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The dancer and the driver

At the bus stop, a scruffy-looking white man was skywalking toward me — trying to tap dance but slightly stumbling every few steps. I assessed him not a danger, just Gene Kelly on drugs, so I didn't step away, and after a few twirls his dance brought him to my proximity.

"Got a light?" he stopped to ask me.

"I don't smoke," is my standard answer since it's true.

"Got a smoke?" he asked.

I thought we'd covered that, but again I said, "I don't smoke." This time I smiled.

"Got any weed?" was his next question.

"No, man, I'm not carrying any weed." Or crack, ecstasy, or XYZ or whatever you're on.

He walked away, still sorta dancing, like he's auditioning for Broadway at the bus stop. To the corner he walked and danced, and then he bowed, whirled, and danced in my direction again.

When I'm waiting for a bus, sometimes I pace the sidewalk just like he was doing, only I walk, and he dances. As I watched, he slightly stumbled on an empty beer can.

Then he danced toward me, and as he approached and passed, I said, "High again," but he didn't get the pun. 

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The can he'd kicked was one of half a dozen beer and soda cans on the sidewalk, along with burger wraps, empty cigarette packs, etc. Twenty years ago, there would've been old newspapers blowing around, too, and you could grab a page and read it if it hadn't rained too much, too recently.

The litter isn't because bus riders are more slobbish than anyone else (well, maybe a little). It's because at most bus stops there's no trash can, and at the busier stops, where there is a trash can, it's emptied so rarely there might as well be no trash can.

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Me and the dancer both got onto the same #F bus when it came. He danced to a seat, and I could see his feet were still tapping all the way back to Burien.

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Before we left the station at Southcenter, the driver studied the rear view mirror for a long time. He kept looking in the mirror, at everyone seated and standing on the bus. "Are we good?" he asked twice, but I don't know who he was asking and the mirror didn't answer. 

The driver kept watching the rear view mirror as if it was interesting, and when he asked a third time, "Are we good?", someone sitting up front replied, "Uh, we're good," and finally the bus pulled forward.

It was an unusual ride. Our driver drove like the dancer had danced, a little bit here, a little bit there. He gave the route his artistic interpretation.

All the bus stops are of course on the sidewalk, but even in very light traffic this driver preferred the inside lane, so we switched lanes constantly. And never for a reason.

At one stop, the driver pulled the bus over and pushed the button to open all doors, and we waited ten seconds or so. Same as any other stop, only nobody had rung the bell to get off. Nobody had gotten on. And then he closed the doors, and we continued on our way.

There a stop sign inside parking lot at the Tukwila Transit Center, so the driver stopped the bus and looked both ways, like you're supposed to. There was no other traffic, but we waited and waited and maybe we'd still be waiting, except that the same guy who'd said "Uh, we're good," eventually said, "Hey, can we go?" so we went.

At no time did any of this feel dangerous, but it was a trip, not merely a ride. Usually, the entertainment is looking out the window, or looking at the people. This time it was the driver.

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Oh, was I supposed to call Metro and say, "Is my driver drunk or something?" Izzat what a good citizen would do? Not me. It would take something exceptionally scary or rude to get me to fink on a bad driver.

And anyway, he wasn't a bad driver. I don't think he was drunk or stoned. He was simply sleepy, or maybe hung over. He drove, let's say, eccentrically, but he did his job just fine — got me where I was going, without hitting anything on the way. 

1/16/2023   

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