My Out of Vogue Values

May 10, 2010

I took the #13 Bus this afternoon up to the top of Queen Anne Hill again to use the Q. A. Library Branch’s computers. Along the way — the next stop, in fact — a pair of homeless men importuned the driver to let them on even though they didn’t have the money. Later, they claimed, they’d have enough for a fare and would pay on their way back down. Sort of a ride now, pay much later scheme. Amazingly, the driver let them on.   

I was at the library for an hour and a half doing research on Corvallis and Oregon State University, which is located there. When finished, I always like to walk back to my hotel rather than taking a bus. The neighborhood up atop the hill is quite picturesque and there’s a place along the way (Kerry Park) that has a panoramic view of the city and Elliot Bay. In the background on clear days one can see majestic Mt. Rainier. But when I arrived today, those same homeless fellows from the bus ride were there, playing an iPod at full volume. (And how they can afford one of those but not the bus fare is a mystery to me.) One of them also struck up a loud conversation with a couple sitting nearby. Because the park is really no more than a narrow strip, it was impossible to ignore the music and the bantering. Standing as far away as I could, I attempted to enjoy the view, but gave up after a few minutes.  

Later on, crossing busy Mercer Street, I encountered another Seattle unpleasantry as a cyclist zoomed by in front of me. I was startled since I had the green light.

In none of these situations did I say anything. It’s become clear that if I try to argue my values in this fine city — paying when riding the bus; not playing loud music in public places; not recklessly running red lights — I could end up spending entire afternoons caught up in a series of quarrels, if not fisticuffs, from which at my age (early fifties) I would not emerge victorious.

At least I’m not upset. Two months ago, a series of encounters like these would have left me stewing. But now, with the discovery of new places to relocate to, I’m beginning to look ahead and be less concerned with local aggravations.

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