If you’ve been on Metro’s Route 358 lately, chances are you were greeted and welcomed by an energetic young man who doesn’t look old enough to hold a driver’s license. Nathan Vass’s buoyant spirit and magnetic personality allow him to connect with his customers and create meaningful encounters not typically found on public transportation.
Nathan has driven buses for King County for six years. He most enjoys the chance it gives him “to talk and spend time with such a wide spectrum of people. I can think of no job that could be more fulfilling.”
These experiences are the inspiration behind his blog, “The View from Nathan’s Bus.” This engaging blog chronicles his adventures as a city bus driver. It is an art form in and of itself and can be found at nathanvass.com.
With a BFA in photography from University of Washington, Nathan’s artistic pursuits include film, design and writing. Among all of his projects he says, “I feel my greatest contribution is being out amongst the people on my bus, doing my best to offer encouragement, empathy and energy.”
I immediately felt at ease when Nathan first approached me and I learned he would be producing the 2013 Real Change Vendor of the Year videos. Nathan is one of those rare individuals in whose presence you feel elevated and inspired to be your authentic self and someone I now consider a friend. Let’s hear more about Nathan.
How long have you been reading Real Change?
Slightly less than five years.
Do you know anyone personally who has been affected by homelessness?
I come from a family that understands what it means to be destitute. So many of my homeless and marginalized friends from the bus possess a level of kindness and resilience which humbles me. It’s an honor to be accepted in their company.
Do you think there is a solution to ending homelessness?
As societies grow in size beyond that of a small village, stratification becomes necessary to maintain order; this leads to unequal divisions of labor and consumption. In such an environment, avoiding marginalization is very difficult. It requires a great amount of empathy and selflessness on the part of everyone. I believe we can do great things together, and I believe we have it in ourselves to organize societies with a greater focus on altruistic thinking. Politically-minded youngsters — surprise us.
If you could invite three people, living or dead, to a dinner party who would they be?
The philosopher-filmmaker Terrence Malick, Danish statistician and “skeptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg, and whoever my future lady friend is! (I can’t leave her out, now can I?)
What is the last book you read?
“The Count of Monte Cristo,” by Alexandre Dumas.
Do you have a favorite motto or inspirational mantra that you live by?
Lose one thing every day. Do what the best version of yourself would do. Hold on to yourself.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
On rare occasions I allow myself to eat sugar.