Thu 10 Mar 2005
Yesterday Seattle kicked my ass. Of course, it wasn’t planned. I had everything all laid out, complete with a home-made bus itinerary with times and bus numbers mapped out to the finest detail. Of course, I set myself up for failure.
My goal was to visit both dancewear stores within the Seattle city limits. The first store was up in my old stomping grounds, the U District. I caught the number 48 along with some rebellious, skipping class, teens from Garfield High School. I arrived on 50th and realized just how bad the old neighborhood looked. Meth addicts littered the streets, I’m not kidding; They were all over the food bank, the church, and the bus stops. Really unattractive, talentless, graffiti dotted the buildings. I can’t believe I lived here for five years! (And what a difference five years has made). I decided, even before I walked into the dance store, that I didn’t want to work in the U District. That chapter of my life is so huge and vast and crazy, going back there every day would just be weird. The store was a mess, ugly and dark. Different colored hangers poked all different ways, there was no shoe section, merchandise from two seasons ago hung meekly next to newer fashions. The store clerk was unhelpful; the owner informed me that all her employees were students…
I tried to look up an old friend at Sureshot cafe, only to find out that she has sold the cafe and moved to New York. I noticed all the store fronts had signs on their doors: “No public restroom,” “No loitering,” “If you carry a backpack large enough to fit a small cat, you can’t come in.” I couldn’t wait to leave; I arrived on time and on schedule to pick up a bus to Freemont. This was when I first experienced a stinky, alcohol-breathing, old dude sitting in my comfort space.
The Freemont store, in contrast, was beautiful. I spoke with the manager for a long time, only to slowly realize that I had to be careful because she had little product knowledge. The store had only recently started carrying pointe shoes, they didn’t carry Capezio (the oldest dancewear brand known to man), and she didn’t teach or dance herself. I felt a slow despair. Here I am, with this very specific retail knowledge, wallowing in this beautiful store. I felt like I belonged in this store…it sucked having to leave and know that there was no position open and despite my offer to do a pointe shoe lab she probably wouldn’t call me. Managers are typically suspicious of other managers in this biz, it’s that small of an industry.
This was when I got lost trying to find a random dance studio. I fell behind, timewise, underestimating how long my dance store schmooze would take. I thought if I walked down this large hill I would be able to catch the number 5 and continue my diligent plan. While walking down said hill I witnessed this classic scene: Drunk/high prostitute in her 50s dressed like Britney Spears staggering down the street while a low rider vehicle slowly trailed her and the dialogue goes like this: “Get in the car. ” “No, I don’t want to get in the car!” “Come on, just get in the car!” “No, I told you I don’t want to go anywhere! I don’t want to go with you!” 15 minutes later I opted against waiting at the bustop on the hill with this woman…call it a strange intuition, but I just couldn’t handle sitting and waiting with this lady. I continued down the hill and got lost. I was in Freemont, I knew I could find a bus somewhere, but my schedule was all thrown. I didn’t know which bus numbers were which, I was out of my game, itâ€™s been five years. The baristas at Peet’s were useless, none of them knew which bus could take me downtown. I finally guessed and ended up on the #28. I sat between a little wiry man who kept his arm around the back of my seat the entire time (so it looked like we were some sort of couple), and yet another drunk/high fellow who alternated playing a guitar and a zither. I’m not making this up. He plucked and sang his way through several dreary songs and after asking everyone around him if they had any marijuana he loudly protested: “Why can’t we all get along anymore? The world would be a much better place if people just got along!” I moved. I debated, briefly, about how that might look but realized I didn’t care. The bus was starting to clear, and there was no reason for me to remain looking like a back up singer with a drunken musician on one side and a faux bf on the other side.
I felt like taking a shower when I finally got off the bus. To get home I needed a number 3 and I managed to find where to pick one up. I was in Belltown, filled with new fancy condos and fresh paint despite co-existing with hobos and drug dealers. I swear, I saw a deal go down at the bus stop. A police car slowly pulled up and remained parked nearby, an ominous warning to us all. I made a mental note to never, ever, take the number 4–the clientele was terrifying. The number 2 came and left and I realized, suddenly, that I could have taken that bus…but it would have meant walking a few blocks and I had developed blisters from my journey. I waited, miserably, while watching a puppy play in the once-hobo-sleeping-grounds now dog park that has sprouted up since I left.
After consulting the schedule, I realized the number 3 came at 2:15 and 4:15. Of course it was 3:15, I have no idea why the bus skipped an hour. I almost cried. I staggered over to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and wandered around the aisle looking at all the stuff I couldn’t afford. I ended up going back to the bus stop and standing in front of it for a good 15 minutes. I should have broken down and bought some sushi at the place right by the stop. It would have made me feel better.
The number 3 finally came. I sat there for a full 10 minutes before I realized I was surrounded by former convicts. The number 3 stops right in front of the county jail, the courthouse, and the juvenile detention center all in succession. The bus driver was unusually chatty; she said: “Next stop is the jail, gentlemen, they have a new menu for you to try.” She was rewarded with many hearty, “ho ho’s.” By this time I was feeling hot and carsick and angrily thinking: “This just isn’t worth it. I hate the bus. I’m never taking it again. Josh better get ready cuz’ I want the car.” It wasn’t specifically the criminals, I was just burnt out. I think the zither-playing crackhead did me in on the number 28 and I just couldn’t get back to feeling right and good about humanity.
Today I scaled back, I just took one bus to Capitol Hill and that was it. Still don’t have a job. This week was Dream Job week, next week is Temp Service Week. Despite all this, it’s good to be back in the city.