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Friday, 26 September 2014

Seattle Freeze

If you haven't heard of the Seattle freeze, apparently it's basically a way of saying it's hard to make friends in Seattle. Either people are just hard to get to know or they will be really nice and friendly when they meet you, but then when you suggest subsequent activities, they flake out or don't follow up. Personally I thought that was just called life, but I guess the rest of the world thinks it's a Seattle thing.

One place where I didn't think this would be a problem, in fact it even seemed like a plus, is on the bus. What I didn't take into account was the "really friendly when they first meet you" part. Seriously, am I wearing a sign that says "please chat me up on the bus"? From crazy lady the other day, to a guy yesterday trying to chat about my hair (he was either gay or trying to hit on me...either way I was tired, trying to read about stereographic projections and not having any of it) and then today some lady asked about when the bus was coming and then proceeded to tell me how she was going to be late for an appointment and that she commutes every day but doesn't work Fridays and that her niece is 16 but she's in college and on the swim team and working and...


I miss Vancouver, where you could ride the bus in silence and everyone was more than happy to pretend no one else existed. Now that's how you do a freeze.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

There's a first time for everything

I have on occasion considered getting off transit to get away from someone, but I'd never actually done it until today.

I saw a single open seat on the bus when I got on, so I sat down. The woman next to me seemed completely absorbed in her phone. Perfect. When she finally looked up it was to ask if we were at street X; I was confused at first, but then I realized we were in fact more than 100 blocks north of X. That should have been my first clue.

A few more minutes pass and she decides she gonna start talking to me. I try to listen at first to be polite. She's complaining about a transit fine because she missed her stop and rode to the end of the line and stayed on the bus when it turned around so she didn't reswipe her pass. I'm smiling and nodding, not actually saying more than 2 words at a time; haven't even taken out my headphones. She continues to tell me that she was going to her boyfriend's house, but she missed the stop because she was "messed up". Uh oh, red flag number 2.

Then it gets weird. She starts talking like she knows me.
Her: "you're married right?"
Me: "uh, no" (super confused because I'm not even wearing my decoy ring)
Her: "but you have a baby right?"
Me: ""
She goes on to explain that I look like another girl with a baby that she met on the bus and that girl is pregnant, but I don't look pregnant. This naturally led into a story about a dude who thought she was pregnant once because she was wearing a big hoody with stuff in the pockets. She then continues her rant about guys by explaining she has a guy friend who really wants to sleep with her, which is messed up because she has a boyfriend and she's no cheater. Of course, this is still awkward, but I thought we established that she doesn't actually know me.

No such luck.
Her: "so how long have you been at Y?"
Me (having no idea what Y is, but not wanting to be forthcoming with personal info to a stranger on the bus): "a little while"
Her: "like a few years?"
Me: "oh not that long?"
Her: "I've been there about 8 years. So you know there's this white girl there and she's with this Puerto Rican guy. You know them right?"
Me (still with headphones in, music on and not really making eye contact): "uh, no"
Her: "oh really, you don't know them? Well they have a baby and it's like the cutest baby..."
Me: "oh yeah..."
At this point it's pretty clear there is no stopping her, nor is there any making sense of what is coming out of her clearly drug-addled brain. So at the next stop, I'm out.
Me: "well, this is my stop" (totally not my stop, not even within reasonable walking distance to my stop)
Her: "okay, thanks for listening to my..."
I have no idea how that sentence ended; I just smiled and nodded as I hauled ass off that bus.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

I should have been almost home by now

Remember that time I was at grad school orientation and after a long first day of TA training, we had a BBQ in the park and then we went out to a pub. But I was super responsible (and very tired) and left early. Then I was super pumped because my bus stop was right outside the pub and the bus showed up 30 seconds after I got there. Then I was totally on time to make my connecting bus and I could see the bus at the stop when I got there, so I booked it up a flight of stairs only to wave at the driver as she took off without me. So then I sat and wasted 15 more minutes waiting for the next bus at 9:30 at night when I still had about a 30 minute trip home AND homework to do for my next day of TA training. Remember that time? Those were good times.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Transit Transplant

Today was my first day on transit in a new city: Seattle! I've only been on 2 different buses so far, but perhaps not surprisingly, it's not much different from Vancouver. Get on, pay, try to find a seat, don't make eye contact, watch for your stop, get off. There's the usual collection of characters: the average folk, the weirdos, old people, children, and a bus driver who also comes in a variety of flavors.

Of course, there are some differences. The local buses seem quite old. They still have stairs to get on them; I felt really bad watching old people trying to get on the bus. There's no skytrain equivalent going to where I'm living, but they do have what are called RapidRide buses. They have a dedicated lane on the road to avoid traffic; they stop every 5 or 10 blocks; the buses are more like the ones in Vancouver - only one step to get on and wheelchair ramp equipped; AND's the best part ...they have free wifi on the bus! No travesty there.

All in all, getting from my place to the university was pretty simple and even without a skytrain, it took less time than it used to take me to get to SFU. There was only one small hiccup in my day. During my trip I had to transfer from bus 1 to bus 2. The google instructions told me to get off bus 1 at the corner of X and Y and to get on bus 2 at the corner of X and Y. Simple, right? Get off bus, cross street to other bus stop, board other bus...Wrong! How it actually went: Get off bus, realize there is no cross street because you're standing on a highway overpass, walk down set of nearby stairs, still no sign of said cross street, walk along parallel street which forms strange triangle with 2 other streets - neither of which is one you're looking for, cross the road and head towards underpass, breath sigh of relief when you finally see a bus stop. I'm sure it won't be the last time I have no idea where I'm going, but for now, I think I at least have that intersection figured out.