Wasting his life on drugs

On a #99 bus far later than my usual #99, it was a luxury not having to hope for a seat. Rush hour had been hours earlier, so there weren't many passengers. Ought to be a quicker ride home, too.

Then the bus slowed and stopped in a crosswalk, and the driver said softly, "Now what the hell?"

So I looked to see what the hell. We were at Second Avenue @ Jackson Street, downtown — two major arterials, multiple lanes, and in the bus's lane, directly ahead, stood a young gentleman, looking the other way.

Streets are not usually for loitering, but this man had an easygoing posture, like he was standing in an open meadow on a sunny day. Why, yes, I would like a lemonade, thanks. Hands behind his back, he was looking skyward, studying the clouds or admiring the sunset through the evening haze. In our lane of traffic.

The driver wailed on the horn, and the man in the street seemed to hear it from a mile away. He turned a little left, then hesitated and turned the other way, all while standing in basically the same spot. He faced us, smiling, and had better teeth than mine. He waved at the bus and laughed, as if the concept of a bus was mildly ridiculous.

The driver shook his head and sighed, a sigh that said he hadn't seen this particular idiocy before, but he'd seen a lot of idiots and idiocies, and there'll be more, probably later tonight.

The man in the street wasn't moving nor even thinking of maybe moving, so with half a minute's effort the driver maneuvered the bus into the inside lane. Giving the standing man enough room for safety meant edging the bus over the yellow line, a few feet into where oncoming cars would be, but traffic was light, and those drivers could see what was happening. They yielded as they could, and nobody yelled or flipped the bird. Seattle ain't Brooklyn.

And then onward we rolled, and the bus driver said, mostly to himself, "That man isn't even 25 years old, looks basically healthy, but he's just wasting his life on drugs."

That seemed a fair assessment at first, and I said nothing to either agree or argue, but over the next few blocks his words bounced around inside my head.

Granted, by society's definitions the driver was right. Unless it was a medical or mental condition, that man standing in the street was wasting his life on drugs.

Gotta wonder, though, is that worse than wasting his life the way everyone else does, in an angry marriage, or at a tedious job, or sitting in a lumpy recliner waving at the internet as it goes by, and sometimes adding a page to be lost among trillions of other pages…

No, I'm not saying my own life is wasted, or yours or anyone else's. I'm saying that man in the street isn't wasting his life either, if standing in the intersection at 2nd @ Jackson is what he wants to be doing.

The smile on that man's face was genuine. He sure seemed to be having a better day than my day had been, or the bus driver's.



  1. Yes it IS worse to waste your life standing in the middle of an intersection stoned on drugs. Life is a million choices but that is an especially stupid choice.

    You know I love you though.

  2. You say it's wasted, it's worse, but it's a judgment call, not objective truth. Lots of people would say my life's been wasted, but I say, philosophically, fuck 'em all.


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