides, and bottom of the ORCA box, then give up, take a seat, and ride for free.

I'm guessing this wasn't what y'all intended, when all those millions of dollars were spent for the ORCA 'upgrade'. Please advise?

And now, the news you need, whether you know it or not… 

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US Supreme Court rules against EPA and hobbles government power to limit harmful emissions 


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What happened at the Stonewall riots? A timeline of the 1969 uprising 

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Corporations that helped overturn Roe v. Wade include Coca-Cola, General Motors, Comcast, Walmart and Amazon 

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The Gospel of Bull Durham, according to Ron Shelton 

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Are little creatures in cat poop controlling our minds? 

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Wisconsin: Republican Supreme Court says Republican can remain in office long after his term in office expired 

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1950s warrant for the arrest of Emmett Till's false accuser found 

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U.S. companies don't much want to talk about abortion data collection and protection 

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One-word newscast, because it's the same news every time...

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The End
Margaret Keane
Dom Phillips
Clela Rorex 

Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...

1 comment:

  1. To my surprise, I got an answer from ORCA, 2+ weeks later. To my lack of surprise, it's a generic form letter. "Thank you for bringing this to our attention, blah blah blah..."

    I'd still riding free maybe one ride out of five.


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