Undriver #5,489: Debby Anger, “Businator”
“I’ve been an Undriver since I was born,” says Debby Anger. She’s never had a driver license, and doesn’t like to drive. “I was raised in San Francisco where there’s an incredible transit system – everyone rides transit. Some people even take a round-trip ferry ride to Tiburon or Sausalito, just to be able to play cards together on the boat.” When she moved to the Northwest in 1987, she started riding METRO.
The thing is, Debby doesn’t just ride the bus – she turns it into a community-on-wheels!
For 15 years, Debby’s daily commute was on the 234, to Seattle Children’s Hospital in Bellevue. The ride was 40 to 60 minutes depending on the traffic – long enough for her to work her magic.
“When you’re on the bus with the same people every day, you end up talking with them,” she says. “I ended up making friends with all the drivers on the route, as well as most of the AM and PM passengers.”
“The bus is the greatest way to meet people,” says Debby. “We started a bowling group from that bus that bowls and has dinner every couple months. And some of the ladies get together on Saturdays to walk, followed by lunch and lots of fun chatter.” Debby loved to sit in the front with Kim and Elin, greeting each person who came on board, saying, “Thank you for riding with us.”
Their favorite driver on the 234 was Vickie Leslie. “Sometimes a bus friend and I would meet after work for a drink, while other 234’s went by – just so we could get on Vickie’s bus!” A few times, their bus broke down – and the “Vickie fans” stayed with her on the bus, until a replacement bus arrived. One night the bus was especially crowded and all the regulars were on. “We were in real rare form,” says Debby. “Everything that came out of us was hysterical! Not only Vickie but all of us were laughing so hard that our stomachs hurt and tears were pouring out of our eyes. Forget trying to listen to anything on your headset or read a book – it just wasn’t going to happen. You either joined in or were a cranky rider (not many of those).”
When Vickie got transferred to another route a few years back, Debby and her fellow riders planned a surprise party for her, on her last day. They boarded the bus with balloons for Vickie and a huge homemade Italian cheesecake for everyone on board!
Vickie’s still a part of the bowling and walking groups, which keep on meeting every couple months – even though many people’s commutes have changed. And Debby keeps on riding, bringing new people into the conversation daily.
Debby now works at the main Children’s Hospital site on Sand Point Way, so her commute is a little different. She rides a vanpool in the morning (“It’s all men from the IT department, plus me – I call it my Manpool”) – and then takes either 2 or 3 buses home. “People say, ‘Three buses, how can you DO that?” She laughs. “I love it – the rides are short, and I know everyone on them.” At one juncture, there are several buses that’ll work for her – “but I always hope it’s the 312 that comes first, because the driver’s really nice.”
No matter what the route, “we really have a lot of fun on the bus,” says Debby. “One time a man riding the 234 missed his stop, he was having such a good time!”
“I’m a bus rider,” says Debby, summing up. “I always have been.” Maybe even more than that? “Hmm,” she says. “Yes, I’m – the Businator. I’m – the social butterfly of the bus. Madame Businator!”