Best and worst bus rides of the week

leftovers & links
Monday, May 29, 2023

A middle-aged southeast Asian woman wearing one of those lovely swirling gowns rang the bus bell, but she didn't get off at the next stop. She seemed confused, and stood and asked the bus driver a question, a very long question, with an accent so heavy I couldn't understand a word. Honestly, it might have been Punjabi, except for her last line, "Is it zero nine, or is it zero eight?"

The driver couldn't understand what she was asking, but he listened, even tried to answer, holding us at the bus stop while they talked. She asked her very long question a second time, then a third time, and each time it was thirty seconds of words I could make no sense of, followed by, "Is it zero nine, or is it zero eight?"

Even that one sentence made no sense. There's nothing in Seattle that's either zero nine or zero eight, but she kept asking, and the driver kept trying to be helpful. You want bus drivers to be helpful, right?

We idled at that stop for several minutes, and none of the passengers complained. Finally the driver gave up and said, "Sorry, I can't understand what you're asking," and started the bus moving again.

The lady sat down, but a mile later she stood up again, approached the driver, and through his plexiglass COVID shield she gave an encore of her performance piece, starting again with the long spiel nobody could understand, and then, "Is it zero nine, or is it zero eight?"

The driver pulled over, and tried again to understand, but that's when people started grousing. "Just drive the bus, driver," someone said. It wasn't me, no sir. I was enjoying the show.

The only thing I said was, "You could call the help line," and I wasn't even being a smartass. Metro Transit has a call center with multi-lingual staff, so whatever that lady was asking about zero nine or zero eight, she could've called and asked someone who spoke her language, and probably gotten an answer.

Eventually she rang the bell again and got off at zero eight-and-a-half, and everyone but me was glad she was gone. We all got where we were going, maybe five minutes later than we would've otherwise been. Some of the passengers were still grumbling about it, but it was my favorite ride of the week.

My least favorite ride this week was Friday morning, which was also my least favorite morning. Everything went wrong.

Dean, the flatmate I despise, took his morning shower much later and longer than usual, blocking me from my shower, and from a desperately-needed morning poop. So I pooped in my emergency bucket/toilet, and went to work still caked with Thursday's sweat.

For the ride downtown, Metro sent a small bus, with about 40 seats. Usually we get an articulated bus, with sixty seats. It's the difference between having a seat for yourself and having to share, and for me — so fat I can't share a two-person seat — it meant standing all the way.

And we had a brake-riding driver. I frickin' hate brake-riders, especially when I'm standing. In stop-and-go "rush hour" traffic, the driver should coast the bus slowly, using Star Trek's impulse power, but lots of drivers jam the brake, then hit the gas, brake, gas, brake again, even when the maximum speed they're going to attain is 5 mph. It's seasick-making when you're sitting, and balance-challenging when you have to stand.

Once downtown, I trotted to my next stop and barely missed the #550 bus to the island, not because I was late but because the #550 was two minutes early. It pulled away when I was half a block from the stop.

For vengeance I picked up half a dozen of the rent-a-scooters that always block the sidewalk, and stacked them on top of each other in a little Watts Tower.

When the next #550 came, it was a cruddy old Metro bus. Metro is the county bus system, but #550 is a Sound Transit route — that's a separate tri-county service with buses that have much thicker seats and a superior suspension. Only, not on days when Sound doesn't have enough buses and they borrow one of Metro's old beater-buses that date back to the 1990s. An uncomfortable, bouncy ride awaited, and another brake-riding driver.

And the driver jolted the gas just as I was sitting down, which somehow smashed the underside of my knee against the seat support, and hard. It took all I had in me not to cry like a toddler, and it hurt all day, and it still hurts, and it's become a giant purple bruise, and where's my lawyer and wah wah wah.

Gotta mention, I am always impressed at how well my bucket/toilet seals the stink. My poop is still in the bucket, lid down, and it was a pungent poop, but even days later you can't smell it in the room.

At least, not over the cat litter I intended to tend to this weekend, but didn't.

Ever wonder how crooked a Republican has to be before other Republicans decide it's too crooked?

The answer might be Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. He's been flamboyantly criminal his entire life, and under indictment for the past eight years, and now he's finally been impeached, but it's still dicey whether the Republican-controlled state senate will convict him and finally, permanently remove this scum from being, hilariously, the top-ranking lawyer in Texas.

Here's yet another priest diddling small children. Seems hardly even worth mentioning, since diddling small children is what priests do.

What gets me is this familiar line, familiar because only the nouns ever change: "…in 2003, former San Francisco Archbishop William Levada declared [the victim]'s allegations to be 'unfounded'. [The priest] was returned to ministry and continued to work as a priest over the ensuing two decades."

Why the holy hell is an Archbishop allowed to decide a priest's guilt or innocence? At this point, it's safe to assume any high-ranking Catholic official is a co-conspirator. These cases belong in criminal court, and then civil court.

For all the myriad failings of America's shitty, racist, money-owned justice system, the courts get guilt and innocence right lots more often than the Catholic Church, which doesn't even try.

Starbucks has nuked Ithaca off the map of America, in a brazenly illegal act of anti-union retaliation.

Of course, if you're patient and wait three or five years, the company will negotiate a small fine from the Departments of Labor or Commerce, admitting no wrongdoing. That future fine will sounds like lots, but it'll be piffle to Starbucks, and well worth the price for what's been accomplished by closing all their Ithaca stores — intimidating workers nationwide, to keep strangling even the idea of unionization.

I don't understand how anyone who claims to have a conscience can be a Republican, how anyone pretending to love Christ can be a Catholic, and why anyone, even someone who enjoys burnt, overpriced coffee, gets coffee at Starbucks.

If that's you I'm describing, rethink your thinking please, or simply fuck off.

News you need,
whether you know it or not

Orcas are attacking boats 

They held down a Black teen who tried to shoplift. He died from asphyxia. Why was no one charged? 

Cheers as Canadian school district rejects call to remove library books on sexuality, gender identity 

Google delays killing third-party cookies as it develops something almost as icky 

Panama Canal imposes restrictions on shipping due to drought 

James Hansen warns of a short-term climate shock bringing 2 degrees of warming by 2050 

Climate change may lead to massive tsunamis from Antarctica 

California's cliffs are crumbling as climate change reshapes the coast 

Warmer world will affect hurricane season 

"I want my left eye back": victims of 2020's US police violence speak out 

$19-million settlement over another "mental health crisis" killing by cops 

Mother of 8-year-old girl who died in Border Patrol custody says pleas for hospital care were denied 

A year after Uvalde, officers who botched response face few consequences 

Police have fatally shot more than 8,500 people since 2015, with Black Americans shot at a disproportionate rate

Mystery links
There's no knowing where you're going


My browser history
without the porn

16 crucial words that went missing from a landmark civil rights law 

Washington DC bargained away rural America 

Some people get away with doing nothing at work 

I've lived into my 40s without ever owning a smartphone. Hopefully I'll never have to.

♫♬  It don't mean a thing  ♫
if it don't have that swing

Bongolia — Incredible Bongo Band 

House of the Rising Sun — Wilbert Eckart & Volksmusik Stars 

Man on the Moon — REM 

Right Field — Peter Paul & Mary 

That Kind of Girl — Mary Lou Lord 

Eventually, everyone
leaves the building

Stanley Deser 

Alexander Wallace Dreyfoos, Jr 

Sam Gross 

Leon Ichaso 

Cotton Nash 

Floyd Newman 

Marta Wisa


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 ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, CaptCreate's Log, Looking for My Perfect Sandwich, One Finger Medical, Two Finger Magical, Miss Miriam's Mirror, Nebulously Burnished, RanPrieur.com, Voenix Rising, and anywhere else I've stolen links, illustrations, or inspiration. 

Special thanks to Linden Arden, Becky Jo, Wynn Bruce, Joey Jo Jo, John the Basket, Dave S, Name Withheld, and always extra special thanks to my lovely late Stephanie, who gave me 21 years and proved that the world isn't always shitty.


  1. Reminds me of the time I went into a Starbux in Tacoma and said, "This is probably the weirdest question you've gotten this week but do you have any coffee that doesn't taste like Starbux coffee?" (Yeah, I know, still the smart ass...) Eel

    1. We tried to run their corporate asses out of Tacoma years ago on the basis that they were burning coffee without a burn permit, and doing so occasionally during a burn ban.


    2. I think I met someone for a gig at Starbucks in the 90s, but other than that I've never. And I've definitely never had their nasty-smelling coffee. Burn ban, indeed.


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