"They're doing their job."

A few hundred houses are under construction in my neighborhood, on a large piece of land that my flatmates tell me was nothing but sticker-bushes a few months ago.

Six days a week, step out the door of our boarding house and you'll hear hammering. If I'm waiting for a northbound #99 bus, the stop is directly in front of one of the new houses, not yet occupied, and still surrounded by dirt instead of lawn.

One morning as I walked to that bus stop, there were two men operating two excavators, digging through the dirt. What they was digging for, I'm not sure. There might be enough room to build another house there, between the street and a house that's almost finished, but one of the excavators was digging a circular hole, and the other seemed to be digging at random. Maybe the circular hole's going to be a fountain or something.

At the fence, an oldish white woman was with a little boy who looked about ten years old, and he was looking intently through the fence, watching the guys work the excavators. The old woman was watching, too, and she was having almost as much fun as the kid. Me too, of course — c'mon, who doesn't like watching people operating heavy construction equipment? For about ten minutes, until my bus came, the three of us were mesmerized, and for once I wished my bus would've been later than it was.

June 27, 2022

As he watched, the kid said something profound, and maybe he'll remember it. I sure will. Maybe it was the moment he started figuring something out. "Hey, grandma," he said. "How come they both look so angry?"

I wouldn't say the men working the excavators looked angry, but they didn't look happy. They looked like guys doing a job, wishing they were almost anywhere else. They weren't having any of the fun that the kid and his grandmother and me were having, watching them work.

"They're doing their job," the kid's nana said, "something they do every day. They're used to it."

That's a very tactful way to say it, Granny, but in twenty or thirty years that kid will understand. The guys sitting in those John Deere boxes, whirling around as the excavators dug up dirt from here and dumped it there — we wanted to believe they were having as much fun doing it as we were watching it, but nope, they weren't having any fun at all. They hate their jobs, same as most people do.

Which reminds me, I gotta hurry up and find my next job to hate.

It's taken me months to even begin looking, because I enjoy not working more than working, but my bank account is dwindling so the hunt for a job is (sort of) underway. I've filled out an application to work at Dick's, the local hamburger place famous for great burgers and good wages and treating employees well. I'm also trying to make my way through the impossible tangle of government agency job-opening bullshit, to see if I could answer phones for Metro or Sound Transit, explaining to new riders how to get from Tukwila to Tacoma.

I'm a transit geek and I like hamburgers, so those jobs sort of appeal to me, but filling out one application, and sending inquiries to two other places — bit of a stretch to call that "looking for a job," eh?

After those three say no to me, which shouldn't take long, I'll probably end up at another office job, hating it like the guys in the excavators.

Walking eleven blocks home from the #120 bus stop, the color red and a childish scrawl in the bushes caught my curiosity — some folded pages were snagged in a bush beside the sidewalk. I set down the sacks I was carrying, stepped into the bushes, picked up the papers... If it was homework I would've left it to rot, but it was writing, and I judged it possibly amusing, so I shook off the bugs and jammed it into my pocket.

At home my first joy is always making a sandwich and then dropping my pants, so I forgot the papers were even there, until checking the pockets before doing the laundry on Saturday.

Shelly is the love of the unsigned author's life, but there's drama here. Across six pages of whining and misspellings, the author bemoans his hurt fillings [feelings] at Shelly's absence, because she's spending all her time with Carla. "Are you even my grilfrind? If you are you mitte whont to acked licke it because I am thanking abou dumping you."

From the handwriting, I'd thought at first that the letter came from a little kid, but the heartbreak and angst suggests it was written by an adolescent boy. "Do you even licke me enny more?" At one point, Unsigned says, "Now I know how my feonsa felt and way [why] she left me," and if feonsa means fiancée then the author might be an adult.

There'll be no mockery of the emotions from me. With the internet and smart phones and contraceptives, reality TV, easy access to porn, and the profound lack of music, everything about being young has changed since I was young — except being young.

On the bus you can usually spot the crazies by their look, but sometimes they're in disguise, like the perfectly normal late-20s white man who got onto the bus at Alaska Junction. He was wearing a shirt, tie, and shorts, and I would've guessed he was a grad student or a bank teller. He fumbled in his pocket for his transit card, flashed it at the box to pay the fare, and then walked toward a seat chanting loudly, "Hwa! Hwa! Hwa!"

A homeless black man who'd been babbling to himself briefly hushed. An old Chinese lady held her groceries closer. Two giggling adolescent boys actually shut the hell up. "Hwa! Hwa! Hwa!"

The guy was quiet after the bus pulled away, and the normal transit soundtrack of homeless babbling and giggling boys and all the other noises resumed, until he rang the bell and got off, saying again, "Hwa! Hwa! Hwa!"

At another stop, a pretty but pregnant young blonde girl in a flimsy blouse tried to board, but she was with her boyfriend and the driver said no to him. "You I don't know," she said to the blonde, "but he's trouble and he's not riding with me."

He didn't like that, started objecting that he'd ride anywhere he wanted to ride. The driver said no again and threatened to call 9-1-1, but then from the middle of the bus came a man who looked my age, old, but he was in much better shape. He charged at the kid, and shoved him out the front door.

Which, to be honest, was not a feat of great strength. The young guy looked downright emaciated, like we'd caught him midway through a 40-days fast. Hell, I probably could've shoved him off the bus, if I was a shove-people-off-the-bus kind of guy.

The driver thanked the old man, of course, and after we were back in traffic, she said "that skinny tweaker" had been on her bus earlier the same day, without the blonde, and he'd been obnoxious to two other passengers. "I don't know anything about the blonde," the driver said, "except she looks too young to be pregnant, but if he's her boyfriend I don't want her on the bus either."

"Damn, it must be crazy to be a bus driver," I said.

"You would not believe it," she said, and that's all she said, except when that other old guy got off, she said to him, "You can ride free on my bus, any time."

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

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And it's official.
No right to abortion, says stacked Supreme Court


Half of Americans no longer have rights over their own bodies and lives. That's outrageous, and if you're among the millions who think it's good news, please fuck off and die. 

Ginni’s husband says gay marriage and contraception are next 

♦ ♦ ♦  

Supreme Court says Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense 


♦ ♦ ♦ 

Supreme Court uses praying football coach to gut separation of church and state 


♦ ♦ ♦   

Supreme Court says Miranda rights aren't actually rights so no more suing about them 


♦ ♦ ♦   

Scenes from a militarized NYPD funeral 

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Shamed on-line. 

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This restaurant stinks. 

♦ ♦ ♦  

FEMA to uninsured Montanans:
'Take responsibility for your own disaster recovery'

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Afghan held at Gitmo for 15 years released by court 

♦ ♦ ♦  

Schools are spending billions on high-tech defense against mass shootings 

♦ ♦ ♦   

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

♦ ♦ ♦

The End
John Bates
James Rado
spʅǝᴉɥS ʞɹɐꟽ
Jean-Louis Trintignant 

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. The obituary for John Bates reminded me what a wonder The Avengers was. You were also a fan?

    1. The name John Bates didn't ring any bells, but I mos def appreciated his work, and I was (and am) a big fan of The Avengers. It was a terrific show, still among my favorites.

      Somewhere on a thumb drive there's a half-written article about my love for that show. Fortunately, I deemed the article crap and never finished it. :)


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