That crying girl on the bus



This is a photo taken on a sunny California day exactly two years ago from yesterday.

I wish I could say my family came together that day for a happy reason. It was quite the opposite.

But, I’ll get to that in a little bit.


Last week I was riding the bus to work in the morning, like I do every morning. The bus was crowded for a Friday. Passengers were standing and being packed into the #66 headed to downtown Seattle. Half-way through my ride I noticed someone sniffling loudly. I looked up from my phone and saw a young woman crying.

The reason I was keen to figure out who the sniffler was, was because I wanted to stay as far away as possible and not catch any germs. I already banked in my one cold of the year at the beginning of the month!

She looked to be about my age, maybe a few years younger, or one or two older. I didn’t recognize her as a regular rider. (You know, the same people you see on your bus day in and day out?) But, she caught my attention because as she sniffled, she had streams of tears rolling down her cheeks.

Like I said, the bus was packed so there was a man sitting next to her, and two people directly across from her. I was one “row” behind her but I had direct view of her face because she was seated in that middle “accordion” section of the bus where the seats face inward.

She had her iPhone glued to her ear as whoever was on the other end was breaking the sad news to her. It had to be sad news. Every so often she tried to blot her eyes with her sleeve. She actually wasn’t making too much noise. She wasn’t talking much and when she did talk, it was very soft and mumbled. I couldn’t hear what she had to say.

A part of me wanted to not stare. But, a part of me was also transfixed on this situation.

I started to become very sad.

Not many people cry publicly on a bus.

And, if it was some unreasonable angry situation, you would be yelling back over the phone; not be sitting quietly.

This scenario was all too familiar to me.

I’ve been that crying girl on the bus.

About a month before that quick visit to California — yes, the one where that photo above was taken — I received a call while riding the bus to work.

My dad called to tell me that my uncle had died. He had committed suicide. I felt like I was having one of those moments when life isn’t real. When you are having a nightmare and are just waiting to wake up.

Our beloved family member, who we had no idea was in need of help, had left us.

That sunny beach in California is where we had all gathered for his memorial service.

Feelings of disbelief and shock and deep sadness came rolling back to me as I looked on at this stranger who was crying on the bus. I had to stop starring for fear that I was going to start crying right then and there myself.

And, maybe her situation was nothing.

But, people do not cry over nothing on the bus.

I wanted to walk over and give her a hug, or at the very least a tissue.

Be kind to those around you. Make sure your loved ones truly know that they are loved. Tell others how you feel. If you know of someone in need of help, be there to help and support him or her.

And, if you ever see a girl (or guy) crying on the bus, be nice.



Sometimes, I’m kind of a stalker

Examples of recent stalker-ish tendencies:

1. I once searched someone on Facebook while this person was more-or-less five feet away from me without his/her knowledge. I could have very well asked the third person in the room the “about me” of this person, but I thought it was a solid decision to discreetly research on my phone instead. (Note: The person and I have never formally met and I had just learned of his/her name seconds before conducting the search).

2. I took this photo without their knowledge:

In my defense, I was trying to depict that grown men can wear bear hats (as long as they are accompanying their kid-daughter who is wearing a husky hat — and helping her tie her shoelaces).

3. I took this photo without her knowledge:

(Again,) in my defense, I was trying to demonstrate to the world that working pay phones do exist! Well, unless this woman was just acting like this was a working pay phone, but I’d like to think that she was actually making a 25-cent one-dollar (?) call home to wish her parents a happy St. Patrick’s day. (Side note: there was also a phone book in this phone booth that she was flipping through! I guess there goes the idea that she was calling home … unless she had lost touch with her parents who moved houses).

4. I did this:

In case you are too lazy to click and read the thread (which I don’t blame you —lots of words! — I would skip over too,) I basically saw someone IRL (in real life) who I’ve only known through blogs and Twitter and instead of being a normal person and introduce myself, I questioned her real-life presence on, none other than: Twitter!

I don’t mean to be creepy, but sometimes it just comes across that way.

Oh, did I ever mention my favorite song is The Police’s “Every Breath You Take”?

Houston, we have a problem

Maybe my first sign should have been the Fox News Channel store at the airport.

I had a layover in Houston for a few hours on my way to New Orleans. This would be my first trip ever to The South! It was about 3 p.m. local time and the lunch I had proudly packed so as to save money had been consumed for breakfast on my first flight. (Note to self: next time proudly back both breakfast and lunch). 

So, I was looking for something to eat while waiting for my now-slightly-delayed flight to NOLA.

I found a deli-type area that had pre-made sandwiches and salads among other items. I was eyeing the sandwiches but they came with a $10 price tag! The cost included fries and when I asked one of the workers if I could get the sandwich without fries, the response was “yes, you can but the price will be the same.” Ugh.

I walked around the corner to see what other food options were available. The man who earlier gave me the answer about the sandwiches costing the same with or without fries appeared again and matter-of-factly pointed to the sushi counter and suggested I get that. 

“I’m sure you like sushi,” he said. (Or, something relatively similar to that sentence). 

I was speechless. I was stunned. I was annoyed. I was angry. 

Just because I am Asian doesn’t mean I’ll eat sushi all the time! And at the Houston airport of all places??

I don’t really give a response to this man. Then he continues with, “Are you Chinese?”

Oh my goodness. He needs to stop talking. I’m just hungry and want to buy a sandwich not for 10 dollars!

I sternly say “no” and am ready to walk away but he continues to “poke at my ethnicity.” What are you? Oh, you’re Japanese or Japanese-American? Do you speak Japanese? What generation are you?

Yes, he asked me all of these questions. I was ready to ask him if he wanted my DOB and SS number as well. What was this?? An interrogation? You work at a major airport so surely I must not be the only Asian you have come across!!

“Turns out” this middle-aged white man happened to be one-quarter Japanese. Well, this is what he told me. And, because I believe what people say, I believe that he was. (Though from first appearance, he does not look multi-racial. But, lots of people are multi-racial and you cannot necessarily tell). 

Even though this man was also Asian, I don’t think it makes it right for him to assume I would want to eat sushi or to even ask me what my race is. 

Worst of all, when he rung me up at the cash register, while he punched in the numbers on the keypad, he says he’s going to give me a discount. I’m confused as to what he means by this. Then he adds, “from one Asian to another!” 

He gave me 10 percent off my sandwich for being Asian. 

Something’s not right here. 

And, I’m too tired to elaborate or analyze this awkward interaction any further. 

Besides, it’s dinner time so I better go start cooking some rice for my sushi!

It’s nice to be hated

Last season I discovered  my fan-ship for the Seattle Sounders.

So, obviously I was going to be at the Sounders vs. Timbers match Sunday.

Seated in section 303, we were right next to our dear much hated Portland rivals. (Isn’t it funny how in any other situation, Seattlelites are in love and adore Portlanders … except for in soccer?)

I didn’t let this disrupt my focus, my cheering for my team. Of course I stood the entire game. (With the exception of maybe five minutes during the half).

And when I went to the bathroom during the half, it was mostly filled by Portland fans (refer to my above comment about sitting next to their section). There was a girl decked out in dark green Timbers gear upset and crying in the corner of the restroom. A stadium staff-person was trying to calm her down and speaking very kindly to her. I thought maybe someone tried to pick a fight with her and that was why she was crying? Boy troubles?

Then I saw the throw-up on the floor spanning about 2.5 stalls. This girl couldn’t hold her liquor and couldn’t make it to the toilet!

And, the staff person was washing her scarf and hat in the sink for her!

I had no pity. (OK, because I am a human with a soul, I was like 2 percent sorry for her, but that’s all). She is the enemy.

Of course the Sounders pulled away with the win. The final score was 1-0. You bet I had a few strokes during the nerve-wrecking game. My heart was still pounding as we exited the stadium.

With a more than 65,000 crowd (an all-time record!) it took awhile to make our way out. We passed by the Timbers fans that continued to yell and shout (even though they just lost). They had to wait until all the Sounders fans exited first.

Not only were they yelling and shouting, they were yelling and shouting “FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!”

“It feels good to be hated,” Bryce said after he had locked eyes with some very angry Portland guy who screamed something unintelligible at him.

“I don’t like to be hated for doing nothing,” was my response.

It’s a really strange mentality and feeling to be hated — for really no reason.  (I guess that’s how cults are formed, right?)

Sounders v Timbers 8/25/13

Sounders v Timbers 8/25/13

But, I guess the Sounders beating the Timbers is a pretty good reason.

Running with strangers

It all started with a tweet.

OK, a re-tweet.

I saw that someone I follow on Twitter was recruiting an extra runner for a friend’s team for Hood to Coast.

I tweeted back. I got an email contact. Soon I was part of an email thread of other eager Seattle-area runners willing/wanting/thrilled to join a group of East Coast runners who were lacking half of their relay team.

The race is Aug. 23 and 24 and none of my friends could commit to it. I don’t blame them, it was short notice (not that any of them are not in shape to crank out 13 to 18 miles over the course of 24 hours!)

Ever since I heard about “the mother of all relays” (aka Hood to Coast) last year via Robyn’s exciting recap of it, I knew I would one day do it.

I just didn’t know that the “one day” would be days that are less than two weeks away. The race is nine days from today!

I’m running on a team of complete strangers. Here I am discouraging one of my housemates from subletting her room to a “random off Craigslist” yet I am eager to be in a van with people I have never met before to do a 200-mile relay race from Mt. Hood to Seaside, Ore!

Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

I’ve told my friends countless times that I don’t like strangers nor meeting new people. It’s awkward, you have to talk about yourself — which I don’t always like to do. It’s awkward.

But, I’m pretty confident I will get along with all the people on my team. After all, we all want to be out there pounding the pavement at all hours of the day! So, yes, they may be a little crazy, but it’s the good kind of crazy, right? If anything, it’ll give me some good writing material, right? And, above all, I’ll have fun, right?

They may be strangers now, but I know I will be in good company.

And, suddenly, nothing matters

And, suddenly, nothing matters. Nothing else matters.
I am taken by the emotion — the deep, raw horror and terror — depicted in one frame of a woman on her cellphone. She’s a stranger. But, it hurts to see her pain. I cannot feel her pain. Only she can feel what she is feeling in that moment. But, I feel something.
And, I’m crying. I am sitting at my office desk eating my lunch and tears are forming.
How could this happen? Why did this happen? Who would do this?

I wish I had saved the photo I saw onto my desktop so I could have pasted it here. I know I am good with words but words really cannot describe the emotions portrayed in that Associated Press photo. If you saw any of the photos from that Friday, I am sure you came across it and know which one I am referring to.

Our hearts are beyond heavy, they are broken.

Three years makes a difference

I know that I am guilty of judging people, of judging strangers I have never met or spoken to.

However, there is a difference between judging (in your own head or amongst your friends in private) than judging out loud in public.

Joanna, Danny and I were on the bus home from downtown. We had just spent the evening basking in the carols and creative holiday tunes different caroling groups performed at a yes, caroling contest. Even though I love everything about Christmas and have lived in Seattle all my life, I had never been to the Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition. (Yes, that really is the event name).

It was great. We heard lots of superb singing from high school choir groups to retired semi-professional types. I even saw my old high school drama teacher being a character on the main stage with his neighborhood singing group.

Then, there was the bus ride home. It was very crowded. J, D and I were standing in the back of the bus next to the backdoor. There were two young adults seated near us. One was a guy and the other was a girl. From their appearance and their belongings — a backpack full of clothes and several plastic bags full of other items — it was not difficult to assume that these two were homeless or at least without a permanent home.

They weren’t bothering anyone. The guy was talking slightly loudly to his friend. He even moved his backpack to the floor to make room for another person to sit — which one man did.

The (alleged) sorority girls standing next to us were getting a kick out of these two. They exchanged looks with each other and under their breaths laughed. But, what really did it for me was when they took a photo. They played it off as it just being a picture of them on the bus ride home but it was clear that instead of taking a picture of her two girlfriends with her iPhone, the one girl was just taking a picture of the people behind them. After she snapped it she showed her two (alleged) sorority sisters and they chuckled. (D got a glimpse of the screen and confirmed that indeed they did take a picture of the guy).

The rest of the ride they continued talking about all the “funny” and “interesting” people on the bus and in the U-District they have encountered in the past.

I was so mad. Who are these people? Who does this?

Sure, the guy definitely stood out. Not only was he carrying all his belongings with him in a backpack and plastic bag, he also was wearing fuzzy pink pajama pants, had two braids in his hair fastened by two pink hair ties and had either applied lip gloss or really shiny lip balm.

But, so what.

And yes, maybe I just need to get off my high chair horse and go about my own business. I think the guy was oblivious to the whole getting-a-picture-taken-of-him-and-being-made-fun-of thing, but I still think those girls were being childish. Have they never been on a bus in Seattle before? Have they never had compassion for those who have less than them?

I know what they do have. Instagram.

“That’s going on Instagram,” the girl who snapped the photo with her iPhone said as the three of them laughed.

My friends and I are probably only two to four years older than those girls in college. It’s not like I’m some old woman telling kids to “stop their screaming” and to “get off my lawn.” But, three years can make a difference.