Commuting adventures between Tacoma and Seattle.

Category: Things People Bring

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 .


Spring is Here

The flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, the grass needs mowing, and a whole new crop of bike douches have found their way to the 1502.  String a couple of days of reasonable weather together and the inside of the train turns into an unmanageable snarl of aluminum tubing, chain, rubber, carbon fiber, and a moose knuckle or two.

Certainly, there is room for one more.

Our usual peloton from Team Douche isn’t going to like it.  So many brand new bikes straight off the showroom floor, freshly oiled chain and gears, not a speck of dirt or wear, fancy bike shoes that still smell like Big-5 Sports–immaculate machines in the hands of people who will one day wonder what the hell they were thinking when they bought this thing.

These newcomers have a thing or two to learn about bringing a bike onto the train.  For one, they’re not dressed appropriately.  Rolled up jeans?  Cargo shorts?  Come on, you need sponsors!  Secondly, there isn’t nearly enough discussion about last weekend’s race, the new gearset they’ll use in their hill climb this afternoon, or the angle of the thingie where the forks meet the handlebars.

We’re all familiar with the question: “Do these pants make my butt look big?”  No, the pants don’t make your butt look big, but that bike makes you look like a douche bag.

In Other News

  • Guest Starring Larry Tate
  • Recumbi-douche is back

What’s the deal with women’s shoes these days?  Since when did club-feet become fashionable, and I haven’t seen a women yet who wears those giant leather boots with the buckles, straps and zippers who doesn’t look bow-legged.  The boots in particular are like some kind of Hugo Boss/Nazi uniform throwback.

The More You Spend, The More You Save!!!


It’s not a Pak if it’s not a ValPak.

Loogie Hocking Zombie plopped down next to me this morning, and tore into his mail: junk mail, to be exact.  He was very proud of his ValPak coupons.  While sitting on the edge of The Fonz’s seat and leaning…no…stretching out toward Momma Lovell, he holds each coupon up to The Weebles, as if to entice their inevitable envy while he shows off the treasures in his fat blue envelope.

Muttering not exactly to himself:

“Hmmm.  Car Wash?”

Momma Lovell waves him off.

“Papa Murphy’s?”

Momma Lovell chuckles.

“How about sun tanning?”

“Oh, I’ll take that one,” she says–not for herself but for her granddaughter…yeah, right.

He casually flips through the remaining coupons, then puts them away.  Probably saving the best ones for his pal, The Fonz.


I’ll bet The Hillbilly Bears and The Cosby Kids shop at the same music store.

If you remember the “Hillbilly Bears,” you’ll recall “Pa” and how he spoke.  You couldn’t really understand what he was saying except for a random word here and there:

“Merphl, gibber, sam, sam, PECAN PIE, flibble, perking, sam, sam, marfl, HUNGRY, sam, sam, bootle, jim.”

His boy would always be there to translate:

“So, you say you smell someone’s baking a PECAN PIE, and it sure is making you HUNGRY for your dinner, Pa?”

LHZ sounds just like Pa when he talks, but is slightly more intelligible.  I’ll bet he plays the tree-branch-and-oil-can bass in church on Sundays.

Trust Issues


I think it will be OK. I’ll just be a second.

Señor Botas is back (sans botas), and he has locked his bike to one of the handrails near the door.  When he got on the train, there was an old dude sitting in the spot where the bikes go; I think the old dude works for Sound Transit counting passengers on the train, or something.  Anyway, old dude won’t make way for the bike, so bike gets locked to a hand rail.  Kind of reminds me of this episode of Bert & Ernie.

No sooner than Señor Botas locked up his bike, he heads over to take a seat next to the old dude–right where his bike should be.  Seconds later, the train stops and another regular bike-folk gets on with her bike (she is a-ok, not a douche at all).  She’s probably 20 years old, a little sassy and adorable, and usually wears a lot of pink and white (and a little green) to match her pink and white bike.  She comes right up to the old dude (and Señor Botas, who is now sitting next to the old dude in the place where his bike should be) and says LOUDLY, “This space is for bikes!”

Señor Botas and the old dude reluctantly get up and make way for her to properly stow her bike.  Pretty awesome, except now Señor Botas is standing in front of me, guarding his priceless bike (girl’s bike frame, BTW), still locked to the pole, and bumping his stinky backpack up against my laptop screen.  Old dude proceeds to amble up to The Fonz and me.  “Can I squeeze in here between you two?”


Make way! Precious cargo.

“You can try,” I said.

“I don’t want to mess up your computer there,” he says to me as he makes his final approach.

Queue sound of forklift backing up….and, we have touchdown.  The Fonz is immediately displaced by the old dude’s giant ass.  The Fonz responds with a loud “Jesus Christ!” then gets up and stands for the rest of the trip.  Good times.  Wish you were here.

I See Your Cycle-Douche Outfit and Raise You



What? I’m just commuting to work. Don’t judge me.

You know you’re taking it too far when your douchey biking outfit is indistinguishable from a scuba diver’s wetsuit.  To the trained eye, there are key differences between Team Douche and folks who simply prefer to breath out of a can when they’re on vacation:

  1. Scuba divers don’t have diapers built into their wetsuits.
  2. Scuba divers don’t have a giant skunk stripe of mud streaked up from their butt-crack to their neck.
  3. Scuba divers aren’t covered in corporate sponsorship logos (imagined or genuine).
  4. Scuba divers don’t get on the train “casually” wearing full scuba diving regalia while on their way to work.

I can’t wait for the next guy to get on the train with an oxygen tank, scuba mask, and a Orbea Orca Bronze/Shimano Ultegra Di2.  Everyday is like a cross between show-and-tell and Halloween with these guys.

Rance Almstlong’s New Ride

I need to do a profile on “Team Douche” some day, but for now I’ll just let you in on what what the moose-knuckle crew is up to this morning.

Among the assortment of people who bring their bikes on the train, there is a guy who can only talk LOUDLY about biking, his bike, bike riders, bike trails, bike parts, bike rides, other people he knows who ride bikes, materials made into bikes, stuff that happens to him when he’s riding his bike, famous bike riders, and…oh wait, that’s every one of these guys.


When I’m not hanging naked in my anti-gravity boots, or washing my Porche in a speedo, I’m riding my recumbent bike.

One fellow in particular, Rance Almstlong, is obviously team caption of “Team Douche”.  He has brought no fewer than four different bikes–all very expensive–onto the train at different times, and today he brings his newest addition to the stable.  The douchiest bike you can ride: the recumbent (well maybe a recumbent built for two would be a little douchier).  The recumbent says “hey, look at me” louder than any other bike out there, including the unicycle.  Unfortunately “hey, look at me” is followed with “I’m a smug little douchebag.”

The original recumbent vehicle.

A “normal” bike takes up a lot of room on the train, and this silly “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” of a bike takes up even more space.  It looks like The Cat in The Hat’s cleaning machine (same colors too), but less useful.

Anyway, Rance and his protege marveled at the new ride all the way to Tukwila.  “So comfortable.”  “So ergonomic.”  “So cleverly designed.”  As a humble non-douche, recumbent bikes look like the thing you’d ride if you were trying to quit riding a bike, crash into something, or get hit by a car.  Kind of how Kenny G. is what you listen to if you were trying to quit listening to music.

As Mr. Rogers would sing:

It’s you I like,
It’s not the things you wear,
It’s not the way you do your hair–
But it’s you I like
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you–
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys–
They’re just beside you.

If you really want to impress me, bring one of those giant-wheeled bikes from the 19th century, or maybe a unicycle with whitewalls, red rim, and flames painted on it.  Bonus points for an upholstered flame motif on the seat.