Not stepping in to help…

…is sometimes OK

Everyday life has many stories to tell. Alene observed one this weekend on the bus in Seattle.


April 10 saw the beginning of summer operations on the West Seattle route of the King County Water Taxi, which sails from Seacrest Park in West Seattle to Pier 50 Downtown. During the winter months, it runs weekday commuter trips only, but in summer, service is expanded to all-day seven-day operation. On Friday and Saturday evenings, it runs until 11pm — and late-evening service is usually put on for Mariners and Sounders games. There is a free shuttle bus on the West Seattle side to get people to Seacrest park — but it only operates until 7pm — a not-so-well-known piece of the puzzle that must occasionally have tourists scrambling to figure out how to get back downtown on a Friday or Saturday night.

This weekend was the first of the summer, and it usually gets off to a rocky start. I went to Alki Beach to catch my first of three buses involved in getting to Capitol Hill. The stop is serviced by the Water Taxi Shuttle and there were a couple of people waiting and wondering when it would show up. But most of us were waiting for the regular Metro bus #50, and when it arrived, three young people ran across the street to catch it. They boarded ahead of me, with a blonde girl leading the way. There was what looked to be an amusing exchange with the driver which I did not get to hear — but I noticed that none of the group paid a fare and they were briefly a spectacle as they took their seats. The other girl sported a rather large sunhat and the guy could not resist showing off. As I walked by them, the blonde made eye contact with me — and I noticed she was remarkably pretty.

The bus left on time, but I overhead the blonde remark to her friends that she was worried they would not make it to the Water Taxi on time — and I surmised that they had mistaken the bus for the free shuttle. (I wish I had heard the exchange with the driver.)

As soon as the #50 bus leaves Alki Beach, it turns inland — and heads up a long hill. If your destination is a ferry terminal a couple of miles along the shore, you might then get a bit worried. A light bulb immediately went on the blonde’s head and she opened the Water Taxi schedule to study the map.

Now this is when I should have done the right thing and jumped in to help. But I was just too curious to see how things would unfold.

The blonde — and I must insist that she did not strike me as the slightest bit dumb — studied the map some more and then took out her smartphone to look something up. At the top of the hill, the bus turned south towards Alaska Junction — and after a few more blocks, the blonde went to the front of the bus to get a #50 bus schedule. In my mind I cheered her on. She was doing great! Back in her seat, she studied the route map and connected the dots.

“This goes nowhere near the Water Taxi,” she announced, showing the map to her friends. She pulled the cord to request a stop. I could have stepped in here and pointed out that the Water Taxi Shuttle also picks up at Alaska Junction, which by now was just a couple of blocks away. But I stayed quiet.

The group got off the bus, and I was impressed that the blonde did not trouble the driver with questions on the way out. So why did I not step in to help?

First, people invariably do not take my advice on the bus. As soon as I try to help a fellow passenger, someone else chimes in — usually with erroneous or unhelpful information. And the person I am trying to help always goes with the alt-advice. It wastes my time and they get lost anyway!

Second, it was a nice, sunny day and extra time walking and waiting would not be a hardship.

Third, they had already missed the Water Taxi and had plenty of time to get the next one. Also, they did not seem to be in a hurry. None of the group was dressed for the Sakura-Con anime convention and if they were headed for the Black Lives Matter march — well if a march leaves without you, it is not hard to rendezvous with it somewhere.

Fourth, the blonde had already come this far with her problem solving and I had every confidence in a her ability to follow through.

Finally, I suspect the reason so many blondes (and pretty females in general) end up seeming a bit dumb and clueless is that their problem-solving skills never get a chance to develop — because there is always a well-meaning person (usually a man) to step in and help before the poor girl gets a chance to solve a problem all by herself.

So I decided it was best to let her have at it. And between the paper schedules and her smartphone, I am sure she figured it out. Her friends are lucky to have her doing the thinking for the group — otherwise they might have ended up at Othello Station — and at the Link Light Rail instead of the Water Taxi.