There’s something magical about buses.
The Who once recorded a song about a magic bus, and a famous gang of drug-tripping pranksters rode one. PBS aired a children’s series about a magic school bus, minus the acid trips. And various magicians have stupefied audiences by making buses vanish into thin air.
But now — abracadabra and alakazam! — Pierce Transit has pulled off the greatest feat of bus-related prestidigitation ever seen around these parts.
In a matter of weeks, it made a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall, a 28 percent service cut and a mass layoff of bus drivers disappear. Poof!
Let’s hope CEO Lynne Griffith didn’t have to dabble in black magic or sell any souls to do it.
Of course, the genius of a true magician is creating misdirection: Attract the audience’s eyes over here (“Hey, look at this bright, shiny new trolley!”) and distract them from stuff in the background that might raise skepticism (“Pay no attention, we’re just running our financial models again!”)
Magicians also try to lull spectators into handing over something of value – a wallet, a wristwatch, an extra few tenths of a percent in sales tax. Spectators may resist, however, if they don’t trust the magician will return it when the act is over.
Congratulations, then, go to Pierce Transit for this spellbinding display of hocus-pocus. Forgive us for not grasping which parts of the two-year-long performance are illusion and which are reality.
A magician never reveals his secrets?: In this case, Pierce Transit poobahs did. They credit a four-month turnaround in sales tax revenue.
But the economy is fickle, so it’s a good thing they have a few surprises left in their bag of tricks:
• Approve policy requiring passengers to drive, clean and service the buses.
• Start charging children 7 cents instead of a nickel to ride the Gig Harbor trolley.
• Adopt marketing campaign that promotes cost-cutting moves. (Old PT slogan: “The way to go!” New slogan: “Bald is beautiful and we mean our tires!”)
• Assign summer interns to dig for loose change under every bus seat in the fleet.
• Develop bus engine that runs entirely on hot air and gassy threats of service cuts.
And speaking of overheated gasses: A science writer in Mexico recently tried to determine the most dangerous volcano in North America. The writer, Erik Vance, had assumed it was Popocatepetl, the spewing mountain that’s lately been a pain in the ash for Mexicans.
But after interviewing volcano experts, he changed his tune. The baddest of them all is Mount Rainier, capable of barfing up a lahar at any moment.
“So there you have it,” Vance concludes. “If you like to play it safe and avoid dangerous places and you live in Tacoma, think about relocating to Mexico City. Our volcanoes are more friendly.”
Aye, but your narcoterrorists are not.
Say Wa?: So much for that new identity campaign unveiled this week by the Tacoma Regional Convention + Visitor Bureau: “Fearless Exploration.”
For abdominal bleeding, press 1: St. Joseph Medical Center makes a bold promise in the summer issue of its slick promotional magazine.
There it is on the front page, in big type: “We call because we care.”
Followed by the kicker, in smaller type: “St. Joseph now offers automated follow-up calls.”
The Tacoma hospital pledges to check up on patients using its CipherVoice system within 48 hours of their discharge.
Because as every political constituent knows, nothing says “we care” like a robocall.
And he didn’t even say “aroma:” Agree with it or not, Tacoma’s reputation as America’s gayest city must be getting around. We were given that distinction for 2013 by LGBT standard bearer The Advocate.
Now none other than Calvin Trillin, the longtime scribe for The Nation, name-dropped us in the July 22/29 edition of that venerable magazine.
The latest verse by the so-called “deadline poet” sums up the Supreme Court’s high-profile dismantling of the Defense of Marriage Act:
Those not in catacombs in Roma
Will know the Court has struck down DOMA.
That’s great for gays in, say, Tacoma
Unless they move to Oklahoma.Got news for The Nose? Write to TheNose@thenewstribune.com. Twitter: @thenosetribune