We arrive twenty minutes late at the food bank on Rainer. It’s just closed. A streetwise couple hoping to go there steps off, dejected but uncomplaining. If you’re two minutes late in an affluent neighborhood, you’ll get an earful. People don’t really do that out here; bigger fish to fry, perhaps. I usually don’t apologize for being late, as it’s not something I can control, but I do to them given the circumstances.
“Sorry we got here late, you guys.”
“It’s cool. You’re just doin’ your job.”
They wander out of the bus as if in a daze. I would too, if my one source of food for the day was taken away from me. Where does one go now?
One of the great things about the utter chaos of food bank day is that some passengers will either pay me with food instead of fare, or just give me food, if they’re feeling so inclined. I grab a carton of pound cake off the dash and run after them. I don’t need pound cake in my life. “Guys, hey!”
They turn around, initial consternation quickly supplanted by appreciation. They’re too exhausted to be vociferous in their thanks, but we understand each other. As she took the carton I caught a look on his face I’ve seen before.
It was the look you and I made more often as children, the look of watching something new, something we didn’t expect, and in that moment taking in the fact that this is how the world works sometimes.
I only wish I had more food to offer.
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.