He was asking if I turn into the 7. I explained the details, and he listened with those crystal blue eyes of his. They shined through the grime and matted grease of his disheveled exterior like pearls; never mind the life-encrusted Raiders jacket or the jeans, starched and shredded, and not from fashion. “Thank you, sir,” he said, politely. The contrast between appearance and voice was a surprise. I was further taken aback by his farewell: a mellow voice, the kind you had to strain to listen to. “You have a beautiful night.”

Beautiful isn’t a term you hear often in street parlance.

Such politeness. It wasn’t the first time a street person has been polite to me (as you regular readers know only too well); respect has enormous currency out here, and it reciprocates easily. It wasn’t the first time, but it was the right time. Did he know he was balancing out the universe for me, reminding me there is always a lighter half?

He couldn’t have known that only an hour earlier I’d been berated by a man in a very different mental headspace. This fellow was also on the down and out spectrum, but he’d set the humanity I’m sure he has aside in favor of a different approach: he wanted to be in the U District, and was furious that we were in the U District. Somewhere in there it all made sense. He stomped off with the tantrum of a child’s temper, the frustration we hide behind when we know it’s our fault. I hope he figures out his story.

But here’s this other guy now, still a twinkle in those silvered-out baby blues, like some sort of messenger from the universe, reminding me of the great bus driving balance of things, a balance one veteran operator long ago amusingly summed up to me as:

“There’ll always be somebody who loves you, somebody who hates you, and somebody who wants to know how to get to Everett!”

We hope you loved this article. If so, please consider subscribing or donating. The Urbanist is a non-profit that depends on donations from readers like you.

Previous articleStudy Supports Adding Restricted Parking Zones in Wallingford
Next articleWhat We’re Reading: National Tax Scam, Two-Wheeled Tweeter, and Designation Rejected
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.