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Late Night Journeys

Normally, the last bus out of Ballard, the 'night owl' 44, is pretty empty, at any given point carrying five passengers at most. Three nights ago, the 44 broke down one block after I boarded as its first rider. When it was finally fixed, the driver made good time. I didn't mind, anyway. I had nowhere to be at 2:30 in the morning. If there was anyone waiting for that particular bus, they had given up before we arrived. The trip was just me, silent and absorbed with rereading an Italian comic, and the driver all the way out to the UW campus. Buses almost always feature a few characters on them, some more pleasant than others. These sorts of riders tend to be emphasized on late night rides, as their voices carry through the empty seats, and their gesticulations can be seen from almost any spot on the bus. It was therefore something of a relief and a disappointment at the same time to find myself nearly alone then.

Not so last night. The night owl felt a bit like a travelling cafe. One man wore a black, fuzzy cowboy hat, long, golden locks, a dark brown vest with a yellow sweatshirt sticking out on all sides from underneath. He walked up, past my seat, and back several times before sitting down, only to stand once more to retreive a schedule from the front of the bus. Another, a black man, dressed in army fatigues and a patterned bandana spoke animatedly a the middle aged cat across the isle. Two guys got on at the same stop, one carrying a tattered guitar case held together with duct tape, the man seeming to match his luggage perfectly, the other dressed like a member of Weezer and holding a converted snowboard with wheels. This caught a rather obese black man's attention, whereupon the large fellow launched into a sermon about the dangers of large boards, how the only reason a person might carry one is to attack others with it, and what was he doing on the bus anyway when he had a perfectly good mode of transport there, if that is what it was for. The Weezer member just stared forward, probably as unsure as I was about whether the fat man was joking or not. As the guy with the oversized skateboard got up, he was again treated to a volley from the large black dude. The barage didn't stop until the boarder exited the bus. At that point, the big black man who had been haranging him broke into a fit of giggling. Leaving the bus, half of the riders would walk away with a limp. Three were bow-legged. The man in the fuzzy cowboy hat had a peculiar leen to him, as though he were teetering in between steps but never quite ready to fall over.

The 44 was still pretty packed as I got off the bus myself. Where did all these people come from?


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