what was that? is that all there is? who is this? this is it.

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trying to keep it together

September 3, 2021

walking around  sometimes

I see a tension under the surface

people are just about ready to explode


--Iggy Pop  “main street eyes”



A few Fridays ago I was riding home on the train trying to read a Rachel Kushner novel when a dude got on at Capitol Hill. He chucked a wad of paper towards me which came to rest just below my bike. There was a lot of loud talking and gesturing.  At first I thought: whatever, another crazy person.  But the loud talking and overly fake exaggerated laughter guffaws continued and I looked up and realized it was the quintessential brogrammer.  He got up and paced back and forth and switched seats several times during the trip all the while cracking jokes to his virtual phone friend. Commenting on the state of public transportation and various stupid brogrammer shit as well as a string of snide comments about Seattle in the context of wherever the fuck he came from. It was as if a series of variables fell into place and created a perfect storm in my mind:


  • bro stayed on the train until Othello
  • bro kept moving around talking LOUDLY
  • it was a new train with lots of room and clear lines of sight so he never disappeared from view or out of earshot
  • it was my Friday and I had a couple beers on the way to the train
  • 18 months of pandemic frustration gurgled below the surface
  • 30 years of Seattle gentrification flashed before my eyes
  • bro embodied everything that’s going wrong with Seattle including a skyrocketing cost of living, pronounced income disparity and a huge influx of entitled brogrammer attitude


As the train approached Columbia City I picked up the wad of paper he chucked when he got on. It was a Whole Foods breakfast receipt, matching his brogrammer lifestyle. (let me remind you how much it takes for me to actually open my mouth and speak to someone) As he moved around again to stand by the door next to me I said, “hey bro, you dropped this” and sort of surprised him. Then he said “no, I’m good” and I said “No bro, it’s all you. Remember your breakfast this morning. Maybe you can tell your friend on the phone about it” then he mumbled some shit and got off the train. 


When I tried to tell my old lady about it later I couldn’t really explain why it got to me so much. Two weeks later I recounted the story to friends and I got angry and red faced all over again, as if the guy was barking on the barstool next to me. Now a month later I’m still trying to figure it out. 


I ride the train every day. Both ways. I’ve seen some shit. Heard some things. Smelled some smells. Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring things and tuning out with thicker skin, so to speak. Maintaining the illusion of personal space on public transportation is essential.  But that bro broke through my delusion. If he chucked down a dental pick I would have shit my pants. 


Of all the variables that fell into place that day, I believe 18+ months of pandemic rollercoaster yo-yo frustration bubbling beneath the surface played the biggest part. Stand by until further notice lock down shut down keep out stay in stay put 50 gallons of hand sanitizer social distance dancing mean muggin mask face sourpuss aftertaste essential worker working vaccination attestation frustration mask up scrub down with two disinfectant wipes mandating mandatory mandate burnout. 


Just trying to keep it together.  



Add Comment

37 said...

Same as when I would politely hand people back their cigarettes that they chucked out of their cars when I caught up to them. "I think you accidentally dropped this." They always took it back.

Posted September 3, 2021 11:47 AM | Reply to this comment

pilder said...

if he chucked a dental pick you'd be the first to hear the story as soon as i finished shitting my pants

Posted September 3, 2021 01:30 PM | Reply to this comment

a friend i know said...

when asked, people say they're ok but they're not ok... ...they're keeping it together

Posted September 3, 2021 06:05 PM | Reply to this comment

Alistair. said...

Sometimes people are just thoughtless dicks and they need to be called on their shit. Seattle seems to be pretty non confrontational, relative to other large cities that I've experienced, especially on the East Coast. I don't think people here are used to anyone speaking up and calling them on their selfish, bad behavior. If the guy that you dealt with really is a brogrammer then he probably doesn't get reprimanded too often, so he really didn't know how to handle your admonishment (which was really pretty mild, and totally justified). Now he can go forth into the world and tell all his brogrammer friends that those UW Cargo Bike really are dicks...

Posted September 3, 2021 08:09 PM | Reply to this comment

Alistair. said...

*Cargo Bike riders

Posted September 3, 2021 08:11 PM | Reply to this comment

heard those guys are dicks said...


Posted September 4, 2021 11:22 AM | Reply to this comment

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