Goodbye, Hooker Wagon

I briefly had a blog several years ago about my experiences riding the bus to and from work. As I have shared before, I live in a neighborhood directly adjacent to a major road that has a lot of no-tell motels, and thus a lot of seriously sketchy individuals. This means the bus that runs down that road, which goes to downtown Seattle and to my (former) office, has a lot of sketchy individuals riding it. I’ve learned valuable lessons on that bus, such as “Don’t get kicked out of rehab in winter, if you’re living on the street, your heroin could freeze.” And it’s provided a shitload of free entertainment over the years. I often referred to that bus as The Hooker Wagon.

Perhaps the most memorable of my rides, though, came on my last day of work. I went in for a half day of paperwork and I took The Boy with me–first, because school hadn’t started up yet, and second, because it was his last chance to come to work with Mom before she “retired.” So, on the way home, we were riding the bus during midday, rather than during typical commuting hours. This meant that the ratio of commuters to hookers/drug addicts heavily favored the hookers/drug addicts.

The Boy selected a pair of seats for us near the back of the bus. Now, if you have ever ridden a bus with a high ratio of hookers/drug addicts on it, you know that the back is probably an extremely poor choice of seats, unless you want to learn where to score some meth. But, to be fair, that was the only spot on the bus with two open seats together. And, the seats he picked were directly in front of another family, with two kids, so at least he wouldn’t be the only kid learning where to score some meth? So, to the back we went. I immediately pulled out his earphones–the kind that cancel out some noise, thankfully–and an iPad, and plugged him into his electronics for the long ride home.

In the very back, a few seats away from us, sat a woman who was high. Or, I hope she was high, and not just totally inappropriate–she was certainly loud, and used a lot of profanity. At least, she did at first. Then a few stops later, she realized there were kids on the bus, and then she very loudly apologized for using profanity. I smiled at her as if to say “Dude, he has me for a mom, he knows the swears, it’s cool. Also, noise-canceling headphones.”

The next stop, a couple of methadone clinic patrons got on the bus. I know they were methadone clinic patrons because they were discussing their methadone clinic. Now, High Woman was SHOCKED! SHOCKED! that they would discuss drug use in front of The Children, so she did her version of Mrs. Lovejoy and yelled “Hey fuckwads, stop talking about drugs, don’t you fuckers see there are kids on this bus, show some fucking respect!” The Methadone Man and his friend were like “Dude, chill out, we’re just talking about methadone” and High Woman was all “Everybody knows you talkin’ ’bout drugs, show some fucking respect!” She kept using that word “respect.” I don’t think it means what she thinks it means.

Luckily, before keeping it real could go wrong, she got off the bus, and at that same stop, a friend of Methadone Man got on the bus. He seemed like he might have been mildly stoned? (It’s legal here!) He was happy to see Methadone Man and his friend, and the three of them chatted about football for a while–the Seahawks were playing Green Bay the next day, so they were disagreeing in a friendly way about who was going to win. Mildly Stoned Guy turned to me and said, “You know anything about football?” And I said, “Just a little” and he said, “You know what happened with Green Bay last year, right? With that bad call? I think they gonna be hungry.” And I said, “Like we were after that call for the Steelers in the Super Bowl, it made us want it more the next year.” And he turns to his friends and says, “SEE?!?! She gets it! That’s what I’ve been saying this whole bus ride!” And we all laughed.

They talked football a bit more and then Mildly Stoned Guy says, “Hey, are you a prosecutor or a defense lawyer?” And I thought “Wow, do I really look that much like a lawyer? Just as I’m quitting, I finally nailed the look.” And I said, “Neither, actually, I’m an education lawyer. Or I was, today was my last day, I quit.” And he said, “Can I ask why?” And I said, “Yeah, I have cancer.” And they all said how sorry they were, and Methadone Man said, “Hey, I had cancer, in my liver. They found it in the joint. I’ve been well for 10 years now.” I told him that was great, and asked if they gave him good medical care inside, and he said, “Yeah, it was great, actually!”

We chatted some more until it was our stop, and Methadone Man asked me my name, and said he’d be praying for me. I thanked him, and when we got off the bus, The Boy said, “Why did he ask you your name?” And I said, “Because he wanted to pray for me, isn’t that nice?” And The Boy said, “What was his name?” And I said, “How rude of me, I forgot to ask him! Next time we see him, we’ll ask him.”

But, I won’t be riding the Hooker Wagon much anymore, let alone riding it with The Boy. So, Methadone Man, if you’re reading this, I am sorry I forgot to ask you your name, and I hope your cancer stays in remission. Also, I was wrong about Green Bay, they must not have been hungry after all.