January 21, 2020

Nobody Knows Best - EP 2: Public Transportation

On this episode, I talk about fun public transit stories.

Transcript

Intro Music

Armory: Alright, what's up?

Armory: It's July 27, 2019. It's a cloudy day up here...in the ol' Seattle area. And it's almost 2 o'clock; it's 1:42 right now; early afternoon.

I don't know. This summer's been really weird. I feel like...it...it got really warm in May... and then we had pretty good weather in May and June. And then...from like, the end of June to July, it's been like really weird on and off rain and sun...which isn't how it's supposed to work.

Usually what happens is that end of June, it starts...to not be quite as warm. Or rather, it doesn't rain as much. And then July and August are just beautiful, like, virtually clear skies. If it does rain, it's more like a sun shower and the rain tends to be like a little warmer. So the fact that the weather has been so on and off has been really weird.

Armory: So what are we gonna talk about today?

Armory: So a few days ago, and I wrote a note about this...yes, it was on the 24th.

I was down in Seattle proper, waiting by the bus stop, waiting to go home. And then I was on...Fourth and Madison. There's like...I think there's like the YMCA that's along like that same street and then there's like big like Fourth and Madison, fancy looking building, right? And it's a one way road.

Armory: So I was sitting by the bus stop with my, my headphones in like usual.

And then, I see this car pull up on the very end of the street. So, if I'm where the bus stop is, the street's in front of me, and then on the other side there is the sidewalk and the buildings, right?

So there was a car that rolled up slowly all the way to the left. It was like this black car. And then this guy comes out...of...I think it was like the...the back seat? And then goes to pick up something in this trunk. And I was like:

Armory: "Okay, maybe this guy is just like getting an Uber and going to work" or whatever. And that's pretty typical.

And a lot of what happens in-on that street is people like to get dropped off there. They either drop themselves off on the left lane and block the traffic there or they park all the way to the right near where the bus stop is. But sometimes the bus comes and the cars will just park midway through and then the bus honks at them or variety of different things. But anyway, I'm getting sidetracked.

Armory: So, then, he goes in the trunk and he pulls out something, and then..he starts changing!

Armory: Just-just like changing!

And I think he kind of had...like pretty casual clothes, you know, maybe in some circles it would be like...I wouldn't say it would pass as business casual, but it's almost like if 65 percent was passing, he was like at 60.

But the car is just parked on the side there and he's just changing in the middle of the street and, you know, he's like swapping his socks and his shirt and...putting on like a blazer or something. But he is going through the whole motions just in the middle of the street! And this is like afternoon traffic, sun's out, people are walking around everywhere and he's just changing. So I look...and I'm like:

Armory: "Is anyone else noticing this? Like, what's going on here?"

Armory: And then, everyone's just busy, like walking, and it's like a very typical thing and I won't say it's Seattle specifically. I guess it's just the thing with cities on this coast, I guess?

Where if something weird is going on, people ignore [it] instead of like tackling it or they're like genuinely distracted. So I'm just watching this, like:

Armory: "This is absurd! Like, is no one else noticing this?"

Armory: And then I like I turn left and right, you know, people are looking at their phones, walking, like, they're not even paying attention to either at all or they're pretending not to.

Armory: So I'm just watching this unfold, like:

Armory: "OK, is he just like swapping his shoes or something?"

Armory: But he's doing the whole wardrobe just right-at...just right on the street! And this car is still parked there and he's pulling things in and out...you know, he might as well been doing his makeup there, too, like, he was just in the back of the trunk, just getting stuff and swapping his outfit.

So, then, I'm just staring at this guy and all of a sudden I feel a disturbance in the force. Like something felt off. Like even more off than the situation that's happening in front of me.

And then I feel the presence of someone next to me...come up. And it's like this black dude. Maybe like early mid 40s. And he sort of pulls up and like goes like by my ear and he's like:

Black Dude: "Do you, do you see what's going on?!"

Armory: And I'm like:

Armory: "Yeah."

Armory: And he's like:

Black Dude: "Is there....is there a name for this?!".

Armory: And if you don't know, I like to joke that my life is very much...a black comedy/sitcom, no pun intended, because, I find that there are funny moments like this that happen so often...not only like out of the ordinary scenarios like this one, but just like timing and how life likes to mess with me. It's like the most trollish way possible. Like, it can't just happen negatively, right?

Armory: Like, I could imagine a scenario where if I got married and had a wife and she like got in a horrific car accident or something, which would be awful, right? It's like you get like that news on the phone and like, some person's calling you like,

"Some Person": "Hey, your wife just got rushed to hospital. She got in a horrible accident."

Armory: And you can just feel like, the in-your insides, like churning, like, oh my God. Like the love of my life. She's in such a-a horrible situation. She may not make it out. And then I would be on the phone like:

Punished Armory:: "What hit her?"

"Some Person": "Well, it was a clown car".

Punished Armory: "What?! Are you kidding me?!"

"Some Person": "No, uh...it was a clown car. There were going to some kid's party. And one thing led to another, and they t-boned your wife."

Armory: And then in that moment, I would feel like that deep sorrow and pain for like my wife. But then I would feel like a little bit of bitterness and I would just look up ever so slightly to the universe and just be like:

"Punished Armory": "You got me again. It's like it couldn't be...couldn't be...my wife in the hospital. No, it had to be like in the most like troll-ish way possible."

Armory: So, then he continues to like...we start like having a brief conversation about this guy who's still stripping on the street here, changing into like business clothes, and then he's like:

"Black Dude": "Is there a name for that? Like, like this was act happening in front [of us]?"

Armory: It's like and I was like:

Armory": "I don't know, man."

Armory": And then the guy just looks at me. He's like:

"Black Dude": "You see that right there?"

Armory": [laughs]

"Black Dude": That's white privilege right there."1

Armory": And then, I just look again...and it was one of those few instances where I couldn't, I couldn't argue. And then I was like:

Armory": "Yeah!"

Armory": Cause, imagine...I was trying to picture myself like I have let's say this, this super important interview and I had-and I had to rush, I had to call an Uber or ask my mom or whatever. [laughs] I still even know who the person in front was.

But, you know, I'm rushing and taking this Uber or asking my parents for a ride or whatever, and then I'm in such a rush that I'm changing in the middle of the street to go like run in to deal with this thing?

Armory": If I started doing it [changing] out on the street, the cops would be there like so fast!

And the weirdest part is that on that specific intersection tends to be a lot of like police traffic because the...the station isn't too far, so it's very common to see, like, some of the local patrols...and then like the Seattle...uh...Police Department sort of troll through. And it was-it was just nothing.

It was like this weird, like sucked out of reality moment of time I couldn't believe.

Armory": So then...he finishes and then he just walks in the building like nothing happened.

And I don't know what he did. Maybe he got that job opportunity or maybe he got that extra bonus that he was looking for, but...regardless...like I don't know, I couldn't, I couldn't, I couldn't believe it!

And it just sort reminded me about like other transit stories because I'm from New York, right? So whenever that's mentioned and transit gets mentioned to you, it's like:

"Some Person": "Oh, I bet you have like a bunch of like crazy like New York stories."

Armory: And to an extent, I kind of remember some weird things.

But it was mostly like when I was a child and occasionally as a teenager when I went to like the burrows and stuff.

And kind of general things like, okay, you're on the train and some person's like playing music or there's like this homeless person who sort of trolling about like, mumbling or yelling about things.

But, the thing about all of those sort of memories is that...I don't know how to put it. There's-I feel like there is like a difference in like the air. Like, I felt like when I had that experience in New York, everyone was aware of what was happening, but it was more like everyone was making sure that...people around them and, you know, themselves...

Armory: Is that the proper tense? I don't even know. Uh...

Armory: Uh, but they were making sure that they were, and the people around them were, aware and sort of uh...con...scious...there we go, of what's going on.

So even if no one was saying anything per...per say, there was a clear awareness of the situation, whereas ever since I moved out here, I feel like that awareness doesn't exist.

Like...people are unaware about the weird things going on and then when they get sucker punched by it, they pretend to go back to that state of unawareness.

Armory: So we have like that story, right? There is also like this one other... just like this one time there was like this person...for like a few weeks on the bus route I was taking.

And I don't want to like...dump on this person because it-it definitely did seem like something was off about them or they were like disturbed in some way, but, they would get on the bus...and they would be constantly like mumbling to themselves and they had like that gaze where it's like they're looking beyond this plane; like they're not here.

Armory: And then they would find like a spot to sit. And then every like...ten to twelve seconds or so, he would do, and I'm sorry about this, but he would do like a:

Armory: [hacks and spit sound]

Armory: And just spit next to him[self] in some spot that he thought was discreet. But the weirder part about it is that he would keep doing it on the same spot just over and over and over and over.

And every once in awhile, like, he would look around as if he was trying to be stealthy about it, as if no one knew...and then did it.

And, uh, on the...the bus, there's like this in-between area where...it sort of bends to connect the two units. And he...and this one time he was like spitting on the in-between area there...and then another time when the bus was really full and he was forced to stand, he was near like the back doors and he was like spitting like towards that, that corner [near the door].

Armory: So then I...I'm just like staring at this guy, like:

Armory: "Hey, like, what are you doing?"

Armory: But then, of course, I'm looking at like...his face and...what his eyes are doing and things like that and...it was clear that he's just not aware. And...but it was-it was so gross because it wasn't just the spitting...it was like you'd see like this mound getting like bigger and bigger and it was sort of like sliding and rocking around with like the bus.

And you can see like people like freeze up. And then I was trying to do like the:

Armory: "Hey, like what's going on?"

Armory: But I just saw his face. And it's like...he was just gone.

Armory: So that's another one.

Armory: There's another story where...because usually when I go on the bus, I like to be in the middle towards the back because you get kind of the most privacy...in a sense, like people interacting with you, but you don't have to deal with like constant traffic, especially if you're taking the bus like during like rush hour.

Better to just like stay in the middle, like towards the back.

Armory: So this time I was in the back...and...the one thing I hate about the back and it's something that inherently turns me off about how some buses are structured is that I understand that the point of a bus is to fit as many people as possible, comfortably. But, a lot of, like buses have like, uh, sections where...there may be like a row of seats on one side and a row of seats on another [side] kind of like a train, and...it's very...uh...easy, especially when the bus is really full, to make eye contact.

So if you're just trying to look straight ahead, you're going to be "looking eyes" at someone and that inherently is awkward, right? Because the act of...strong eye contact, implies threat. It's just like in our nature, right?

So what usually happens is that people try and get the seats where they don't have to get direct eye contact...and then the rest of them were, you know, and then the rest of them that are left, they just fill accordingly, depending on the size of the bus.

So this particular day I was like it doesn't really matter. Like the bus isn't going to be, like, so full. So I'll just sit wherever.

Armory: So then there was a group of like four1like hopped on the bus. So, first of all, as they were getting on the bus, they were already like out of control. Like, you can tell that like they were turnt. This would have had to been like one in the afternoon, maybe two. And they were really like, turnt on something.

So then they go away to the back. And then people are sort of filling in as like the bus is going along the route, right?

And they're carrying on, swearing up a storm. And then like this girl that was like with the other two or three, pulls out like vodka out of her bag, and then the other two, like, had plastic cups and they were drinking and then just-like screaming out loud their conversation.

And the girl was saying like:

Turnt Woman: "Aw man, like, I took like some mushrooms and I'm taking off!"

Armory: Like, they were going nuts.

Armory: And the bus driver didn't do anything, no one else wanted to do anything, and the guys were clearly already drunk. So in this scenario, I understand why people, you know, were trying to just...leave them alone and just do their thing, right?

But, [the] two dudes were like clearly like drunk and like tatted up to the gills and I could understand-and they were concentrated in the back so most of the rest of the bus could like ignore them.

So then...after a while of that drinking, one of the guys is like:

Turnt Guy 1: "Hey, like, you don't need too much! You're drinking too much!"

Armory: And the other guy's like:

Turnt Guy 2: "No, man! I'm not drunk at all! I haven't been drinking all day."

Armory: And then the girl pours him up her purse vodka. And then he takes like a hit and then he just...barfs all up on the seat.

Like, he coughs up what like he had. And then like a little bit extra comes out.

So the back of the bus is just like...the seats are drenched. And then he drops his cup and then the cup rolls over and like hits my foot and I'm just like:

Armory: "Aw...oh man, this is this is really going down."

Armory: So then the...the woman looks at me and then is trying to like, give like a fist pound? Like:

Turnt Woman: "Hey, like, we're cool?"

Armory: And I'm just like:

Armory: "Nah, like, we're not cool! Like what's going on here?"

Armory: And I don't even know the dynamic between that group because like one of the...one of the guys was like kind of hitting on the girl and she was like:

Turnt Woman: "Naw, I'm in like a, I'm in a relationship."

Armory: Or something like that. But yet, she was giving them like...like her-her purse vodka. And then she was on shrooms, it's like.

I-I don't...I don't even know.

They were just slowly devolving and then eventually they were quiet. But there were just like completely sloshed and like nothing happened and it was so weird.

They're just like so many of these little odd moments...in transit and sort of dealing with this system, and it makes me wonder why...transportation or public transportation is seen as like a lower class system.

Armory: And...not...oh, man, I'm already screwing up the sentence.

Why public transportation in America is seen as like a lower class thing.

Because I've talked to people about it, like public transportation and...uh...things of that nature, and the biggest thing they complain about isn't even like the time, which is personally my biggest complaint.

Especially out here where it's like, I could drive somewhere and it would be maybe 15, 20 minutes, but if I took the equivalent buses, it would be like 40 to an hour.

But, the number one complaint that I here is that:

"Random Person": "I don't want to, like, deal with...other transit people because you never know what happens and I'd rather have the convenience of understanding, like why I'm putting myself into..."

Armory: In their case, their own personal car, and knowing that when they get to A to B mostly fine and that:

"Random Person": "It's in my control".

Armory: Whereas in the buses case, it's completely out of your control.

Armory: And I think that's a fair argument. It's not to say, I think.. cars should be [the] norm. In fact, that's, that annoys me a lot because if I were to say, in an ideal living location, and I kind of had that where I live now...but I want walkability, I want to not, like, think, I want to have restaurants and like a grocery store and all that stuff within walking distance so that way, I go out and walk. In turn, I interact with people...get a little...calories burnt from actually using my legs instead of sitting everywhere.

Armory: And, I'm sorry car people but...driving is slightly more active and just completely sitting like on a bus, but you're still, for the most part, sitting. So...if you're looking to be...a little bit more active, the car isn't helping you that much.

But anyway, that's besides the point.

Armory: So ideally for me, I would love to have, like, to be in a location that has high walkability and if I have to go beyond...I have easy, no brainer, buses and trains and subways or whatever...light rail...to get around and not have to go into my car all the time.

Especially if you think about like the younger crowd or the more working class crowd who...you know, they like to go to clubs, they like to drink and enjoy themselves or whatever. And...to me, it's a lot more comforting if they have an easy, accessible option to go home after doing all that through public transportation than having to...risk...going into a car impaired and causing havoc.

Or even in some cases...even though, you know, things like Uber and Lyft are definitely helpful...even avoiding that scenario, because there have been times and I know it's not all of them, but, you know, there are times where it's like, hey, this impaired person is going into this taxi or an Uber or Lyft, whatever, impaired and then the driver uses that as an opportunity to do nefarious things. Where...

That may be stealing from them...that may be doing some...underhanded things they shouldn't be doing...you know?

I don't think we need to elabortate on what those things are, but, I think that the more accessible...and easier that core transportation is, the more people can enjoy their lives and sort of get around and feel, like, fulfilled, you know.

I think that public transportation sort of goes into infrastructure in the sense that you have to really invest and believe in it for it to work. And if you don't, you're going to see like these half-baked versions of the thing.

Armory: Also, you have to think about transportation...outside of a city. Because one big thing that has...occurred...especially...especially kind of recently...er, we'll make it a little bit more local...is there's been this light rail project in Washington that's supposed to be a lot further along, but just due to circumstance, it's been delayed.

And some of that has to do with certain cities not wanting traffic from other cities. I'm not going to name names, but it should be pretty easy to look up.

And in other cases, it's things or people who feel like, uh, a lot of the additional infrastructure and transportation money is being...given to Seattle and not for them.

So if you're like way east or north or south of Seattle and you're getting this transportation initiative sent to you that's like:

"Transportation Initiative": "Hey, we're gonna bump up transportation!"

Armory: But any time that you either committed or seen what that progress has gone is not where you live, of course you're going to be mad about spending your money on a-something, you're not getting the benefit of. That just makes sense, right?

But then, that kind of ties into the...urban versus...suburban...versus rural dynamics that happen.

Armory: But, even when I used to use the bus when I was going to college, I remember times where...I would leave my home, like I have like let's say an important test that day or I had to get [to] like an early class.

Armory: But, it [the bus] would never show up consistently. And there was this one time where I was like:

Armory: "Alright, I cannot be late today. I'm going to go to this stop like 10 minutes early...and make sure I catch it because I don't know, but if I'm coming too late or I'm too early or what's going on."

Armory: But, it's like, I looked up the time. I was like:

Armory: "I'm going to make sure that I am at there 10 minutes early so that if it comes a little earlier than it's supposed to so I get it."

Armory: And as I'm walking, going back to the original point here about my life being a sitcom, as I am walking to be there 10 minutes early, I see that bus go across and it just keeps going because no one was at that bus stop. So then I think:

Armory: "Oh, maybe that was the one before. Surely the one that's supposed to come at this time is gonna show up, right?"

Armory: And lo and behold, it never did. And the *next * one did. And then, of course, I became late.

And at that point, and especially when college started to ramp up a ton, I was like:

Armory: "I can't, I can't deal with this...with relying on the system because it's not reliable."

Armory: So I decided to get a car and the car is way more reliable [laughs] and consistent than the bus has ever been.

And if you're...and if you're trying to make an argument for people to not use cars as much and to have, like, better transportation infrastructure, you have to make sure that thing is convenient, it's consistent, and that it's on time, because the more excuses that you can give-that you give people not to use the thing, the more they're not going to want to invest into it. Especially if they may not be the recipients of it initially.

Because, of course, when people are doing like transportation...like, initiatives and stuff, they focus on cities because it tends to be the combination of...the...uh, of having the most concentrated money, which sucks, but that's just the way life works, and the most people...per like that square of whatever.

Armory: So those areas tend to be focused on the most, but then if you have like the outskirt areas, they don't get the benefit of it.

Armory: So...I don't know...I'm kind of...I'm kind of [been] going off for a while here, but...come on, man. Let's get transportation up.

And let's get some less awkward bus stories. And there are way more, I'm sure, but I can't remember them right now and this is supposed to be impromptu, when I just have a thought, right?

So, thinking about transportation and bus adventures...and yeah, that's that.

Armory: Uh, how are we looking at time-wise? Let me check here.

Armory: Alright, we did...we're doing pretty good. So, yeah. That's all I got.

Armory: July 27th here. It looks like the sun is trying to escape from the clouds. But...it has a little bit more work to do.

End Music

1 With a very stern face.

2 Pretty sure it was three people total.