We were in that special place following the conclusion of a night shift–and by place I mean both physical and psychological. Physical, because walking into the base in those wee hours is a different experience–a beacon of spacious brightness, unusual following everything you’ve just experienced, like a temple in the woods; and psychological, because only the people there at that hour can relate to your experience. Only they know what night shift involves, sounds like, feels like. Things are normal to you that aren’t for others, funny for you but not for the rest, wanted or seen by only you. I enjoy strolling back into this common space.

“Mr. Vass!” yelled Thomas, like me exhausted but happy. I’d waved at him on the street earlier, and now was our chance to talk.
“We meet at last! Did you have a fine evening on the 70?”

I love how Thomas matches my slightly (should that be very?) ridiculous turns of phrase. I can never tell how serious he’s being, but I know exchanging such Victorian volleys always brings us both up. He called out in reply, “It was a wonderful, beautiful, inspirational evening, plenty of people familiar with Christianity enjoying their Easter–“
“Oh, that’s right!”
“And somebody even left me this beautiful phone!”
“Gosh, look at that beast! That puts this… to shame!” I pulled out my phone by comparison–2014’s woefully underpowered Samsung ZTE Zinger, barely four inches and archaic from the day of its release, the world’s tiniest, sorriest excuse for a smartphone. I’m always behind on gadgets.

“HA!” We destroyed the building with our laughter. The place was in ruins. We cackled it to dust. 
Through his guffaws he said, “Is that your phone?”
“It is!”
“You don’t–that’s what I like about you, Nathan–“
“I like to keep it low key!”
“I wanna be you when I grow up! Like, when I’m like eighty years old, like, the only thing I want is like a cone with some string strung to it, and if like you can’t find the can on the other side to talk to me–“
“We’re not havin’ a conversation!”
“–we have nothin’ to talk about anyway! Yeah, I just want to get simplified.. hey, what’d you think of that protest?”
“You know, I… missed it! I started after it ended.” 
“Awwwww…”
“How was it?”
“You know, it was, it was very, uh… It allowed me to break out my qualities of patience and understanding…”
I grinned. “An excellent character-building afternoon?”
“It was wonderful. It was special.”
“It always is.”

We were fatigued and sore, but we weren’t concerned. We’d sat in traffic for eight hours and picked up unhappy people. 

Whatever, man. 

It’s all about how you choose to look at things.

Nathan Converses With His Colleagues: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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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.

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