Greg Stump

BUS DRIVERS' UNION

MY DEAR MS. BARNETT: After reading your column [In the Hall, Erica C. Barnett] in the November 8 issue of The Stranger, I wondered why you felt the need to bash ATU Local 587? Looking at the things you thought would improve the system, I can't find one to which they would object. You mention:

1. Getting rid of the ride-free area

Most operators would be more than happy to see it gone and have agitated against it for years. It remains because the county and city want it there and because the Downtown Seattle Association pays Metro to keep it.

2. Beefing up security

Every driver I know is in favor of more security on the bus. It is management that keeps stalling and lowering the level of security. After the death of Mark McLaughlin there were boarding teams of plainclothes officers riding the buses. They were very effective, but Metro stopped using that tactic because they were expensive and effective. They arrested too many people on the bus; this made for bad public relations.

3. Kiosks for tickets

I've yet to see a driver who enjoys collecting fares. It would make them happy if it was a task they no longer had to perform. A proof-of-payment system with fare inspectors would make drivers ecstatic. Most driver assaults stem from fare disputes.

As a former transit operator and current Metro first line supervisor, not to mention member of Local 587, I don't know why you felt the need to attack the union. The union is not the enemy; it is the union who is an agent for the changes you want and Metro management and the county council that stand against those changes.

Michael Gillman

BUS RIDERS' UNION

TO ERICA C. BARNETT: I am the most unusual of bus riders: one who has an alternative. I work at the airport, and can park there for free. But they give me a subsidized bus pass that saves me two tanks of gas a month. I actually don't mind the homeless folks who reek of piss that much. They are professional drunks, who usually just want a warm place to sleep it off. As long as they are not actively vomiting or pissing, I let them be... There but for the grace of God go I.

It's the damned amateurs I can't stand! Your bus was probably 15 minutes late and double-stuffed because someone was drunk and disorderly, or perhaps got into a fight, resulting in the driver stopping the bus, calling the police, and waiting for them to get there and arrest the assholes. I'm pretty nonviolent, but I think anyone who disturbs the peace on a city bus should have the shit kicked out of 'em by everyone whose day they just screwed up.

I also take exception to your claim that the transit union would be opposed to the changes you suggest. Every driver I talk to hates the free-ride zone, for example. I think a riders' union and the Teamsters who represent Metro drivers would work together on a lot of issues.

I am hoping your column piques enough interest that people come together to form a transit union. The Stranger might be the ideal forum for bringing it all together.

Bob Underwood

the literary field

EDITOR: Annie Wagner's critique of Elizabeth: The Golden Age [www.thestranger.com/getout] was pretty useless in nature to begin with, then unnecesarily [sic] vulgar! People searching the internet for Seattle movie reviews have made the mistake of clicking on The Stranger's link for their movie reviews thinking your paper actually has a legitimate, proffessional [sic], talented writer on staff! Her writing is comparable to an unarticulate [sic] child who has just discovered cuss words. Naturally the child as your "so called writer" shove their new words into any sentence whether related or not and certainly not in context! Her use of the word "cunt" was so very unecesary [sic]! What did her gown have to do with anything?? And what's under it certainly does not pertain to the movie or movie review, if you can call it that (I don't!). Your paper will never be taken seriously in the literary field if you continue to have untalented juveniles writing for it!

Charles W.

EAT ME

LINDY WEST: I enjoyed your "Suicide Food" article [Nov 1], and I have a comment. Oranges do want to be eaten. Okay, we don't have evidence plants want anything in a conscious sense, but tasty and nutritious fruits are such because they have been selected over millions of years as enticements to get animals to transport seeds to new and perhaps better places to grow. From the parent plant's point of view, that's the whole purpose of growing fruit. If the fruit doesn't do that job, it's wasted effort; the fruit falls beneath the parent plant, and its offspring die in the shade.

Production of tasty and convenient fruit now serves as enticement to get humans to propagate, transport, and care for the parent plants. These plants are now far more abundant than their wild ancestors were.

Pan