The Marine View Driver: I Was Late for the Protest… Did I Miss Anything?
In which the author writes of inadvertent dialing, traffic, and irony.
by Mike Smith
I dash dialed a friend the other day. A dash dial, in case you were wondering, is like a pocket dial of your smart phone. The only difference is that you had your phone on the dash—instead of in your pocket—and you accidentally dial someone’s number. And consequently they hear all the sounds associated with a squeaky seat, various post-meal sounds and such like… for an eternity. Via their voice mail since they would no doubt hang up once the jig was up. I happened to call a friend who was out camping with his family. He’ll get my message in a week or so.
As my regular reader knows, I drive a bus on a part time basis for Metro. It is my practice, and a strict rule at Metro, that our personal phones are turned off while driving; for obvious reasons. It’s a good, sensible rule.
I often do turn it on, though, between routes when there is enough of a layover to check messages or to let my wife know how the day is going.
Oh… real quick, a layover is a designated area where we wait for the beginning of our scheduled route and our engines must be off. It’s a good time to read a bit, stretch your legs, and perhaps throw out some bread crumbs for the birds, or run like heck to the nearest gas station or public restroom. You get the idea.
So I was on layover. I had turned my phone on to check the usual. A minute or so before I started my engine, I shut down my phone. Or, at least I thought I had. A few minutes into my route I noticed my phone had (ON ITS OWN) called a friend of mine. Because of my emphatic NO! regarding my phone use, I had to simply leave the phone alone till I was no longer moving. I don’t even touch my phone when I am driving. Believe me, driving a bus full of dearly beloveds is no place for even a split second of attention deficit.
Traffic that day was pretty slow. I mean real slow. There was a Mariners game, an accident, and a protest in downtown Seattle. The perfect storm of traffic issues. The Trifecta of hazards. A TRAFFECTA. I mean, it took me 45 minutes to travel from Eastgate on I-90 to Mercer Island. What is that? Three miles? So I was traveling, in the commuter (HOV) lane at just a smidgen over 1 mile per hour. Moss was beginning to grow on my bus. And you know it hasn’t rained much lately!
So meanwhile, my cell phone is recording all of this non-activity with its vociferous commentary for about one hour. I was pretty quiet. As quiet as you would be if you knew you were being recorded. Even though I knew the phone was broadcasting, I did not want to touch it. For anyone with a smart phone, you’ll know how hard this can be. Especially with the incoming pings and dings that accompany emails and inbound texts. It was a monumental exercise in self-control, admittedly mixed with some devious enjoyment on my part as my passengers had some choice things to say about their not-so-friendly neighbors in their cars. If I were of the sort that would do such a thing, I would think about using this information for blackmail purposes. But, as you can see. I didn’t even think of it. Still haven’t. That’s just the kind of guy I am.
Slow non-moving traffic jams do bring out the real nature of a soul. It’s actually kind of cathartic to observe folks “keeping it real” for a change.
The protest, by the way, was a bust. We’re never told what the protests are about from the Metro control center. I wouldn’t be surprised by the way protestors comport themselves, and in the bewildering way they communicate their causes, that anyone actually really does know what the beef is.
My standard assumption, based on what I can understand from the various signs, verbal cues, and appropriate dress is: they are advocating for a longer work week.
I found out later from another driver that the supposed reason for the protest was against violence downtown. Interesting, as the only real violence we see downtown is during protests. And gang fights. Guess who organized this disorganized Manifestation (to use the French term). That’s right, the local gangs.
There is always such a sweet irony in a Seattle protest, always someone with a sign that complains of a problem that does not even exist. But, to make Seattle irony all the more ridiculous, the most violent elements in our society protesting the violence in the city where they themselves do the most damage is beyond ironic. But marijuana being legal in Seattle now, we’re bound to see a lot more of this somatic logic.