Posts Tagged ‘bus-riding’

Fresh-scented bus

I just took a bus to the grocery store. I take the bus from the very end of the route and when you arrive at the bus stop, you usually find the driver taking a well-earned break.

The driver I rode with today is one I have been seeing for years. He is a self-confessed clean-freak and I often find him wiping down surfaces with Lysol disinfectant and spraying air-freshener throughout the bus. He himself is always immaculate – even down to his spotlessly-white driving gloves! – and he lines his seat with bus schedules to keep his pants clean. (Another bus driver I know always lines the seat – “you never know who’s been sitting in it, or what they’ve been doing in it!”)

Today, he finished his ritual by emptying the garbage pail in the trash bin at the stop. Several of us were waiting to board the bus and kidded him a little about the cleaning – to which he jokingly responded, “I don’t know how you lot live with each other. I’d like to be up in space where everything is sterile!”

But I have to say – his bus smelled just lovely:)

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Snow angst on the bus

Word on the street is that Seattle is facing the worst winter in decades. It might be true. I used to be in climatology and I will buy the arguments for the seasonal forecast – and there’s a good chance it will be realized – for the Pacific Northwest in general. What it means for Seattle, however, is not so clear. But, as it only takes a mere dusting of snow to create chaos and panic in this town, the very mention of snow in any forecast has a way of rattling folks.

I spent many years in New England and got comfortable and confident driving in quite severe winter storms – often in just a front-wheel drive car with all-season radials. And if I did run off the road, I was usually able to get the car out myself, with a bit of the ol’ back’n’forth rock’n’rolling. The prospect of a major storm never really worried me, and rarely caused me to change plans. But that was a long time ago. And I am now a weather lightweight who can’t believe she once thrived in New Hampshire.

When you haven’t seen much snow in a while, you forget how to drive (and even walk) in it. Most Seattle drivers just don’t know how to deal with it. Add to that the freezing rain that often mixes with the snow and ices up roads almost immediately. Add to that an environmental mindset that has kept Seattle from using road salt for years. Add to that the relatively few snow plows owned by the city. Add to that the steep hills and highway ramps. Well! It’s a mess I’ll tell you!

In winter weather, those who usually commute by car will chicken out and decide to take the bus instead (until they know better!!) In turn, those who usually commute by bus will walk, work from home, or call in absent. When it snows in Seattle, there is one general rule of thumb when it comes to taking the bus. Forget it! Anyone who tries to take a bus will be in for a VERY long wait. And if a bus does eventually show up, it will be Tokyo-Subway jam-packed – and may be unable to pick up any more people.

The buses do get chained up, but much of the fleet is comprised of those 60-foot articulated jobs – and they jack-knife very readily on slippery roads. And most of the drivers have minimal experience of winter driving and get in trouble very easily. In the aftermath of a snowstorm, there are jack-knifed and/or abandoned buses all over the county. It’s quite an operation rounding them all up to bring back to the barn!

So, I am gearing myself for a lot of walking. I have good clothes and boots, and even a pair of snowshoes (a relic from my New England life.) I just need to get a pair of those traction doo-dads to put over my boots. I know a good shortcut if I have to walk to work – but it’s very hilly. I might even get some crampons!!

Anyway, I just mention this because I was on the 22 earlier today, and a couple of people remarked at the chill in the air. Then another person had to remark that if felt like it does when snow is on the way. And voilĂ ! There was snow angst on the bus! Winter hasn’t even arrived yet, and people are already wound up about it!

Funny thing is, despite the gloomy skies, the afternoon turned out to be pleasantly mild. It was around 50F when I got home:)

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I have next week off work and will be enjoying a staycation, i.e., just staying in Seattle and pottering around. So this Saturday is somewhat more special than usual in that I do not return to work for nine days:)

It’s been a lovely low-key day. My errands have taken me to three major nodes in West Seattle, involving around six miles of walking and two bus rides, both of which were wonderfully relaxing. I enjoyed a latte and huge oatmeal-raisin cookie, and wrote a blog entry. I bought the perfect hat for autumn, four pairs of funky-looking socks, some organic cumin, a small carton of wine, a ball of yarn with which to finish off the poncho I crocheted, and two more houseplants. (I sometimes wonder what the economy would look like if everyone lived like me!)

Everyone I interacted with today was happy and friendly. We’re enjoying perfect autumn weather. And the buses seemed to be running on time!

I don’t think I could ask for a better day:)

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