Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Strange and Unusual Trip

“I have been on a strange and unusual trip; and there are many ways in which I would like to talk about it”
Author Unknown (to me) – inscribed on the steps to the bus tunnel, Third & Seneca, Seattle, WA

My commute home - January 17, 2008. I had a hair appointment with Lisa at Aveda, so I’m taking a later train. I emerge from the salon at 6:15 very pleased with my hair, feeling very urbane and blasé. However, I am a little nonplussed that it is now dark. I’m not sure why my picture of the evening failed to include a sunset. At any rate there is a 6:40 train, that I can catch if I find a bus to take me the 13 blocks south. My high-heeled boots make cheerful clicking sounds as I walk up the hill to Second Avenue in search of a bus.

Approaching the bus stop at Second, I encounter a Very Interesting Person (VIP). A gentleman in his early 20’s toting a backpack and carrying on an animated and completely unintelligible conversation with himself. The woman behind me drops back and crosses the street to avoid him. I stay on course, and presently he directs his dialog to me.

“Mugh dwokr somser vlug”

While I’m trying to decide exactly what the appropriate response might be, the VIP spots something much more interesting than me. An empty plastic shopping bag blows along the sidewalk – he pounces on it with all the enthusiasm of one of my whippets attacking a lure.

I’m not really sure how I feel about being disregarded for a plastic bag. My friend is captivated by it. I twist my mental kaleidoscope a couple of degrees trying to find a view of the world where a plastic bag is the center of my attention. It doesn’t work. But clearly I am useless as a conversationalist and the bag is better company. At first I’m jealous – how exciting to live in a world where a plastic bag has the same distraction value as say, the $655 pair of leopard print Jimmy Choo’s in the window at Nordstrom. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure my Prozac dose would have to increase.

I catch my bus and make it to the train station just in time. Unfortunately, the train fails to keep its part of the bargain.

The train’s tardiness is conveyed to me by another VIP. The Amtrak attendant at the desk is a very nice gentleman with a five o'clock shadow, deep voice, long blond hair, and completely the wrong shade of lipstick for his complexion. His name tag informs me that his friends call him “Jessica”.

My kaleidoscope spins crazily for a few nanoseconds while I process Jessica. We have a lively debate over the merits of waiting for the train, which is running over an hour late and has no ETA, or taking a bus. Despite Jessica’s insistence that the train will be more comfortable, I vote for the bus. Turns out I should have listened to Jessica.

First off, I miss the next Express bus to Everett. That means I have to kick around the SoDo and Pioneer Square district after dark. Not good. I check out the bus tunnel to get a city bus to the next Express bus stop. The bus tunnel closes at 7:00. I miss the last bus. And, no one told the blasé urbane city girl that the regular buses go on an evening schedule. I make my way to a surface street bus stop and encounter two more VIPs. I do not speak their language, but it is clear from their gestures and expressions that they are not my friends.

So I walk. From King Street Station to Fourth & Union. I lost track of how many blocks that is. Many. In heels. I am not amused. In fact, I am downright cranky.

A large crowd has gathered on Fourth Avenue, a few blocks from the train. It takes a few moments for me to figure out that they are lining up to get into the mission for the night. There were well over a hundred people. Hmm. And I’m in a bad mood because my train is late and I have to walk? Perhaps I should re-evaluate.

Finally I collapse on the bench at Fourth & Union. I have 15 minutes before the bus home arrives. My feet are swollen, bleeding and numb. I look down at my brown knee-height leather boots in dismay. I would take them off if I had a way to carry them. If only I had a plastic bag.

I laugh hysterically out loud until I realize that people are crossing the street to avoid me.

I bet my VIP friend wouldn’t relate to my need for a plastic bag at that moment. But I bet Jessica would.


Anonymous said...

I think you missed your calling as a writer. you are freaking hilarious my dear.

Barb said...

I think the plastic bag man was a whippet in his former life and you just met up with him before the reincarnation was complete. :-)

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