Word Sketches Riding King County Metro

Art wall at Bay 4
Kirkland Transit Center Bay 4 Wall

When I was still working, before our move to Ashland, Oregon, I relied on King County Metro Transit to take me to work and bring me home again. Often I rode my bike down the hill to the Kirkland Transit Center Bay 4, racked my bike on the 245 and headed to work. I’d get off the bus a little over a mile from work and ride the bike path the rest of the way in. Sometimes I walked. Either way, I reversed the trip in the evening so I’d have a little walk or ride just before and just after work.

My bicycle at Bay 4
My Trek bike at Bay 4

I’m a bit shy, and a bit of a germaphobe, so not sure why I took to bus riding so readily and so well, but I did. Sometimes I wrote, sometimes I read, sometimes I simply listened to music, but I spent a lot of time enjoying watching people. I’m shy, however, in spite of that I generally like people.

Now with Covid-19, King County Metro is running on a reduced schedule with reduced capacity. Temporarily gone are the days of standing room only on the more popular routes, holding onto overhead bars or seat backs. Today it’s twelve riders maximum to each 40 foot bus and eighteen riders maximum to each articulated or 60 foot bus. I wonder about those twelve riders, or those eighteen riders, did I ride with any of them? Here are some word sketches I noted on my many bus rides of the past. All these people and scenes are real. I hope all these people are well.

Little Hands On the 245
Little hands hang
On the window seal
Face against the glass
Head turning
Laughing pointing
Smiling with joy and speaking her



The world goes by the window
Of the 245
And it is 

Grief and Kindness
It was the way the man with you gently stroked your hair back, like stroking a stunned injured bird who has just crashed into a clean window, that caught my attention. I had been reading and looked up only to give my neck some rest. It was beautiful, gentle, one loving stroke from your forehead back then his hand came to rest on his lap. He sat close but not oppressive, letting you know he was there to lean into, cry on, rely on, but giving you space. 

Then I saw your black lashes blinking rapidly purposefully and the way you swallowed and pulled your lips in. Holding beautifully erect posture. Then I sensed you were fighting back tears bearing some kind of gentle sweet quiet grief. Unobtrusively you wiped your right cheekbone with the back of your right hand and did the same on the left leaving a bit of a sheen where a few errant tears had leaked out. 

You must have sensed me watching you, I apologize for my intrusion. Lost in your grief but not so lost you couldn’t find a kind smile for a stranger.

Brave so brave to be holding it together on the bus. The sobs inside waiting to break free were palpable. I still feel them and am near crying tears for you at the same time I’m grateful for your kind smile.

The 238 is a bus that stopped at Bay 4 where I waited for the 245.
Hybrid sparkling new and quiet
Pulls into Transit Center Bay 4
In the early dawn
Lights like chandeliers 
Sparkle the interior
Pneumatic puff as the doors open
Into the cold they descend
Woven scents of soaps
From all the morning showers
Step down off the bus and hang in the air

The bus was the perfect way to get to downtown Seattle when I had Jury Duty.
Observations the 255
Scored one of the last few high seats
My bench-mate's feet swung free
White leather thongs
Celeste blue toenails
This, a busier route than my 245
Our backpacks and briefcases
Perched on our laps
We don't have the luxury
Of allowing them their own seat
The morning sun filters in
Lighting a chin of the one
In the dragon tee
Lighting a forehead of another
Across the aisle
With his Beats and his music
Nooks, Kindles, iPads, phones
The crackle of a couple of
Books, and watchers with smiles
With arms crossed bleary-eyed
The straight-ahead stare
The articulated center
Of the bus rotating 
Disorienting in my peripheral vision
Contain the last seats to be filled
Lanky boy, world's perfect eating machine
Baggy "trou"
Ball cap pulled down
And a changing of the guard
At the transit center
The girl sits down on the flare of my skirt
And thumbs still poised over his phone
One man sleeps
And Beats person reads the newspaper
Over another man's shoulder
And one man standing
And now I watch the lake
The couple across from me
Release hands as he gets up
For his stop near downtown REI 
She still smiles 
Now holding her own hands
On her lap as we pass into the 
Dark of the tunnel
Metro Mani
She walked right out of the set
Of a 1960's horror flick
You know
The lithe wispy blonde
Wearing a
Mint dress as light and flowing as a negligee
The type directors always awaken
On a dark and stormy night
Then, send her not out
Not to secure the doors
Grab some hairspray or
Something to cosh the intruder with
Or call for help
But up, up the stairs
Never go up 
Don't they know by now?
She walked right up to
Bus stop #72015
She stopped at the route sign
Her dress continued to billow and flow
As she set her pink nail polish on the sign
And proceeded to paint her nails 
As she waited for the bus
Kids From the College
Energy bars
Odwalla drinks
And bloodshot eyes
Maybe catch a few winks
Bus Bay 4
The gathering 
King County Pump Station
248 Park Lane
Students with Hello Kitty painted toes
Tech guy with his Razor scooter
Calloused chap with steel toed boots
It's the elderly couple's market day
Bottle caps and fast food wrappers building up ever waiting
For the garbage can to be emptied
Crows have left the red onion behind
I wonder where the women are
Who sit like ancient birds of prey handing out pamphlets on the northbound side
245 pulls up and we board
The blended scent of 18 different shampoos. 
Strangers? Not quite 
Red Lips
The girl with the bike at the bus stop with red lips
Looked up
Smiled at my purple boots
Went back to checking One Bus Away
In pulled the 242
She racked her bike
And climbed aboard 
In her green helmet and
Pink ballet flats with a bow 

Black Watch Plaid
Black watch plaid jeans and 4″ spike heel suede peach pumps. Sharp. She picked up the woman’s cane for her. And then the wraith thin woman with a fever sheen to her face climbed on with heavy luggage. I wondered that she could lift it. She sat and a big shiver wracked her body. She dug out her cell phone and threw one leg atop her bag. 

The college student was curled up in as fetal position as possible on a bus. Jungle red nails at the ends of her small delicate fingers. Her black knit watch cap implored “Love Me”. She had a little pout painted red. 

And everyone is talking on their cell phone
Loudly mumbling
And the baby makes a sound like a cat fight
High School, Bowling Alley
She dresses by sun not temperature
What the hell
She's cute, probably knows it but not so's you'd know it
And face it
There are no goose bumps on that exposed spaghetti strapped shoulder
Man with work boots and a backpack
Asks her "Aren't you cold?"
And it's not clear whether that was a fatherly question
Or harassment 
But I detected no editorial nor lechery
She'll get off near the high school
He'll get off near the bowling alley

They both say thank you and wish a pleasant day to the driver

Crow with treat on light standard behind red bus top
Crow with treat on light standard behind red bus top
Older bus
Not the hybrid
All painted red
To disguise itself

Her shades had Balsa wood frames 

Converse U.S. All Stars, gray

He rubbed his neck with the cold can of…something

The boy on the bus
with open black supra hightops
has fish crackers in his shirt pocket.

Bright pink toothbrush
with bright green bristles
just slid out from under a seat
on the 245. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.