Wednesday, July 3, 2013

To Doug from Guam,

To Doug from Guam,

You were supervising Bank of America in the International District outside when I got off the bus on my first day of work.  I got off to go exploring before meeting some people for coffee and walking down to work together.  I knew that I was on a mission, and that I was a proud person wearing my PLU shirt that read the following:

Lutefisk Lutefisk, Lefse Lefse! We're the mighty Lutes! Yaaaaa sureeee you betcha!

When I walked down the street where you were guarding the bank, I was frightened by your booming voice asking if you could read my shirt.  At first I thought you were a false security man, and that you were standing there as a decoy, secretly hoping to take my bag with all of my valuable stuff in it.  When you introduced yourself as Doug from Guam, I only became confused as I was trying to process why someone would stop me on the street just to read my shirt.  I became even more frightened as you asked where I live and why I was up in Seattle with a shirt.  When I said 'Parkland' you greeted me with a booming laughter that harkened the attention of several people toward our direction. You looked up and said, "I live in Lakewood, but I thought you were from a different country."  We both laughed and you said that you would like it if I stopped by again, and that often when you greet people not many people give you the time of day to even say hello back, let alone converse.  I began to feel sorry for you, Doug from Guam, as you seemed to be a pretty nice person. You said that if we got to know each other better he wanted to introduce me to your family.  You then asked if the school I attend is a religious school.  I replied, "Kind of, but you would never know it." You asked if I was religious, and I replied with, "Yes, but it's been a struggle the past year." You then patted me on the shoulder and said, "We all go through that, but I think God has created a good one here, and we should all be blessed knowing you and His creation."  I was a bit floored by this statement since I had only known you for about ten, fifteen minutes at this point.  I replied with saying that God most certainly blessed Doug from Guam with a wonderful heart and soul.  I looked at my watch and noticed that I needed to go meet my friends for coffee, otherwise I would be late for work.  You hoped that I would return to visit again sometime soon.

I regret that I haven't visited you since, however, when I come back from holiday I hope to visit you again.  Your kindness set the tone of working in Seattle to a positive one, and restores some hope that humanity isn't horribly evil. So, that was really nice too.

Here's to you, Doug from Guam, and I hope to see you again soon.



So this next one is about the workers I've met along my journey this summer.

After Sunday's game, I found myself with some time to kill.  Fortunately, a couple friends agreed to drive down to Seattle and grab some dinner.  This was beneficial for two reasons-- 1) After game traffic of people is INSANE, and there would be no spots on the bus. 2) Pride fest was going on, and there would especially be a low number of spots on the bus.

When it was finally time for me to go home, I had my friends drop me off at my normal bus stop.  I was worried as I noticed that my wait for the bus would be over half an hour, and that I was completely alone. Normally I like being alone, but in Seattle where homeless people lurk around corners, I admit that I was fearful.  And, it's not as though I was in a public setting.  My normal stop is on the edge of the busway, where the traffic is significantly reduced.  Let's say if you screamed no one would hear it unless others happened to be waiting for the bus with you.  So, I quickly sat in the corner of the bus alcove and took out my phone.  I saw some people wandering toward the bus stop and I instantly shuddered as I realized that these people looked a little scary, and they were already threatening each other with coming to blows.  Great. I knew that I needed to just stay where I was and not get involved in anything.  I looked down at the ground as I made up different scenarios. Fortunately, a maintenance truck pulled up and a bunch of beefy looking men hop off with equipment and start working around the truck. What I assumed to be the supervisor walked over to me and started talking to me.  We talked about the Mariners (as I was still in uniform) and eventually about how I'm not from the area and how I got to be where I am today.  It was a very interesting conversation as I started opening up to this construction worker about things in my life.  I told him about how I wanted to be an oncologist, and how I've gone through a lot of cancer around my life.  He shared his own personal stories about cancer with me too, and sooner than I knew it, my bus was rounding the corner.  I looked around to see if the group of suspicious looking people were still around, but no one else was in sight.  The worker said that he thought a woman of my age should always be prepared in Seattle, and that I should go buy some mace or pepper spray in case I ever need it.  I thanked him for the advice, and wished him a good evening.

The next time I ride the bus I will make sure that I have a small can of whatever on my keys.  He was right, and I don't want to ever be confronted in a situation where I'm left defenseless.  I was certainly thankful for the timing of the construction workers that night.  I could only think that someone was watching out for me, and making sure that I was safe when left alone.

Other instances where I have been thankful have been when I've been lost.  I've been lost a few times in Seattle so far, and I've had a few King County Metro workers right there helping me back out.  They are all very polite and helpful, and certainly ensured that I arrived somewhere safely.

Finally I really respect the other working class of people I've met on the bus.  There are some people that work so hard to put food on the table and provide for their families.  It humbles me and makes me determined to work harder.  I know I am blessed to be able to attend a university, and a private one at that.  I couldn't imagine if I had to work two or more jobs just to try to make ends meet every month.  I truly have lots of respect for the men women I see on the buses that look absolutely exhausted, but you know that they have to work these hours to help give their kids a nice life.  To those people I have to say to power on and keep working.  You are the people that make America better, and I congratulate you for your efforts to triumph and power on.  The inspiration that I gather from these people only amounts to some of the strongest determination I've ever felt in my life.  It makes me get to work and want to help people and be a positive person.  If I'm on my way home and I feel this determination, it makes me want to go be productive for the next few hours or not give up on myself like I've desperately felt this entire year.  It gives me hope.

So, to the workers I've met so far, thank you.  To the ones I have not yet met, I look forward to being inspired by your stories, triumphs, and struggles.  I only hope that we can learn more about each other and be an inspiration for the day.

Ode to Transit System

To begin my 100 (ish) days of summer, I thought I would reflect upon public transit as the first part of my journey.

Today, by the way, is day 40 something of summer.  I just finished my first homestand of games.  I loved every second of it, and now I have a week off, in which I decided to come home and spend the holiday with my family.

Anyway, back to the original reason why I was writing this post.  So to get to work I decided that the best way to avoid everything horrendous about Seattle traffic is to take the bus.  I know there's a stigma against taking public transit, but for those that actually know me know that I HATE driving, especially in city traffic.  If I drive somewhere, I'd rather drive out on the open road where I can roll down the windows and let the wind blow through my hair.  There can be something said about me singing loudly in the car as well, but that's beside the point.

So, bus system. I don't normally take the bus anywhere because the transit system is often unpredictable and the "sketchness" of people associated with it is a huge deterrent for me. But, whatever, I'm open to new things, right? I found out that the M's pay for a transit card to get me to and from work, so that's been wonderful because I don't have to worry about parking anywhere, and the bus literally drops me off right where I need to go.  And if I decide I need coffee, I can have the bus drop me off an extra mile away and I can explore in the International district for a little bit and then head to work.  That's assuming that I caught an extra early bus and planned for enough time for me to actually walk down to work from the coffee shop I like.

My experiences with riding the bus have been entertaining, scary, confusing, and often enlightening.  The mix of people that ride the bus really clue into the community of people in the SeaTac area.  People from all walks of life ride these buses, and if you listen carefully, you'll hear the secrets that the bus walls contain from conversations held by people.  One night I was on my way home from a night game, and I was on a very very crowded bus.  Oh, and it was midnight.  Well, most of the riders get off in Tacoma, but I ride all the way down to Lakewood since it's closer to where I live.  I took out my earbuds and realized that there was some kind of drug trade going on behind me.  I caught a whiff of what they were dealing too, and let's just say I became fearful that I could somehow be a witness to what was going on and be used as collateral or whatever. I deduced after that night that I watch too many crime shows and maybe one too many episodes of Breaking Bad.

Other bus rides have been different.  I've met other M's workers, which has been nice.  I had a really pleasant conversation with a dred-locked man on his way up to Seattle.  Sometimes I sit next to other metro workers who will teach me about the area and ask me about my hometown.  My favorite bus ride was when I sat next to a woman from South Africa that didn't understand English.  Somehow I gathered that she was from South Africa, but I didn't really gather that much else.  However, what I learned that day was how to communicate with someone with a very significant language barrier.  There were lots of glances exchanged, hand signs, and even pointing to signs to try to illustrate a point. By the end of our long journey, she held my hand as a form of passing luck and allowed me to pass between her off the bus.  If I ever see this woman again, I know I would love to sit next to her to learn more about her and try to communicate with her. She was a special lady, and her smile was one that could touch anyone's heart.  I wish more people had her spirit and curiosity.  The thing I appreciated most about her was her willingness to be patient, which most people do not have when riding public transit, or at all in life.

A friend of mine recently nicknamed Seattle "Passive Aggress-attle" which is so true.  And the amount of patience people have (as I've noticed the last month) is very small and completely selfish.  It's frustrating.  We can all learn a lesson from the South African woman on the bus.  Kindness, patience, and spirit travel a lot further than frustration, selfishness, and laziness.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Summer Thus Far

Well, I realized I should probably talk a little bit about what I've been DOING with my summer.

A common phrase within the last couple of years in pop culture has been the phrase "#yolo."  This phrase, for those who may not know, means You Only Live Once.  So, carpe diem? I think so.  That's how I personally interpret it.  However, when I think of a phrase that sums up my summer so far, #yolo is actually kind of appropriate.  Maybe that's just my rotted brain spent on listening to Top 40 tunes on the radio, however, there is a reason why I think #yolo and carpe diem are reasonable answers to what my overall summer experience is currently.

First of all, I haven't had a real "summer" in quite some time.  Last year I went on a week long vacation to Hawaii, which was quite lovely and wonderful.  Every other week though was spent working a fairly labor intensive job where I would finish at midnight one night and be expected back before 9 AM the next morning.  It felt like I lived at that job more than I did at home.  When I went back to school last year, I felt more exhausted than when I came home for summer after finals.

So needless to say, when I found out that I had the opportunity to go to Australia for two weeks with our university wind ensemble, I jumped all over it.  Not only had Australia been on the top of my bucket list (yes, a 20 year-old can have a bucket list, it's not a crime), but I was just excited to have a new adventure in my life.  It meant, however, that finding a job for the summer would be sticky.

I applied a few places, but nothing really came up that would allow for me to miss two weeks of summer.  It was frustrating, but understandable that companies couldn't handle someone for two months until school started again.  Oh well.  I had gotten a lead on a job before I left for Australia, however was unable to apply for it until I got back.  So, in the middle of June I came back and applied for a job at the Mariners Merchandise program.  It basically states that I go and sell things to people at the games.  The idea was to find a volunteer program in between working for the M's so I can add the hours to my resume for school.

So, that's my current state of affairs.  I work for the Mariners when they need me, and in the off time, I find things to do that will make myself feel useful. ;)

Next will start to get into some details about how my life has changed so far by my travels and experiences at my new job.


About this Blog


So I am new to the blogging scene, but I decided to give it a try.  I find writing when not graded or used for anything publishable very enjoyable.  This summer is one of the more adventurous ones I've had, so I thought I would try to map out things and people that I've met so I can go back someday and reflect on how my life has changed based on interactions I've had with various things.

As many of you know, I took a trip to Australia this summer, and part of this blog will focus on that. I'll try to include pictures and stories as well.  A lot of the "life-changing" experiences I've had so far occurred during this trip, however, I've encountered many since I've been back in the states as well.

The themes of this blog will probably be pretty loose, I'm a pretty relaxed person when it comes to guidelines and things, so for all intensive purposes, this is more of a journal/lessons I've learned type deal.

Okay? Let's get started! :)