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Monday, July 2, 2007

A Pride Story

posted by on July 2 at 11:20 AM

I was gone last week, so I didn’t get a chance to Slog this pride story, which was sent to me by Pasquale Santos. Seems that this is the season for unhappy homo encounters on public buses.

I decided to take the bus downtown to see the parade. This transient guy got on in the free ride zone and when he found out the bus would have to take an alternative route because of the parade he went off on a homophobic tirade.

It went on for minutes and he was seated right behind the bus driver. The driver said nothing. I asked to get off the bus, but the driver said I had to wait for the next stop. I’m not a confrontational person but I confronted the homophobe. I did use strong language, but it was appropriate.

The bus driver sided with the transient telling me that he was entitled to his opinion. Maybe the most upsetting thing was that the driver was homophobic as well. We came to the stop, where I was met by group of protesters waving signs in my face saying that Jesus was coming back to make the “gays” pay. Not sure what it all means, but thanks for listening.

RSS icon Comments


I'm sorry to hear that. That bus driver sounds like a jerk.

Posted by yikes | July 2, 2007 11:33 AM

Does Jesus not understand how the Free Ride Zone works?

Posted by Fnarf | July 2, 2007 11:46 AM

At least when homosexuals smell of urine it's because we have willingly been pissed on, and we typically wash it off before we board a bus.
If you had taken down the bus number you could have filed a complaint with metro. Bus drivers are supposed to have unruly passengers removed.
We need to end the Ride Free Zone. Metro is too important to the regional environment to allow it to be scuttled by bums, addicts and drunks who get on in the ride free zone. The presence of individuals who smell of stale beer, urine and mildew limits ridership, and the city needs to fix the problem.

Posted by kinaidos | July 2, 2007 11:47 AM

Because the driver was enabling this guy's behavior, you should file a complaint about this employee with the county's civil rights office:

Posted by giantladysquirrels | July 2, 2007 11:51 AM

Now I understand why Dan says "Seattle buses suck".

Posted by Providence | July 2, 2007 11:55 AM

The Ride Free Zone isn't just for homeless people, but tourists use it a hell of a lot too. I was one of them (tourists) many years ago, and I though it was fuckin' awesome that I could see everything I wanted downtown and not have to pay to get from one to another.
Also, not all of the people you're complaining about stay downtown. I've seen many of them get off and on at the E3 busway and various spots in Renton and SouthCenter.

Posted by Mike of Renton | July 2, 2007 11:59 AM

@ kinaidos

I totally agree with dropping the Free Bus Zone. I HATE to get on any of the busses that originate from the downtown area anytime of the day. Even when the transients and addicts are off the bus you can still smell it forever. If we are going to get serious about people using Metro as a viable all day alternative to driving getting rid of those people would help a great deal. I know it would not end it completely but it really would help.

Posted by Andrew | July 2, 2007 12:02 PM

Another problem with the Ride-Free Zone is that these smelly drunks get on downtown but often get off outside the ride-free area. They walk right by the fare box and bus driver without even thinking about paying a fare and I've never once seen a driver do anything about it. Just try that wearing business attire, however, and you'll probably get arrested.

Posted by Justy | July 2, 2007 12:04 PM

Oh and I have heard some really nasty homophobic remarks come from several drivers. And yeah, they were drivers who were doing the #60, #49 and the #43. All while on Cap Hill. I called a couple of the complaints in and Metro seemed disinterested in even getting bus route and bus number time and date information from me.

I really doubt the complaint line of Metro does any good.

Posted by Andrew | July 2, 2007 12:15 PM

Oh and I have heard some really nasty homophobic remarks come from several drivers. And yeah, they were drivers who were doing the #60, #49 and the #43. All while on Cap Hill. I called a couple of the complaints in and Metro seemed disinterested in even getting bus route and bus number time and date information from me.

I really doubt the complaint line of Metro does any good.

Posted by Andrew | July 2, 2007 12:16 PM

Re: Jesus was coming back to make the “gays” pay.

Does Jesus take Visa or American Express?

Posted by Original Andrew | July 2, 2007 12:18 PM

Someone should show Jesus the price of a pair of jeans at Ian. The gays are already paying.

Posted by mason | July 2, 2007 12:24 PM

@12 (rim shot)

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | July 2, 2007 12:29 PM

Drivers are trained not to harass people when they don't pay, probably because of potential danger.

That hasn't stopped me from getting yelled at by them, when I got out one stop after the ride free zone because I didn't know, and he didn't announce it.

Maybe they yell at me because I'm not that scary looking.

I think they should expand the ride free zone. Transients are part of being downtown, period. It still beats living in the suburbs.

Posted by Tiz | July 2, 2007 12:30 PM

@3, Fnarf is a genius.

Posted by Sandy | July 2, 2007 12:35 PM

#4 Doesn't work. I complained several times to Metro about a racist bus driver, and if she ever got in trouble it didn't stop her from keeping her jobs and her racist remarks. I guess when the driver is black and and a woman, and her target of abuse is Asian and Latino, then it's OK.

Posted by elswinger | July 2, 2007 12:36 PM

I disagree about killing the Ride Free Zone. It's good for tourism, it's good for getting around downtown - which likely helps Seattleites spend more money at downtown businesses. It's a good thing.

Bums, etc., yeah, that sucks, although I can't say I've ever been unable to get away from something I didn't like. Some kind of Code of Conduct (er, Cleanliness?) might be more in order. You can't make some people Freer than others.

Also, I know Metro drivers work on a Points System - infractions of all sorts cost them points, till they end up in the doghouse. Anyone know the ins and outs?

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | July 2, 2007 12:37 PM

" I though it was fuckin' awesome that I could see everything I wanted downtown and not have to pay to get from one to another. "

I'm sorry, but what the fuck is there to see in downtown Seattle from a bus?

" I HATE to get on any of the busses that originate from the downtown area anytime of the day."

That's about 98% of buses. One of the things that sucks total ass about Metro is there are very few crosstown routes. But on the upside the bus is full of unruly people and smells like piss if you like that sort of thing.

Posted by K X One | July 2, 2007 12:39 PM

"Bums, etc., yeah, that sucks, although I can't say I've ever been unable to get away from something I didn't like. "

Lucky you, I guess you don't ride at a time or on one of the routes that is standing room only.

Posted by K X One | July 2, 2007 12:42 PM

Damn! That sucks that people, be they bus drivers, bus passengers, or Slog commenters, would make rude, dismissive, and/or hateful comments about a group disenfranchised by much of society.

Oh, wait.

Posted by lauren | July 2, 2007 12:50 PM

Ride free sucks. This Seattle resident for one avoids the bus whenever possible because of it - I will willingly pay $12 cab fare to get home rather than endure the highly obnoxious, maloderous and sometimes dangerous drunks, druggies and psychotics that make Metro buses their homes (the 11 is the only route to my house, and it's a lunatic asylum between downtown and 23rd). And yeah, tourism is good for the economy, but in NYC, Paris, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Seoul, etc. I, as a tourist, had to pay to use public transportation. And these systems, both subways and buses, were overall clean, efficient, and pleasant to use. No, making everyone pay for transit doesn't solve all problems, and some lunatics will still pay their fare and cause problems, but Seattle has the worst problem I've seen in the many cities I've been too. And who cares if tourists have to pay for transit? It's time Metro started looking out for those of us who actually live here and have to use their shitty system. And yes, I've lodged this complaint with them a number of times; I'm sure the complaint forms are immediately dropped into a fiery tube ala 1984, to be erased from memory.

Posted by rb | July 2, 2007 12:53 PM

@RB; I feel your pain about the #11, I took it to my dentist a few weeks ago and seriously thought it was a psyco ward at the state hospital.

And for the person who talked about the Code of Conduct to get rid of some of the people on the bus who are clearly drunk/stoned ect. METRO HAS THAT ALREADY!!! The Drivers nearly NEVER enforce it though. I have lived here for 13 years and have ridden metro all the time (no car, just Metro and Flex Car) and I have seen three times when a drunk/stoned unruly piss smelling passenger was kicked off the bus.

Some of the Drivers need to either start doing their job or they need to drop the Free Ride Zone.

Posted by Andrew | July 2, 2007 1:08 PM

Bums must pay for the priveledge of stinking up the bus!

I can see the new evolution already of text on cardboard: Spare some bus fare?

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | July 2, 2007 1:09 PM

Speaking from the experience of the Atlanta transit system, which has no free rides: eliminating Ride Free will not keep transient people off the buses. In Atlanta, they slip in on the back doors of buses, they pick up discarded transfer tickets, or they just wander on and aren't worth the trouble of chasing off. If Ride Free disappears, you'll see maaaaybe a 15% reduction in the number of people perceived to be transient or non-paying, but if I were betting, I'd bet it won't be a big dent--not by a long shot.

(Is transient the right word for the demographic we're discussing? "Homeless" is often a misnomer--and by virtue of being on the bus, they're a population in transit. Right?)

Posted by Christin | July 2, 2007 1:21 PM

@12 Some of us breeder types also have Nice Collective fetishes as well. Damn those comfy manpris! DAMN THEM STRAIGHT TO PRICEY JEAN HELL!

Posted by drew | July 2, 2007 1:26 PM

I would rather have special circulatory buses or street cars that are free down town. The regional buses should have fairs at all times. Paint the free downtown only buses a different color like the waterfront 'streetcar' bus.

And I'll make a deal with the Christians when Jesus gets off his ass and comes down and preforms some miracles for me I'll consider believing until then keep your fairy tales to your self.

Posted by Giffy | July 2, 2007 2:13 PM

Complaints to Metro are useless.
The union will prevent any meaningful driver discipline.

The downside of "Power to the People", once someone has passed probation, they are immune to any sanction for any transgression, short of child pornography.

Posted by old timer | July 2, 2007 2:18 PM

@ Old Timer, I hear you on that one. It is why my feelings on unions are so damn conflicted.

Posted by Andrew | July 2, 2007 2:38 PM

"I'm sorry, but what the fuck is there to see in downtown Seattle from a bus?


It's not what you can see from the bus, but what you can get to using it. Seattle Center, Pike Place Market, and Pioneer Square aren't exactly within walking distance from each other, especially with kids.

Posted by Mike of Renton | July 2, 2007 3:15 PM


You must have had a lot of luck when using NYC's transit. I lived in New York for more than four years and the subway has many times the psychos, freaks, and stinky bums than KC Metro.

Posted by keshmeshi | July 2, 2007 4:03 PM

Unfortunately, public transportation is PUBLIC. So get use to the sounds, and smells, of your fellow man. To quote Bill Hicks, “People Suck”. I personally would rather be water boarded, or have my finger nails yanked out with pliers, than listen to peoples’ conversations on the bus. My best weapon of defense is my i-pod. I listen to it….loudly. As for the smell all I can say is, thank you Jesus for seasonal allergies. Even though he hates fags.

Posted by tapesy | July 2, 2007 4:13 PM

@30: Considering that NYC has 8 million people (21 million in the greater metro area) vs. our 573,000 (3.2 million if you count the surrounding counties, Oly, etc.), I found the NYC subway a lot more pleasant than a ride home on the 11. Sure there were 'freaks and stinky bums', but they were outnumbered by the non-freaky, non-smelly, general public, and you could always move to another car - not to mention the omnipresent police. All I'm asking is to ride the bus home without feeling like I've walked into a stage production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Posted by rb | July 2, 2007 8:46 PM

Hmmm... I was on that bus, and I am totally on Mr. Santos's side, but this is what I saw happen.

Once he heard that they needed to reroute the bus, the homophobe in pajama pants and crutches said, very loudly, "Fucking Homos!" and then had a completely unnecessary conversation with an ugly blonde woman sitting nearby ridiculing homosexuals, as if they didn't realize half the people on the bus were gay or allies and on their way to the parade.

When Mr. Santos was at the front of the bus, the homophobe in pajama pants continued his rant to himself (I don't remember the particulars), and Mr. Santos finally told the "ignorant bigot" to "shut the fuck up." I was glad someone with bigger balls than I spoke up and said what I'd wanted to say.

In defense of the bus driver, after the homophobe in pajama pants said something back, the bus driver told them both to stop. I didn't see it as him being homophobic, but rather that he wanted to stop a potentially loud argument from ensuing on his bus. Sure, it would have been nice if he'd said something when the homophobes were having their discussion, but is that really the bus driver's job? I know they're supposed to drive the bus and keep general order, but I think standing up for social equity and justice is a little bit outside of their purview.

Anyways, the bus did drop us off right where all the protestors were, but it didn't really matter to me. Their small unenthusiastic number was outweighed by all the positive pro-gay energy that all I did was roll my eyes like I do when grandma says she doesn't trust "Japs."

Posted by Andy | July 2, 2007 9:13 PM

I know the ins and outs; I am a metro driver.
Just like every profession, there are dicks within the ranks. STRAIGHT AND GAY. That said:

My life isn't worth your bus fare. Most assaults on drivers result from fare disputes. I have been struck, spat, on and oh the names- without arguing about fare. I am not a police officer, but I wear a uniform. Even just by reading the posts here, one gets the idea that we are there to be belittled or argued with. We are your scapegoats.

If Andy's scenario plays out right; the driver did the right thing. We aren't supposed to pick sides- just get the confrontation off the bus. If a coach is 60ft long, do ya think I know what goes on back there? Better yet, we call for the cops; it holds up the bus- then we are assholes for making everyone late.

As for the transients, they are a HUGE problem on the buses. They are a HUGE problem in Seattle period. The Ride free area contributes, but the do-gooder mentality is the real culprit. Yes Homelessness sucks, but the bus isn't a shelter.
But how many of you complain about it? You have no problem calling in a complaint on a driver, but you tolerate the unsanitary filth bag that sits next to you and begs you for change? Since when has the stranger done an expose on riding the bus and how bad it can be? Metro's PR department is the true gestapo in our big brother. Create some bad press and you would see some changes.

Metro is PUBLIC transportation, it's a team effort. That means you have to make the effort- not just the bus driver.

I am sorry MR Santos had such a bad experience. I think this is a great city, but it only took a handful of assholes to ruin it for him. I wish him a better PRIDE next year

Posted by K | July 2, 2007 11:12 PM

I see nothing in your post to support your charge that the driver was homophobic -- unless you inferred that simply because he didn't get involved. For that I absolutely don't blame him. He could all too easily have been putting himself in danger. He's a driver, not a cop, and to ask him to intervene in this kind of situation, with a clearly irrational person, is unreasonable.

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