Emergency at the bus station

You've always been on your own at the Burien Transit Center. A dozen bus routes converge there, and a few benches have been provided, and there's a tall parking garage for commuters, and that's it. There's no staff, no public restroom, not even a drinking fountain with fresh rusted water.

The only amenity is a pole about man-height, with a button on it that says, "Emergency." There aren't any instructions, but my guess is that you press the button and help is supposedly on the way. Never seen the button pressed, though.

Always there are people at the transit center, lots during rush hours, waiting for their buses. There are bums and panhandlers too, and very polite street preachers who don't preach, just smile in front of their Jesus pamphlets. 

Occasionally there's someone in a mental mess, walking around loudly cursing at himself or threatening to blow up a bus or something, which can be somewhat unsettling. But buses don't often blow up.

There's never been any security at the bus station, until a few months ago. A crime of violence must've been on the news, so suddenly three security guards are on duty, mornings, evenings, weekends, any time I've been there, all summer.

One unarmed gendarme walking around might calm the bus-ridin' worries of little old ladies and pretty young women, but three pudgy guys in reflective "Transit Security" vests seems excessive, especially since they don't do anything.

They're always standing next to their "transit security" sedan, or leaning on it, the three of them talking to each other. They don't really protect anyone at the station, but they protect the sedan.

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In the months they've been on duty, I've seen the security team "in action" exactly never. Maybe that's a success? Perhaps their presence and shiny uniforms prevents any need for their presence and shiny uniforms? Maybe. 

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There was an emergency at the Transit Center a few weekends ago. Saw it all, on my way home from breakfast with the family at the diner.

My bus came into the station, and everyone stepped off because it's the end of the line. I strolled over to the slot where my bus bound for home would start its trip in too many minutes, but another bus was in that spot. 

Which happens, and isn't unusual, but this is: The bus doors were open, and nobody was getting off, and nobody was getting on, and the driver was standing outside.

At the other side of the station's block-long concrete island, a Metro Transit car was parked, and a middle-aged man wearing a 'supervisor' cap popped out and walked toward the bus, in no particular hurry.

The supe started talking with the driver, both standing on the concrete, and one of them said, "Yeah, 9-1-1 has been called."

Cool, I thought. So it's not just a bus with engine trouble, and I edged closer for a better listen and view.

Next came sirens, and a big red paramedic van parked behind the bus. Two EMTs came out and vanished into the bus's interior.

Inside, a man was in distress, while completely obscured by a Coca-Cola ad wrapped all around the bus. Young or old, black or white, there was no knowing, behind a pretty woman's lips and open mouth as she drank a Coke as big as your head. 

"I'm not feeling right," said a man's voice from inside the Coke ad, "and I tried but I can't stand up."

A moment later he elaborated, "My legs is infected, they say, always weak. I got myself onto the bus but started feeling sick, and now I can't get up to get off."

More sirens sounded, and an ambulance came, which seems cruel. The paramedics were from the county fire department, and their bright red oversized van sure looks like it's designed to transport sick or injured people, but there'd be no free rides that day.

When the paramedics brought the man out on a stretcher, I was surprised how young he looked — white guy, maybe 30, but sickly.

They rolled him toward the ambulance, and checked off some items on their clipboards, and the ambulance guys checked off some items on their clipboards, then slipped the man inside the vehicle. They turned its way-too-loud wail on, and drove away. 

The man from the bus will be bankrupt by now. People who ride public transit don't have premium Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage, and the ambulance will cost a thousand dollars. The emergency room will cost ten-thousand more. Fool should've known better than to need medical care in the USA.

The driver asked the supervisor what to do with the passenger's walker, which annoyed me a little at the moment and more as I rode my bus home. He had a walker? Well, it might come in handy if the man ever walks again, and those things fold, you know — it should've gone into the ambulance with him.

The supervisor said to leave the walker on the bus, and to drive to the garage. "You're out of service until it's sanitized," he said, 'cuz it seems the man had barfed or bled on the floor, so call the hazmat squad.

COVID is over, we're told, but the bankrupt man had said he was infected, and he'd puked or bled, and yet the only people wearing masks were me and the paramedics.

Then my bus came, wrapped in an ad for a plumber, and it couldn't pull up because the contaminated bus was in the way. The driver tooted the horn twice as announcement, and pulled into a different slot a hundred feet further on the concrete island. Couldn't see much on my ride home, because I was seated behind an enormous picture of a wrench on the window.

The whole show at the station had taken about ten minutes, and been far more entertaining than the nothing that usually happens there.

And through it all, those three security guards never walked over to see what was going on. They only watched, leaning on their "transit security" sedan. 



  1. Feels like you did an extra edit on the transit story. Not a word out of place, no extra words and none missing. Tight writing that keeps the reader moving along at slightly faster than his normal reading speed is rare enough to merit a mention. Continuing to improve as a writer when what's left of your hair is grey or white is commendable. It shows the kind of character that cause Norwegian women half a world away to seek your advice and counsel. Thanks for making the effort and being good at it.


    1. I dunno, man. I come to the plate and take a few pitches, and thanks for letting me know when the bat occasionally makes light contact with the ball.

    2. What the fuck do I know, but it seems to me that it almost always makes contact. When you hit a dinger like today I prefer giving you a standing ovation to giving you a bl*w job. Just a sexual preference, and I don't have many of those left.


    3. Yeah, I get nothin' sexwise except what I DIY, so my preference is irrelevant.


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