Screw the Seattle Freeze™ or: Making Friends on the Light Rail

I didn’t ride at all today (okay, I rode home after midnite last nite, but I haven’t been on the bike since I last slept). Nonetheless, I’m calling today a win. I’ll tell ya why…

Jack went to Spokane for Easter, and is on spriiing breaaak! – so I left to go meet up at the Tukwila Int’l Blvd Light Rail station. I usually go down to Tacoma to pick him up and bring him back, so it’s nice when we can meet closer. If they’d gotten back before rush hour, I’d’ve headed to Auburn to take the Sounder… but then I would have had a very different day.

I took the 66 downtown. The closest bus to my new place, the 66 is an express and is faster than the 70s when they aren’t using the express lanes. On the way, I saw a guy deploy his Brompton folder bike, & take off. I was jealous to not be doing the same, but it is cool to witness other people’s awe over those things.

On the bus, I did some reading. As I was trying to remember the closest stop to get off, I noticed the guy across from me had a neat pin. “Nice bike pin,” I say, and we start talking. We’re both on the bus as it had threatened to rain (but then of course hadn’t yet). I consider jumping off to get over to the tunnel, but we’ve just introduced each other and Kelly (that’s his name) is talking, so I stay until the next stop. I say goodbye, and he asks where the Light Rail is. “That’s where I’m going,” I say. “I’ll take you.”

We talk as we wait, and it turns out Kelly’s recently changed jobs to the U-District (where I live), and he lives south of Columbia City. The train arrives, and it’s packed. We end up sitting in different seats, and I write for most of the trip. After people get off at Beacon Hill, I look around and we strike back up a conversation. I’m heading to Tukwila to pick up my son, I say. “That’s where I’m going,” he says.

We talk about our interests, the neighborhood, and gentrification. I’d like to write about that, so I give him my card… and get his info. This is the most important aspect: you don’t want to be waiting for someone else to get back to you! Best to get their info up front. Which I totally did! Screw the ole Seattle Freeze™ – I made a friend on the Light Rail!

Plus he’s looking to move closer to work to eliminate the pesky commute. Now, I love matching up needs, and I happen to know some friends with rooms for rent. I’m on it. And we’re here. We say goodbye once again, and he’s off to help a friend move. “The friends that help you move are the friends you have for life” says Kelly. Darn right!

Jack and his step-dad are grabbing a quick burger across the street, so I walk over to meet them. We take our time to catch up, and head back to catch the train. We see one coming from below, but the train is waaay up there and I’m not in a rush. It’s a good thing, too – as I whip out my timer, and the train’s only at the stop for 30 seconds. Besides, I turn around on the escalator… and there’s Kelly!

Now that’s pretty cool. Also cool is a guy with a Bike Friday foldy bike, though he breezes past to the far end of the platform. Not cool is an out-of-service train, which still stops and announces its out-of-service-ness. How rude! Anyways, another train comes quickly, and Kelly says goodbye, heading up to the first car. We jump on the near one, & I’m a bit disappointed that he left us for the one with the foldy bike… I’d have liked to talk to that guy, too!

It’s fun to ride with Jack, though. He’s such a great kid, he wants to stop at the library, but it is getting late. We ride backwards, enjoying the scenery. It’s really fun, and there’s a lot to see. We ride to the last stop, and when we finally jump off… there’s the foldy bike guy! I get into a brief foldy bike comparison convo until his elevator ding!s its arrival.

It feels strange to be on a bus after all this wonderful rail. (In a few short years we can take it all the way home!) Luckily, we have the über-cheerful “Welcome Aboard!” Driver. I’ve had him a few times, and his posi attitude is super infectious. The bus fills with the usual combo of students and the borderline crazy. (“On the spectrum” may be more appropriate). At any rate, there’s much talking amongst friends, and a pug being passed around with profligate licking of faces (by the pug you strange readers, you).

Über-Cheerful Driver kicks it into high gear, shouting out a far-more inclusive list of stops than the automated voice could ever handle, & doing it with humor and aplomb. Finally, we’re at our stop, and I tell him I voted because of drivers like him.

HAVE I MENTIONED TO VOTE FOR BUSES?
VOTE YES ON PROP 1! TODAYS THE LAST DAY!

Anyway, we walk home, discovering the new ped path around the University tunnel station construction. This is a great find! I’d assumed it was blocked off entirely. Some things are much better handled on foot. Now I know, and can take advantage when riding.

So, no riding today, but I connected with the bicycling community. Plus, I traveled realllly far – and got a lot done – in rush hour traffic. Without a car. I’ll stand by that win.

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