“Hey, do you know what time it is?”

Southbound Third and Marion, as the world is going home. I love it when I know people’s names.

“Hey, Mr. Weyling! It’s 7:17.” He’s a spirit I know from the late-night runs, thirties maybe, angular, with a childlike sensibility unnoticed by those distracted by his penchant for stentorian volume.
After staring a moment, my face starts to make sense to him. “Oh hey, its you!” he shouts. “Do you like me?”
“Yeah, you’re a nice guy.”
“Some drivers don’t like me,” he yells. “They won’t even open the GODDAMN door.”
“That’s no good,” I reply in an agreeable tone.
“Do you know why? DISCRIMINATION!” Pause. Reflecting. “Why do I talk so loud?”

I find him endearing in a way, with his sweatpants and no-frills jacket, clothes your Mother would choose for their practicality, though she’d have found a cleaner pair; and his baseball cap, not the trendy flat-billed kind, no, just the old-school regular, a person outside the peaks and valleys of fashion. His comment about “goddamn doors” and subsequent answer are articulated with an uncomplicated passion I find oddly adorable. The last question is asked with innocence, as though he really is curious. Why do I talk so loud, after all?

I’m reminded of a long-ago memory: a girlfriend and I were waiting to cross Third Avenue in Belltown, and she circled to the other side of me, further away from a homeless gentleman on the sidewalk. The man saw this and said to me, “why’s she afraid of me?” I looked at him with kind eyes, caught dry for words. Then he sighed, saying, “why’s everyone afraid of me?”

“I don’t know,” I said. He swung his arms in the afternoon sun, one part bored and two parts frustrated, considering how the world saw a type, not a new person, when they looked at him. I wish I had bade him a good day.

Mr. Weyling likewise seemed to be asking a question not to me but to the universe. “I don’t know,” I said once again, in a friendly tone I haven’t always known how to use so comfortably.
“Do I need to see a doctor?” he bellowed. Which sounded like, is there something wrong with me?
“No, I bet you could talk quiet if you wanted to.”
“I can hear people and cars perfectly!”
Mr. Weyling grinned with pride, and without trying I couldn’t help but reflect his smile. “That means you got no problem, it’s all good!”

He gave me a thumbs up, his grin toothy and crooked, unfeigned, one of the evening’s many sparkling whispers of the bona fide.

Let me hang on to every little moment like that. Let me have the eyes to note the positive, no matter how minute, and recognize their substantiveness, that I might not rot into jadedness, or miss out on some of the very real events surrounding me, twinkling like so many fireflies in the night. We only really see what we’re looking for in this life, and the choice to be sensitive to such glimmers is a decision which has yet to tire me.

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Nathan Vass has had work displayed in over twenty photography shows, designed a book and three album covers, including two for Neil Welch. His “My Favorite Things” tour at Seattle Art Museum was the highest-attended such tour there. Nathan is also the director of eight films, four of which have shown at festivals, and one of which premiered at Henry Art Gallery. He owns a photography business, Two Photography, with Larry Huang, and has photographed a dozen-plus weddings. Born in South Central LA, he holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Washington, and is also a prolific writer and sometime painter. Formerly a Hollywood resident, he still contributes film reviews to Erik Samdahl's site, Filmjabber. In addition, he holds a side job as a public bus driver, which he enjoys almost as much as directing films- if not slightly more so! He is a two-time winner of Metro’s Operator of the Month award and holds a record number of commendations.