Three bus rides, with editorials

Leaving the diner one fine morning, it was impossible not to notice a black man in gym clothes doing deep-knee bends in the suicide lane — the two-way right-turn lane in the middle of the busy arterial that runs in front of the restaurant. Must be a cousin, I figured, to the man standing in a downtown intersection a few weeks ago, but this guy wasn't technically blocking traffic, since no-one was waiting to turn right.

Still, seems an odd place for a morning workout. 

For the briefest flash of time, I considered saying something or doing something, but decided against.

What, should I have walked into the middle of the street, to tell a stranger what he's doing might be unsafe? He'd have to be crazy not to know it already, so no, I wasn't going to chat with a crazy man in the suicide lane.

Should I have called 9-1-1, so the city could send police to shoot the man dead? That's what happens all too often, when cops are called for a "mental health crisis," so no, I didn't do jack.

I watched, that's all, and shook my head at America, a place that manufactures insanity and does nothing about it.

When my southbound bus came, the man was doing jumping jacks as the bus zoomed right past him. 

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About ten minutes from home, my afternoon bus climbs a long, almost entirely undeveloped hill in the Seattle South. Feels like about a mile, all at a steep angle, through woods, with little sign of civilization except at the bottom and top of the hill.

Several times riding the 5:15 bus, there's been a bum at the bus stop at the bottom of the hill, or someone struggling with a granny cart, and when the driver pulls over and opens the door they'll ask, "Can I please have a ride up the hill?" The gruff ones say it more than ask it, and forget the please. The frail ones say it slow and dainty, like they're afraid to ask. They don't have the fare, and it's a big hill, like I said.

Never yet seen a driver so prickish as to say no at the bottom of the hill, but nobody should have to ask

I've said this before, and I'll never stop saying: Public transit is essential to a city, makes things better for riders and cars and the whole damned Earth, so the buses ought to be free for everyone.

Damned right you can get a ride up the hill. Down the hill, too.

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One morning on a crowded ride, my seat was facing forward, giving me a clear view of someone seated in a sideways seat a few rows ahead of me. Blonde. Young. Possibly pretty, but it was hard to tell, behind the mask covering most of her face.

And then it occurred to me, she was possibly a he, a cute twink. The breastage was minimal, the hair was short, and there were silver earrings, but everybody wears earrings these days.

It was a mystery, and with nothing else to do on a bus slowed by stop-and-go traffic, the question of that person's gender took 15 seconds of my attention, before I got bored and realized that it makes no never-mind to me.

Republicans spend their lives furious about things the rest of us get past in a quarter of a minute.


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