Guacamole and glass

 Or, "One fine morning
at the bus station"

On a rare bench at the transit center, an old black lady and an old white lady were huddled close together.

They're friends, was my first thought, or maybe they're a couple, and maybe they were. But the black lady was dipping something into a wad of tin foil in her hand, and the white lady was crouching toward her, waiting for her turn. 

If I'm up on the latest moral panic, they were doing fentanyl.

That's the panic with the tin foil, right? The news says it's what the kids are into these days. Those ladies were both my age, though — really old, but perhaps young at heart.

♦ ♦ ♦   

It's February, but Santa was waiting at the bus station. He's a black man, and wore the red jacket with white fringes, the red pants, even the big shiny belt buckle. He had no beard, though, and no cap. He was "Casual Santa," just waiting for the #165 bus.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Standing gets boring and cramps my legs, so usually at the bus station I walk around, and after a bit my pacing brought me back to where the fentanyl ladies had been. The black lady was far away, walking around and talking to the sky, but the white lady was still on the bench, fumbling with her lighter and a (tobacco) cigarette.

She looked at me as I was looking at her, and she hollered, "Hey, mister!" so like a good puppy I approached.

"Don't forget to sing," she said, very seriously. "Never forget to sing."

I didn't sing, but I smiled. Seattle has its charms, and I'm glad I moved back here.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

When a bus is idling at a station or the end of the line, the driver is supposed to put a wheel chock under one of the front tires. It's a safety rule — the wheel chock prevents a runaway bus, if it slips into gear or the brake fails.

Well, a driver at the Burien Transit Center didn't fully understand the rule. She put the wheel chock behind the wheel. That might prevent a reverse runaway, but the pavement at the bus station slopes slightly down a hill, so a wheel chock behind the wheel can't prevent anything.

Ah, it's probably a BS rule anyway. Do runaway buses ever really happen?

♦ ♦ ♦  

Here's a moment so ugly and unsettling that I've hesitated to write about it. It happened about a month ago, and for that long I've been skipping over the two words I'd jotted in my notebook — "eating glass." I want to rip that page out of the notebook, so here's what happened:

A shattered jar of bright green guacamole dip was on the station's concrete walkway. Broken glass is not unusual in any urban setting, but a young bum was kneeling over the mess with a small plastic spoon, scooping and eating the guacamole.

I didn't say anything, because a man from the always-present Bible outreach station had come to the guacamole feast, and he was saying what I might've said. In difficult but understandable English (this particular preacher usually speaks Spanish) he was saying that a tiny bit of glass swallowed might cut you up from inside.

The bum shook his head no, but carefully studied every spoonful before putting it into his mouth, and he did put a longish shard aside. Mostly it was bon appétit, though — he'd swish it on his tongue for a moment, then swallow.

The street preacher offered to take the bum to the convenience store next door, and buy him an unopened, unshattered jar of guacamole, if he'd only leave the broken jar undisturbed on the sidewalk.

The bum said OK, swallowed one last spoonful, and the two men walked toward the QuickMart together.

Then my bus came and took me home, where I'm so very wealthy I throw food in the trash when it looks even slightly off color.



  1. >If I'm up on the latest moral panic, they were doing fentanyl.

    Likely smoking heroin. This is a method that has been used for years, as opposed to injection. See "Bad Lieutenant" for an example of it in action.

    1. Actually, here you go:


    2. This is *exactly* what those ladies at the bus station were doing, right down to the tube in Keitel's mouth. Thanks for your expertise.

      I am utterly unconcerned about it, of course.

    3. Captain, I'm not in the market, but I AM curious: how much does a hit of smokable heroin for two cost these days? I'm just asking for an estimate.

      I'm not waiting on a lady
      I'm just waiting on friend
      (I'm just waiting on a friend)


    4. Just for comparison, a hit of mescaline or acid was three bucks in 1970, and you generally got what you ordered. I understand that the menu options have changed in the intervening years.


    5. Three bucks sounds good, but old-time prices befuddle me. Two loaves of bread for a dollar in the 1990s, and I was seeing double features in theaters for a dollar as recently as 2005 or so, but I can't even remember prices in the 1970s.

    6. JTB, I dunno. I've been drug-free since I moved to PA almost a decade ago, and when I did drugs, I never did anything "harder" than pot, Ecstasy, or acid. Much like my music, my drug knowledge is stuck in the mid-90s.


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