Commuting adventures between Tacoma and Seattle.

Wardrobe Malfunction

Remember the Giant Pile of Laundry?  Today, instead of wearing her usual brown velour bell-bottoms, she wore a slinky pink dress with some big flowers printed on it near the bottom.  Not sure it went well with the giant puffy jacket and overstuffed backpack, but we’ll overlook that for the moment.

Train arrives in Seattle and she bolts out the door as usual, taking full advantage of the freedom and mobility afforded to her by her summer attire.  Her gait remains the same–hunched over, lumbering along, clenched fists, fully flexed wrists, and an arm swing reminiscent of bigfoot.  One characteristic that always caught my attention is the way she carries her arms as they swing.  With her fists pointing outward, she only swings her arms forward and never rearward past her hips, and her elbows are somewhat hyperextended as though she’s trying to rub the insides of her forearms together.  With the 30-degree hunch and zombie-like stagger it looks like she’s doing some kind of crude “Mashed Potato” dance all the way up to the stairs.

The climb up the stairs is usually equally elegant, but today was something special.  About a quarter of the way up the stairs–and I shit you not–her underwear falls down to her ankles.  “Plop”.  It didn’t sneak it’s way down; it simply appeared as if from nowhere.  What was already an awkward stair-climbing style had leveled-up with a tripping hazard tangled around her feet.  What does this Giant Pile of Laundry do?  She keeps trucking up the stairs like a boss, that’s what!

She climbs about four more steps and without missing a clumsy beat, she reaches down and starts pulling up her underpants.  Her velocity slows slightly as she struggles to hoist her unmentionables back into place–which is awkward enough when you’re in the privacy of your own home–but how does a lady pull up her drawers without hiking up her dress to do so?  I have no idea, and I’m pretty sure she didn’t either.

Last I saw the Giant Pile of Laundry, I was passing her on the stairs as her pace slowed then stopped as she struggled to wrestle Victoria’s Secret back into place without allowing the hem of her dress to rise more than six-inches.

My advice to you, O’ Giant Pile of Laundry, stick to the velour track pants.


Just, wow.

Briefly coming out of retirement to share this gem with all y’all.

Dude is sitting in my usual spot this morning.  No big deal, I’ll just sit next to him (after he spins around and gets his foot off the seat).  He looks like a 1950’s KGB agent–more middle-aged than me, stocky, short dark hair, meaty face, and a frown.  Looks kind of like Tom Sizemore from Black Hawk down, but he’s wearing slacks and a pressed business shirt.  He’s got his Samsung Galaxy plugged into headphones, only one of which is plugged into his head.  The other is left dangling so I can enjoy the “music” he has to share with me and the other passengers on this cattle car.  Such a thoughtful little Komrad.


World’s Biggest Hoe-Down Fan

The sounds coming out of his headphones: I’ve never heard anything like it in all my life.  Sort of like the anti-Chipmunks.  It’s like he’s listening to 33’s on 45, but the voices aren’t sped up.  Everything is the same tempo–almost exactly–same beat, like that Hee-Haw railroad sounding music.  Boxcar Willie, Roy Clark, and Slim Pickins.  Oddly appropriate for my morning mode of transportation.

It keeps going and going, and I’m all “WTF, I gotta see what he’s listening to.”  I glance over but his thumb is obscuring the screen on his phone.  I can get a glimpse here and there, but not really sure what I’m seeing.  Is it some kind of party?  A wedding?  I can’t tell.  Looks like a bunch of people milling about in a gymnasium somewhere.

He moves his thumb and I can finally see that he’s watching–I shit you not–square dancing videos on Youtube, and he’s got it turned up to 11.  Once he’d exhausted his options on Youtube, he switched over to pure square dancing music on iTunes, and put it on repeat.  It’s relentless and loud.  Same horrible 2-minute “song” over and over again.

square dancilng

The Hoe Down: Crunk for White People.

You know what?  I think he’s actually studying the square dancing videos and “music”, as though he’s studying game films on Monday morning.  He’s tapping his foot, and totally into it.  I’m surprised he’s not taking notes.  I’m starting to think he’s the guy who actually busts out the square dance rhymes at the hoe down.

Deedle-deedle-bom-biddy,tak-a-wa-ka boo.

Biddle-widdle-ma-ka-wa-ka, him-ma-lima-loo.

Whack-a-doo-dee, Fiddle-faddle, lap-a-pack-a-poo.

Diddle-daddle, chubby-middle, Dink-a Link-a moo.

Full-blast, for a solid 60 minutes.  I’d be surprised if you said you didn’t hear it, too.  Is there a square dance competition in town this week?  Some kind of convention?  Is that Buck Owens over by the stairs?  Are there square dancing gangs?  Should we clear the streets of garbage cans and mailboxes in anticipation of the Great Square Dancing Riot of 2014?

I’m literally beside myself in disbelief and what I’m experiencing right now.  This music is SOOOOOO bad, it hurts.  I’m actually experiencing physical pain being near this noise.


OK, gross.

The Scarecrow just told Mamma Lovell that his dad took a part-time job at a funeral parlor after he retired.  Why?  Because he liked looking at the naked dead women they prepared for burial.

That is all.  Have a nice Friday.

You Can Never Go Home

I was driving by my old house on 26th when I spotted some activity in the alley, so I thought I’d stop and peep it out.  It looked like the garage was being dismantled for some reason, so I parked my car in the driveway to have a closer look.  They weren’t so much taking the garage down, as they were clearing it of wood scraps and such which appeared to have come from the house.

This place was built in 1905, and the garage was about as old: dirt floor, and a handy little window for a horse to hang his head outside.  Most of the old wood planks stacked on the floor had already been moved from inside the garage and onto a trailer outside, with the last few being loaded by a backhoe onto a flat-bed trailer.

I was getting back into my truck to leave when I noticed my path was blocked by the backhoe (which was moving up the driveway toward my parked truck).  One of the workers was waving the backhoe in my direction, and I was going to be blocked in.  I got out of my truck and walked up toward the machine and waved him back toward the road.  That’s when the new owner of my old house climbed out of the backhoe and the traffic-directing worker pointed their attention toward me and started walking up the driveway.

I’ll be damned if the worker guy wasn’t The Marionette from the train!  I couldn’t believe it.  Apparently he’s been helping the new owner of my house with some remodeling, and he lived right next door.  How totally crazy!  The two of us, plus the homeowner, struck up a conversation about the house and the neighborhood, and the work they were just finishing up.  Homeowner and The Marionette hugged (kind of weird), and The Marionette climbed into the backhoe and got back to work.

The homeowner was telling me about the stuff he’d been doing to the garage, and how he’d just cleared out the “rooms” in the attic.  Rooms?  What rooms?  There are rooms in the attic?

“Oh yes, you wouldn’t believe how much random crap was up there.  This here,” motioning to the pile on the trailer, “is the last of it.”  I couldn’t believe that I had no idea about the rooms in the attic, and the odd assortment of planks and old windows and such that was up there.  It never occurred to me to go up into the attic while I owned the place.  I’m not a big fan of spiders, bugs, and other unpleasant surprises (like finding a dead cat skeleton, or something gross like that), so I never did go up into the attic.  Let sleeping dogs lay, I say when it comes to creepy dark places.  I don’t recall that I ever even poked my head up in there.

Regardless, it always seemed too small a space to do anything useful up there, so I’m really surprised to hear there were “rooms” up there.  “Mind if I go and take a peek at your work,” I asked.  “Go right ahead.  I’ll be back here finishing loading the trailer.”

I head into the house and climb the stairs to the second floor.  For doing an extensive remodel, the place looked a lot like I had left it when I sold the place in 2000.  I made it to the attic access hole in the ceiling at the top of the stairs, and pushed aside the plywood “door” covering the hole.  The whole time I’m thinking to myself, “there is no way there are rooms up here”.

I poke my head into the space, and it’s kind of dark.  I’m squeezing my shoulders through the access hole–it’s just barely big enough for me to fit in–and I’m peering into the darkness while using my cellphone as a flashlight.  I climb the rest of the way into the attic and am stooped-over looking around in the dim glow of my cell phone.  Janie pokes her head up into the attic space and asks, “Why don’t you just turn on the light?”.  She flicks a switch, and the place lights up like it’s the middle of the day.

The place looks like it had just been cleared out.  I found myself standing (as much as I could stand with such a low ceiling) in a small room painted the same minty green as the wheelhouse of my grandpa’s boat.  There wasn’t anything in this room, but a doorway leading to another room.  I turn back to Janie and say, “c’mon, it’s pretty cool up here!”  As I turn to her I can see there is a window facing the back yard, and I can see the homeowner and The Marionette working together on loading the trailer.

I turn around and start to crawl through the doorway and into the next room.  This next room is really long, nearly the length of the entire house, and there is a window at the other end.  The lights were fluorescent, giving off that crummy fluorescent light, providing the place the weird kind of glow  you see in a really crappy thrift store–bright enough to make you squint, but not bright enough to light anything up adequately.

This room was  painted the same minty green as the “foyer” I originally climbed into, but the paint was pretty old: nicks and dings here and there, and it kind of looked like the panels were painted before they were nailed up against the studs.  The shape of the room was kind of what you’d expect in an attic. Low walls with sloped ceiling terminating in a peak.  The walls were paneled in that crappy masonite board, as were the sloped ceilings.  It was a lot roomier than I’d expected, but I still had to walk around bent over at a 45-degree angle.

About 1/3 of the way down there was a little closet looking “room” jutting out of the right-hand side wall.  As I approached it I could see that it was some kind of storage room.  There were shelves in there, and they were stocked–literally stocked–with neat rows of flour bags, bags of sugar, rice, charcoal briquets (??), pancake mix, and some cans of condensed milk.  There was also a hot-plate and a really small sink in there.


I couldn’t believe this space was up here all these years and I had no clue!  The new homeowner who cleared the place out must have been some kind of survivalist to want to store all those heavy bags of food and BBQ supplies in the attic.  Come to think of it, his shirt was a little too short to cover his belly, so it’s not impossible to imagine a little twinge of anti-government hillbilly in that guy.

So, I continue past the storage room/kitchen wondering who would have built this place out as an apartment in the first place, and who would want to live up here?  I mean, the only access is an access hole in the floor, and you need a ladder to get there?  The thought was pretty ridiculous, but then I thought about how cool that would have been when I was a kid.  Maybe that was it–storage + kids play space?

Just past the storage room, there was a perfectly made bed pushed up against the corner made between the storage room and the wall.  It was covered with old-style sheets and blankets, circa 1975.  Some yellow, some orange, and the top sheet was folded over at the top, as though ready for someone to sleep there tonight.

This was kind of weird, and made me a little sad.  Who is going to sleep up here?  It’s such a depressing space to live in , but a really cool space to explore.  As a kid it would have been incredible!

I’m just about to turn back when I see past the edge of the bed what looks like the top of a small cage, kind of like a dog crate.  And I have the sense that there is something in there.  Is it a cat?  A couple of cats?  Holy crap!  It’s a monkey!

And it’s not just one monkey, but it’s several monkeys!  I get really low to the ground and creep around the corner of the bed and I can’t believe what I’m seeing.  There are seven monkeys in this cage all clinging together like they’re really scared.  One of the monkeys is almost completely white, but the others are colored like a squirrel would be.  The cage door is open, but all of the monkeys are packed in there by their own choosing.

I can’t believe what I’m seeing.  A crate of monkeys–and these aren’t the little organ grinder monkeys, they’re easily 25lbs each–the kind you’d see chilling in one of those hot springs in Japan–huddled together in the attic of my old house, in a room I never knew existed, in the middle of Tacoma, and The Marionette from the train is out in the alley loading a trailer with remodeling debris.

I reach toward the monkeys and they carefully untangle themselves and climb out.  The white monkey turns out to have been covered in flour.  There was a bag of flour in the cage, and he had torn it open and was covered in it from head to toe.  One of the braver monkeys came out and grabbed my hand.  He put my finger in his mouth and as I pulled away he bit down gently, kind of how a dog would if you were playing with it.  I lifted him off the ground and that must have been the signal to the other monkeys that they were free to roam about the cabin, as it were.

Totally weirded-out, I turned to crawl back toward the hole in the floor.  As I passed the storage room/kitchen, I see two of the monkeys in there standing at the counter with a plate of pancakes (short stack), and one of the monkeys is wearing an apron and a chef’s hat, gleefully eating a pancake with his bare hands.  Maybe the white monkey was just hungry, so he was eating the flour?  Clearly, someone made the pancakes and left them there for the monkeys.  Who the hell feeds pancakes to monkeys?

I’m just about to the hole in the floor, and I can see a little doorway in the wall to my left.  Before I leave, I need to see what’s in there.  It’s another little room, paneled in a more rustic 1950’s style cowboy rough-sawn cedar planking, and there are boxes of books, a lamp, tricycle, and a few others kids toys from that era in there.  A yellow bedsheet is laying over the top of most of the stuff.  I also see a very small and narrow staircase leading down and around.

I go down the staircase (monkeys are entertaining themselves at this point), and end up inside a knee-wall behind one of  the closets in the “master” bedroom.  How in Hell did I not know there was a small stair-case leading to the attic?  I turn around and go back up to the attic and it occurs to me that this whole monkey business in the attic has been here for a long time.  I see a small toilet outside the storage room/kitchen, and I start to think about the time when I lived in that house.  There was a time when I was convinced someone was living in the crawlspace below the house, but maybe I was wrong.  Maybe someone was living in the attic the whole time–but with seven pancake-eating monkeys?

I’m standing there thinking to myself, how could anyone get in and out of this attic “apartment” without me knowing for the five years I lived there?  It seems impossible!  I mean, they’d either need to sneak into to my closet, into the space behind the closet, and then up to the attic or they’d need to climb directly into the attic from the access point in the ceiling in the middle of the hallway.  There’s no way this could happen!

I snap out of my bewilderment and notice that one of the monkeys is trying to make his way past me and out into the house at-large.  I manage to shoo him back upstairs, and follow him up there.  I glance out the back window one more time, and I see that there is a platform outside the window and a ramp leading from it down and to the left along the side of the house.  It’s only about 18″ wide, but I can tell it’s been there a long time (how did I not notice this before?).  The wood looks at least 30 years old and it’s built like a gang-plank you’d see leading from a fixed pier to a floating dock.  I climb out the window and follow the ramp down and around the side of the house to a deck (the deck is pretty new, FWIW).

When I step onto the deck, the homeowner is standing there grinning at me.  “What do you think about the attic?”  I’m still in disbelief, and manage to say something like, “Yeah.  Wow.  That’s a hell of a thing!”.

Thinking of it more while I’m standing there with the homeowner (I never did catch his name), I start to put the pieces together.  At this point it dawns on me that the old lady who sold the place to the people who sold me the place never moved out of her home.  She retreated to the attic and moved in with her seven monkeys, pancake makings, charcoal briquets, and small black-and-white TV.  But, why did the new homeowner have no issue with this?

He’s her grandson!  That’s got to be it!  He “remodeled” the attic for grandma so she could tend to her monkeys in the home she grew up in, and he’d live in the main house.  It all made sense now, except the part about The Marionette living next door…and the rooms in the attic…and the monkeys…Then I woke up and had to start getting ready for work.

For a guy who never dreams–or at least never remembers anything more than dumb stuff like letting Janie’s dad borrow my belt–this one was a doozy.

“Ching Chang-a-Ling Dong” Needs to Pee, and Other Scatological References

Scarecrow and Mamma Lovell were at it again this morning (driving is a privilege, women wearing sheets over their heads, sharing driver’s licenses, etc…).  Today he started making embarrassing “sounds” to mimmic the way foreign names sound to him.  He was particularly proud of “Ching Chang-a-Ling Dong” and repeated it about five times.  Mamma added a new dimension to the xenophobia by complaining about people on Welfare, and how they don’t need to take a “pee test” to get “her money”.  A brilliant and insightful woman, Mamma made these cogent points:

  • Anytime there’s money involved, you should need to take a pee test
  • If I have to take a pee test to earn my money at my job, they should have to take a pee test to receive Welfare
  • They’re getting my money, and I’m not giving it to someone who won’t take a pee test.

The Fourth Amendment comes to mind, but I’m not sure Mamma knows what that is (“weren’t they a group of soul singers in the ’60s?”)

As a reminder, Mamma is a diligent, church-going woman who reads her bible every morning, and takes pride in telling everyone how much time she spends at church as an usher and whatnot.  I’m not completely current with my understanding of the various versions of the bible, but I’m guessing Mamma is reading a “New Abridged Version”.  Equal and opposite to the Jefferson Bible (Thomas Jefferson’s attempt to strip away all the witchcraft and nonsense to reveal the “diamonds in the dunghill”–for his own private use, BTW), I imagine the “New Abridged Version” to have stripped out all of the “diamonds” and gerrymandered it’s way toward the purest heap of dung anywhere known to Man.  It makes sense, if you think about it scientifically–conservation of energy, equal and opposite reaction, etc…

Thinking about it a little more, reducing the Bible to a series of anti-Christlike talking points would certainly allow the indignant Righteous a lot more time to watch Fox News every morning.  What a benefit, to skip over the troublesome sections about caring for the sick and the poor and get right to the important stuff: homophobia, anti-semitism, wholesale slaughter of foreigners, and an abundance of smiting.  Oh, the smiting!!  You could finish reading the whole thing before your coffee got cold, then turn your attention to Fox and Friends.  That would be a really handy little tome.  Something you could carry in your jacket pocket right next to your copy of the U.S. Constitution.

I think I just found a new hobby: become the author of The Holy Bible Cliff’s Notes for Sociopathic True Believers.  Early retirement, here I come.

That’s Not Asthma

Giant out of shape woman ran to catch the train and barely made it before we left. She is sitting just over there.

For a moment here, I thought I was going to need to pull the emergency stop lever because she was panting so hard. Sucking plenty of air, that run clearly kicked her ass: a hot sweaty mess with cat faces embroidered on her sweater.

Sitting with her friends now, she is carrying on a conversation and coughing periodically. She apologizes to her friends because of her asthma causing her to cough.

Ok. As a giant out of shape man, I can say with authority, this lady doesn’t have asthma. No inhaler in sight, and no legit asthmatic would be able to such that much air if they were having a bona fide attack, nor would their inhaler stay at home. No, this lady is just out of shape, old, and overweight. As somewhat of an authority in this area, I’ve been there, and like pornography to the Supreme Court, I know fat and out of shape when I see it.  I’ve had that same cough after running for the train as though my life depended on it.

Misrepresenting one’s choice to be tremendously overweight and out of shape as a life-threatening ailment, an ailment that you obviously do not have, is pretty lame. Asthma is pretty horrifying, and nothing to compare with simply being really out of shape. It’s the same when anyone elects to assign their own poor choices to some force outside of one’s control.

Failed high school? I’m sure it has nothing to with all the weed you smoked and homework you neglected. Let’s call that a learning disability. Nevermind people with actual learning disabilities who graduate high school every year.

Buried in credit card debt? Nothing to do with buying every trinket and trifle your heart desires, naturally. No, that’s got to be because someone stole your identity and is running around spending money like a drunken sailor. It has nothing at all to do with the three jet skis in the garage, the Mercedes in the driveway, or the beanie baby collection you just bought of eBay.

Why pick on Asthma Lady?  Because it grinds my gears to see people turning their own crummy habits and decisions into appeals for sympathy. Claiming a die medical condition when one does not exist is pretty scummy when your reason for doing so is to deflect the truth.

Was she seeking sympathy? Probably. Does she believe that she is really asthmatic? Probably not. Does she think she fooled anyone into believing her? Absolutely. Do I want to punch her in the face?  You bet.

Spy vs. Spy

Scarecrow and Momma Lovell went on a rant today about the mobs of people out there who demand to wear their burka (“a black sheet over their head, looking like a ghost”) while being photographed for their driver’s license.  Scarecrow made the point that driving is a privilege–a privilege!!–and if they won’t show their face for a driver’s license photo, they should ride a bike instead.  Scarecrow was concerned that they’d just need one ID they would share among all of them, since you couldn’t see their face.


The Dude abides.

Seems to me like it would be a lot easier to just drive around without a license (these are suspected terrorists, after all), but maybe people who wear burkas are the kinds of terrorists who want to make sure they’re in compliance with all the appropriate traffic laws, and they can’t get insurance without being licensed.  That’s probably the scam going on here.

Momma Lovell, in her true-Christian fashion, followed his lead and they frothed themselves up into some kind of KKK revival meeting. I hadn’t heard that much ignorant hate since I lived in Texas.  It was the black sheets vs. the white sheets in this conversation, and the black sheets were out numbered.

Now, while it does seem absurd to any rational human being to insist on having an ID photo taken while covering one’s face, it’s hardly some kind of epidemic terrorist conspiracy where the DOL is packed full of burka-covered women seeking their driver’s license.  So, go lay down some rat traps in your rat-shit covered basement and eat some oatmeal.


The Scarecrow is used to seeing “5 or 6” rats in his house every year.  In fact, he got so tired of reloading the rat traps that he got traps with plastic cheese (for the plastic rats, I suppose).  He doesn’t mind mice, which begs the question how does he protect the mice from his rat traps.

Everything in his basement is covered in rat droppings, he reports.  Ew.

When the Black Plague breaks out in Tacoma, I have a good idea of where to look for patient zero.

Commuter Haiku

My time has run very short these days, and I’ve necessarily abandoned my Sounder 1502 commuter blog of frustration for a time.  With the new schedule change on the train, I thought I’d mix it up a bit and bring you the same pleasure from my daily pain, but in a more compact and efficient form: the haiku.

(I can’t believe this wasn’t taken yet.)

Commuter Profile: The Painted Lady

So, Janis Joplin’s granddaughter is riding the train these days.  She’s got a bunch of “doodle-quality” tattoos all over her, mostly of birds, flowers, and that kind of thing.  She wears big round, dark sunglasses every day–rain or shine–jeans, very long dark hair, and usually has her feet exposed in some manner (sandals, flip-flops, etc…).

When we’re waiting for the train on the platform, she’s vigorously sucking on some kind of miniature water-vapor hooka.  Not quite as big as a recorder (that flutey thing you played in 5th grade music class), but close…probably trying to quit cigarettes since she works at a hospital.  I’m not sure that puffing 10x as hard on the substitute is going to teach you to quit smoking, but what do I know.  She also is a voracious eater of nicotine gum.  You’d think she was a heroin addict the way she’s always fussing around with these things.

Mostly, she keeps to herself.  I’d bet my house that she’s got a bag of weed in her purse.  Given her outward appearance, it’s kind of surprising that she gets up and hits the train at 5:35am every day with me.  Someone’s gotta bring home the bacon, I guess.  I imagine that she has an unemployed boyfriend who sleeps 16 hours each day interleaved with Budweiser and weed.  When she’s trying to get some sleep so she can get up in the morning, he’s partying with his unemployed friends out in the next room.  She and her boyfriend probably have a pit-bull together, tied to a tree out in the yard who sleeps on a patch of dirt between the broken lawn mower and barbecue…no kids, though.

She seems kind of smart, and kind of dumb at the same time–you know what I mean–like she could have done more with her life, but she’s doing better than everyone she knows.  She took the tough road, and is spending her 20’s figuring out how to turn it around .