A Disease You Wanted to Catch


Picture 9


Northbound Aurora at 100th. Leaning into the front door:

“Hey, did you see a, I left a wallet a couple hours ago…?”
“Uhh,” I said.

I look around on the dash. This coach has been out all day, already operated on for eight hours by another operator. We have an agreement where she leaves her lost and found items with me, instead of her taking them back to base. It doesn’t affect the process of the items’ transit to the Lost and Found Office, but it does give the items several more hours to remain on the road. I prefer this because you never know who might be out there, bus-hunting, trying to find their lost item. Lost items take 24 hours to show up in the Lost and Found Office, and sometimes that’s too long.

I do have a lost wallet today. It’s an unusual one- huge, black, really big, with a lot of pockets.
“Describe it to me.”
“Um, it’s big, it’s really big, black, with a lot of pockets.”

“I got you!” I said, smiling, handing him the goods. He made a wordless exclamation of joy, his once anxious face instantly transformed into a radiating, glowing orb. I felt thrilled just to be giving it to him, but I knew my excitement was no match for what he must have felt. He stayed on board, going home, his gratitude spilling out on everyone around him.

“I thought I had lost my wallet,” he blurted out to anyone who would listen, and to quite a few more who wouldn’t. “I’d lost it, I’d asked I don’t know how many drivers, standing out here for hours and all of the sudden, he’s got it! He had it! I found it!”

The others shuffled around him. A few commuters listened, but for the rest his praises fell on deaf ears. He didn’t care. He had the glow. I smiled, watching him in my mirror, a spirit awakened, vivified out of despair. Happiness poured forth from him like a living organism, omniscient and spreading, a disease you wanted to catch. He’d been swimming for too long, grasping in the dark for air, and now he was on dry land.

Read more work by Nathan at www.nathanvass.com.

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Nathan Vass is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, and author by day, and a Metro bus driver by night, where his community-building work has been showcased on TED, NPR, The Seattle Times, KING 5 and landed him a spot on Seattle Magazine’s 2018 list of the 35 Most Influential People in Seattle. He has shown in over forty photography shows is also the director of nine films, six of which have shown at festivals, and one of which premiered at Henry Art Gallery. His book, The Lines That Make Us, is a Seattle bestseller and 2019 WA State Book Awards finalist.