Picture 1


He came up to me at 135th, scabrous and gristled. This was last Christmas Eve, on the 358.

“You give a good ride, man.”
“Well, thanks, man. You got plans for the holiday?”
“Yeah, I’m gonna get off here, go over to KFC.”
“Oh, right on.”
“Yeah, gonna grab some dinner for my girlfriend. We’re gonna stay in tonight, watch some TV.”
“Sounds good to me, chance to relax. ‘What it’s all about, right?”

What I felt was not pity but admiration. He existed outside of all the shame, the hunger for status that drives so many of us, leading us to places of inadequacy and judgment, washing away the awareness of what’s truly important. I daresay his Christmas Eve was, in its barren simplicity, likely more stress-free than any number of his fellow Seattlelites.

We hope you loved this article. If so, please consider subscribing or donating. The Urbanist is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that depends on donations from readers like you.

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.