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Freak Dodging

By Dave Fox
Seattle 

I’m about to miss my bus.

Missing my bus will not be good. If I miss my bus, I will be late for work. Dozens of people, waiting for me to escort them into the rat-infested tunnels beneath Seattle’s sidewalks, will be without a tour guide. Without me, the people will not be allowed underground. Without us, the rats will have no one to nibble on.

I sprint through my condo, gathering my things. Do I have everything? Not sure, but there’s no time to think about that. I grab my backpack. I’m out my front door, into the hallway.

I pass the elevator and opt for the stairs. They’re usually faster. But I meet my neighbor on the way down.

“That’s so great you’re getting married and moving overseas,” she says. “We’ll miss you.”

Her comments are nice and all, but we had this conversation four days ago.

“Thanks! Gotta run! Going to miss my bus!”

I blow through the door of the building into a drizzly morning. Construction workers have blocked the street with traffic cones. They’ve got a lift truck to reach the third floor of my building where they’re tearing out defective siding.

Their lift truck fits fine in a regular parking spot. I’m not sure why they have to block the entire road, but there’s no time to find out. I hurdle a traffic cone and keep running.

Now a lady in a minivan is driving toward me. She’s waving at me, flailing her arms. I have no idea who this woman is. She rolls down her window and leans over to the passenger side.

“Do you work here?” she asks.

“Do I work where?”

“With these guys. Are you working on the building?”

“Oh. No I don’t.”

“Well they’re blocking the entire street, and they don’t even put a sign at the beginning of the block to warn us!”

I wonder what the big deal is. The beginning of the block is only 30 feet away. “Turn your damn minivan around and deal with it,” I want to say.

“I don’t know,” I tell her instead. “You’ll have to ask them.”

“Yeah but what the hell? This is ridiculous!”

I don’t have time to argue. I wish I had time to argue. I wish I had time to tell this woman, “You know what, lady? Squawking at random strangers for your whiny little inconveniences isn’t nice. I don’t yell at you because a crazed Libyan dictator is killing his citizens, so don’t yell at me because a bunch of guys I’ve never met before are making you drive around the block!”

But there’s no time for that. “Sorry,” I yell as I take off running again. “I’m about to miss my bus!”

I round the corner and tear down the hill. The laptop in my backpack is bouncing behind me. It shoves me forward with each step, threatening to face-plant me in the pavement.

At the bottom of the hill, I see the bus stop. There are people waiting. The bus hasn’t arrived. I’ve made it!

A guy on the street is walking toward me. He’s a scruffy looking guy. He mumbles something I don’t understand. I assume he wants money.

“What was that?” I ask.

He repeats himself, still mumbling. Something about my hat. I look behind me. Has my hat blown off? No. I can feel it on my head.

“Excuse me?”

“Do you want to sell your hat?”

Really dude? You approach strangers on the street and ask to buy the clothes they’re wearing? You want  my purple sequined thong too? Thongs are half price with the purchase of a hat.

But “Ummm, no,” is all I have time for. The bus is arriving.

I hop on board. As we pull away, I’m gripped with worry. Two freaks in two blocks in two minutes… in my relatively benign neighborhood. I’m headed to Pioneer Square, where Seattle’s professional outcasts wander the streets.

It’s going to be a long day.

 

[Photo: Razvan Orendovici]

Published on Friday, April 1, 2011

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