Riding the bus with cops

There's a 7-Eleven out the window on my homebound bus. I've only seen it in passing, never set foot inside, but one afternoon it was boarded up and padlocked, and I was momentarily saddened at the loss of junk food and jobs in the neighborhood.

Numerous times over the next couple of weeks, northbound and southbound, I rode past that boarded-up 7-Eleven, and soon stopped giving it even a moment's thought. There's no shortage of boarded-up businesses.

And then yesterday, it wasn't boarded up. Glass windows were back, crowded with signs advertising bargain cigarettes and beer and Slurpees.

By my mental calendar that store had been closed for about three weeks, and there were no "grand opening" or "under new management" signs when it re-opened.

I think the owners took a vacation, that's all.

Seems kinda bogus, though, that they don't trust the employees to mind the store while they're gone. We're going to Hawaii, so you're out of work until we get back.  

Standing up for the little guy, I'm now boycotting that 7-Eleven. That'll show 'em.

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A few miles away and on a different bus route, we rode past Dumplings of Fury. The internet says they make noodles and bao and, of course, dumplings. I don't know that cuisine, ain't eating there, and don't even have a story about the place. I just like the name. 

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On the #120 a week or so ago, we were on a normal northbound journey, nothing interesting to report, until a lady sitting in the sideways seat directly behind the driver said loudly, "Driver, I'm sorry, but I threw up."

I hadn't seen or heard it happen, but now that she mentioned it, there was a large, fresh blop of yellow and red modern art on the floor of the bus, in front of her.

The driver, busy driving, didn't understand what she'd said, so she had to repeat it. Had to shout it: "I threw up!"

"Oh," the driver said. At the next stop, a few blocks later, he pulled the bus to the side, and came back to look at the vomit. It really was a lovely vomit, by the way, and the driver was very polite about it, and asked if the lady was OK.

"Oh, yeah, I'm feeling much better now, but I'm sorry about the mess."

He studied the puke for a moment, and then grabbed three bus schedules from the display rack. Unfolding the schedules, he put them on the floor, covering most of the vomit. Guess he missed a spot, because he then unfolded and added a fourth schedule. Then he sat down and we continued on the route.

The barfy lady got off a little later, and when I stepped off the bus, the schedules were still on the floor, soaked through. Which seems like a reasonable response to puking on the bus. Can't expect the driver to mop it up.

I'm telling all this, though, because when I was trained on driving the short bus last summer, we were told that if any passenger poops, pees, pukes, or bleeds anywhere on the bus, it must be treated as a hazardous waste site. Seriously, we were told to get the passengers off, call Dispatch, and consider the bus to be out of service.

But just like all their sermons about never ever ever curbing the bus, the hazardous waste thing was bullshit. You can't pull a bus out of service over a little puddle of retch.

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On a different #120, headed the opposite direction, there was a big burly white cop standing up near the front of the bus. If I'd seen him before stepping on, I would've waited for the next bus, but already on board and with my pass in my hand, I flashed it to the box and said "Excuse me" and squeezed past the big muscular man with a gun.

You never see police riding the bus, and I mean never, so this was peculiar. And uncomfortable. Obviously and with good reason I don't like cops, and having one standing up, embroiled in a long and friendly conversation with my bus's driver, made me feel less safe, not more.

Sitting in my seat, I counted five scary-looking leather cases attached to the deputy's belt — two on one side, two on the other, and one in the back that would seem awkward for his to access. Something scary, perhaps deadly, was inside each of the leather cases. And I'm not even counting the holster. 

The cop was in "Officer Friendly" mode, talking to the driver about fishing trips or some such, and the driver asked him, "Where are you from?"

"I grew up in Sand Point, Idaho," said the cop, "but I went to college in Utah," and all I could think was, Could that cop have been any whiter?

A few blocks later, a homeless-looking dude was waiting at the stop, and the driver pulled the bus over and opened the door to let him on. Unlike me when I got on, the bum looked inside the bus, and he stayed where he was.

"He's not getting on?" the cop asked the driver. The driver closed the door, and accelerated away. No, he's not getting on, deputy, officer, sir. You scared him away.

Then my stop was next, so I rang the bell. Since the cop was up front, I turned to get out at the rear, but standing at the bus's back door were four more cops. The one cop up front had so disoriented me when I got on, that I hadn't noticed the rest of his party in the back, just standing and talking to each other.

The lettering on their jackets said, "Sheriff, Anti-Terror," and I thought, Anti? They were the most terrifying thing I've seen on the bus in a long time.

I turned around again, a full 360°, to step off at the bus's front door, past the solo gendarme, wondering what the hell.

Googling revealed that they were part of the King County Sheriff's Office Joint Transit Anti-Terrorism Team (JTATT), taking "a comprehensive strategic approach that enhances capabilities to detect, deter, and prevent terrorist attacks."

And indeed, the anti-terror team must be very effective, since never once has a bus I've been on blown up.


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