tractor trailer auto-carrier story

I’d like to apologize for the saccharine preciousness of the last post and I’m afraid there’s a bit more of the same with this one, which will start off with a brief bird anecdote that has nothing to do with anything, while later a rather abrupt segue takes us across the city via train and bus (you can skip to the very last paragraph via bullet train for a less tedious denouement). Ugh. Please believe me when I say I’ll be scaling back my blabbermouth for awhile and focusing more on sharing some of my favorite images so if you could please bear with me as I make the necessary adjustments (I’m thinking of changing the site’s design to make it a little more photography-friendly). And truth be told I’m not as long-winded as you might imagine- the reality is that what follows represents a composite of several days (Sunday to Sunday) of what was on my mind and so I digress. She’s back. And has commenced her tapping on the side of the house a few hands from the upstairs bedroom window. For the past three or four years, the little missy has spent more sunny mornings than I can count furthering her excavations on the splintery hole. Shes a dainty black-capped chickadee who returns every Spring (they’re nonmigratory but when it gets cold and dark for a few months the ones in our neighborhood seem to hang out elsewhere, maybe down in the Arboretum). To their delight, the boys spotted her a few days ago as we departed for school and just for a moment I wondered if maybe this year we might have another new neighbor because she half-disappeared into the tiny cavity but then flitted out as quickly. A couple years ago a mother robin tried to take our front porch by eminent domain and we obliged her by using the back door as often as possible but she finally moved out, long-time readers will recall it was dispiriting as we discovered she had deserted a clutch of eggs. At any rate, one of my photography goals in the coming few weeks will be to capture our black-capped chickadee friend in the act. My tools are somewhat limited for capturing tiny little birds but I’m going to do my best!

And speaking of birdies, I’ve really been wanting to share a monochrome of Feature Show Falls. This particular image in color was awfully pretty but I liked how it looked edited for black and white. The handful of exposures I shot along the Boulder River this day are oddly enjoyable to me in that you can hardly tell upstream from downstream through tilted, jumbled rock. Or can you? Probably it’s just me. At any rate, perhaps I should’ve gotten a little lower here for such a wide angle but I staked claim to some decently non-slippery rocks in the river and I wasn’t taking any more chances moving around.

I had a dream last night I was shooting someplace ethereally gorgeous in mountainous countryside, like Iceland or the British Rockies and Oliver Fern was with me. I was shooting at sunset in forest a few hundred feet above a lake but found myself stymied by the lack of a graduated filter (a real-life scenario) and furthermore it dawned on me Oliver had wandered off so I plunge-stepped down the mountainside (causing a lot of erosion in terrain which resembled the less-steep sides of Tyler Peak in the Olympic Mountain range) to return to him when an enormous marmot should emerge across my path. But wait a minute, for it turned out to be only a sluggish Tapir. Talk about a disappointment. A Tapir? Possibly the most dull creature in the entire Woodland Park Zoo, the kind of place I already find to be generally dull by itself. Meanwhile, in real life the night before last, I went to tuck Adam in for the night and found him reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring and noticed he was wearing headphones which were blasting the score (as performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra) for the film adaptation. I explained to him he should probably keep the two mediums separate. But then again, this is the same boy who’s zooming along on fractions at the moment.

While Adam kicked off springtime play in his soccer league on Sunday afternoon last weekend, Oliver Fern and I rode the train across the city all the way to the airport (he was like a three year old Paul Theroux so I was just going with the flow). Upon arrival at each station, a computer-generated voice announced the name of the stop and it always sounded to me like “Now arriving in Little Italy.…..” but Seattle doesn’t even have a Little Italy (but we’ve got a Garlic Gulch). Later on that evening we took the boys to Seattle’s probably biggest underutilized park (they don’t bother turning on the elaborate sculpture fountain anymore), no one ever visits except us but on this night a haggard, barefoot guy wearing a two piece suit under his unzipped red hoodie was battling himself along with several menacing demons so we detoured to another park, the boys’ longtime consensus favorite which unfortunately has been caught in the cross-hairs of gang-related gunfire the past couple years so this was our first time back in a little while. All was generally fine except for the extremely blotto mother at the barbecue on the other side of the playground (her feisty toddler was over by us, terrorizing other children on the playground with a barrage of dusty woodchip-throwing that degenerated into a Monty Python-like whodunnit bar-fight in which everyone turned on each other) who was unleashing one of the more impressive, wide-ranging series of f-bombs I’ve heard in awhile. Despite the creatively-phrased “fucks” and “motherfuckers” which I’m guessing must have run into the hundreds (i lost count) and enough Rainier Beer empties to fill a recycling truck, I suppose it was a pleasant enough visit, the boys seemed unfazed. The would-be mascot of the barbecue, a brindle-coated pit bull, had clearly received its full of the charming lady and was taking its frustration out on an innocent, unwitting collie who happened to be passing through the park. Adam looked to us to make sure everything was good and we rolled our eyes and he rolled ’em back in agreement.

On my way into downtown a few mornings ago aboard the 11 (personal errands, a brief research assignment at the library along with the picking-up of a hold) I observed a skinny man in bunched-up white briefs on the soccer field at Cal Anderson Park. He was a stark contrast against the pristine green of artificial turf and tidy formation of a half dozen dark-uniformed police officers who surrounded him and were advancing closer in eerily, by-the-book fashion. The last thing I saw as we continued toward Broadway was the poor fellow lowering to his knees in a crumpled, repentant pile and it was one of those things that fit squarely into the category of “did I really just see that?” I choked back the lump in my throat and thought about a few months ago when Oliver and I were on our way home from school, we stopped our bike to check on a young man sprawled out face-down in the junction of the street and alleyway by Seven Hills Park- a bad spot to lay on account of it being garbage day not to mention he was prostrate alongside a row of dumpsters.  Several entreaties as to the status of his well-being went unheeded, as well as several requests of passerbys for a little help- just to call 911 and perhaps wait until professionals arrived as I had my hands somewhat tied with a three year old on the back of a bike in the cold, drizzly rain. A handful of pedestrians regarded us as the typical gullible, idealistic Seattleites and hurried upon their merry way. Finally, I flagged down a nurse from the nearby hospital, we were lucky she was on a smoke break and her nicotine had kicked in. I’m not as naive as you’re thinking- I know Seattle Mental Health is a couple blocks away along with a handful of group homes and God knows I’ve observed plenty of quiet souls hanging out alone at Seven Hills, bloated from psychotropic cocktails and sitting on a bench to soak sunshine while they struggle to roll a cigarette. One of that guy’s housemates probably neglected their chores for the week, is all. Still, the unkindness of strangers that day was so wearisome as to stick with me like Velcro all winter long. Too many “did I really just see thats?“, this winter.

At any rate, late morning of that ride into downtown aboard the 11 found me en route to the Central Library wincing in horror at the tractor trailer auto-carrier run ghastly aground at the intersection of Spring Street and Fourth Avenue. Crowds of pedestrians on their sunny day lunch hour gathered ’round and watched with anticipation as a cadre of traffic police problem-solved with the Colorado truck driver, a skinny kid with a handsome angular face, tidy cornrows and sweatpants that hung off his ass. I never saw his expression change despite chortling onlookers and a couple mildly testy cops- he worked methodically to unload the trailer of three vehicles (at an impossible downhill angle that left everyone shaking their heads) that were serving as unwanted ballast at the moment. A muscular Metro tractor trailer wrecker, the kind you see towing city buses, finally arrived to back up to the auto-carrier and give the grounded trailer a vertical boost with its tow dolly. I was relieved to be on my way. Following an hour-long session of research in the library I came out and found the auto-carrier a half block down the street in front of the W Hotel, the young driver was tightening down various chains and straps. All the hullabaloo had died down by this time and seeing the poor kid by himself was like hearing my own heartbeat and I felt an enormous burden unlifted as if the tractor trailer was in fact my own rig. I don’t know what possessed me because I’m not exactly a teddy bear when it comes to long haul truck drivers but I couldn’t help it and gave him a pat on the back while he was crouched down tugging on some chains and explained that we all have days like this but he just laughed in return like someone who had a hellish fuck of a morning and stood up and reached for my hand like I was the one who got my truck stuck near the top of the hill, taking it with both of his and he flashed a million dollar smile and thanked me and told me not to worry because “I have a lotta livin’ left, man!” Walking away, I glanced down and saw my hand was smeared a little bit with sweat and grime from the thousand-something highway miles between Denver and Seattle (and Spring and Fourth Avenue). I left it on for the bus ride home, it was the messiness of a most humane encounter and I kept thinking to myself how that kid was probably far wiser than I could imagine, there was just something about how he laughed with me. I wished that I knew his name so we could be pen pals. That was just how I was feeling that day.

So as I was saying, this is the less tedious denouement of tonight’s writing. Well, to be completely honest I added this little part a few nights ago after Adam and Oliver Fern fell asleep. Their mother was out of town and I was tired as heck because I’d taken Adam to Emerald City Comicon all day and so I ran outta juice and decided I’d think of something funny or clever, later on.  Don’t really have anything, though.

One thought on “tractor trailer auto-carrier story

  1. I keep hearing Stevie singing Just Enough For the City in my head. I’m glad for the last paragraph as I was beginning to feel sad about the state of the City. Living here in the toolies is different. A lot less adrenaline and a lot less excitement. But it is exhilarating to have an encounter with a stranger that makes you feel that good and wish you knew them well. Nice post TF.

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