Fire and broken glass

"Hello, Ruth," said a woman who'd just stepped aboard the bus, to another woman she recognized in the sideways seats.

"Oh, hello, Charlotte. Wow, that color looks great on you."

"I've been told that before."

Being a certified hermit, the delicate points of social interaction have always eluded me, but "I've been told that before" seems like the wrong response to a compliment.

♦ ♦ ♦

It was bleak and black and 34° in the early nightfall, said a nearby bank's sign. Two Asian women or girls weren't wearing enough clothes for the weather; only matching hoodies, skirts the length of handkerchiefs, and preposterous shiny boots. Mostly they wore legs and cleavage, as they posed and took pictures or videos of each other, under the lights of the parking lot of a bankrupt business.

Maybe they were making TikTok videos? I could make no sense of it, like I can make no sense of TikTok. But it held my attention. Better than watching the bums.

Twenty people were waiting for the bus, and as it approached, the TikTok dancers put away their phones, jogged to the bus stop, and got aboard. They sat near me, and thankfully they were done taking pictures. For the ride, they simply sat together, giggling.

15 was my guess when I saw them up close, so I looked out the window. I know the rules. It was dark out, though, the girls' reflections were in the window, and there was nothing much else to look at.

Couldn't see the girl in front of me, but the one on the other side of the aisle had her feet up on the seat, giving everyone on my side of the bus an occasional peek at her pink underwear, which wasn't even titillating, honestly. More embarrassing than hot.

Two kids trying to be sexy, but incapable of it. My response was mostly worry. I scribbled these few lines in my notebook, then looked out the window, and there were their reflections again.

♦ ♦ ♦

Waiting at the transit center, a guy walked by drinking a bottled juice or something. He stumbled slightly, because the walkway has shifted and isn't quite level, and he dropped the bottle, which shattered on the walkway.

He cussed of course, but didn't seem to be drunk, only clumsy. He was such a good citizen that he squatted down, picked up the larger glass shards, and dropped them into a nearly trash bin. He wasn't carrying a broom, so of course he walked away and left the rest of the glass on the bus station's walkway.

Three security guards were standing together, leaning on a wall and facing what happened. They saw it all, but only laughed and remained leaning. Security guards don't have brooms either, and other than the guards, the station is never staffed.

So the glass shards will remain right where they are, on the concourse walkway, until the next time the bus depot is pressure-sprayed, which seems to be every few days, maybe weekly. 

And indeed, back at the bus station the next day and the day after, the jumble of glass was in the same spot. Smaller bits had been blown away by the wind or washed away in the rain or carried away on the soles of people's shows, but half-finger shards remained, with most people stepping over or around the glass.

Leaving the glass is dumb. Metro is a many-million-dollar agency that can't afford an employee with a broom?

It's part of what makes riding transit so uninviting for most folks. If it's not glass it's trash, if it's not trash it's piss, and if it's not piss it's shit. It's an announcement — the station makes several, the buses make more — that Metro doesn't care about its passengers, and the experience of being a passenger. "We run buses," they'd say, "and that's all."

It's another reason the freeways are clogged with traffic. Lots more people would switch to public transit, I think, if it didn't mean waiting at zoo bus stops to ride zoo buses.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Waiting at a downtown stop in the black of early morning, there were two roaring fires on the sidewalk, half a block up the street. From my distance the flames seemed to be under control, leaping no more than shoulder-height. What was burning I couldn't tell, but several men in rags huddled around the fire, leaning in for warmth.

As an inside person, being outside before dawn is kinda cold but it'll be over soon. I was wearing a t-shirt, a shirt-shirt, and a jacket, and would only be standing in the cold for a few minutes until the next bus came along. Buses have heat, unless the driver is a dick and refuses to flip the 'heat' switch. But mostly, they're not dicks.

For outside people, the cold is relentless. They have no indoor lives. During winter, the cold never lets up for them, all night long, and it won't get much warmer when the sun comes up. 

Of course the homeless light fires on the sidewalk, near the boarded-up doorway to a business that's been shuttered for years. What could possibly go wrong?



  1. You have a loving eye for Seattle's underbelly.

    1. That would fit on a sweatshirt stylishly.



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