Thursday, June 28, 2012

Off to Seattle, If I make it. (Part I)

After the frenetic activity of last week, it might be understood that Beloved and I decided to rest and relax. We did not. Instead, we packed ourselves and our three daughters and headed to Seattle, Washington, with fourteen of our closest friends, for a total of 5 adults and 14 teenagers.This was for the annual Free Methodist National Bible Quizzing Finals, which were being held this year at Seattle Pacific University.

As you might imagine, traveling with this many people, especially teenagers is fraught with danger, miss-steps and miscues. For the trip out, we made it with only a few minor bumps.

The two people who are always late came early to the meeting and everyone else was on time as well. We got through the TSA checkpoint with only a minimum of trouble. As I was standing at the conveyor putting all of my precious metal into a plastic tub, I heard a mumble behind me. Throughout the years, ignoring mumbles has served me well, getting me out of many an unwanted task. Then I heard it again, a little bit louder, slightly clearer, but still a very distinct mumble.

I broke my “ignore the mumble” rule and turned to see a bald TSA agent looking at me. I inquired politely, “I am sorry; I didn’t hear you; could you say it again?”

He happily obliged, and repeated himself, but still with that delightful dull squawk of Mumble, just like an adult on a Peanuts TV special. I blinked, trying to process what I had just heard. Thankfully, Middlest, who is fluent in both Latin and Mumble translated for me, “Dad, he wants you to put your glasses on.” This was confusing because my glasses were on my head holding my thick mane of hair back away from my stunningly clear blue eyes. At this point, Mr. Bald TSA person, realized I did not speak mumble and spoke in English, “They have to be on your eyes.”

I am not sure what the problem was with glasses on my head, rather than on my eyes, but I think perhaps he was jealous of my thick mane of hair.

Other than that, the rest of the trip to Seattle was uneventful, except for the one quizzer, who inquired why the plane had stopped, while we were still flying at an altitude of thirty-thousand feet with an air speed of around 500mph. Ignoring the obvious fact that if the plane had stopped at thirty-thousand feet we would be plummeting to our deaths, I quipped, “We had to stop for a train.” This seemed to satisfy her curiosity.

Seattle has one of the fastest growing economies and is one of the best cities in the country to start a career. These facts are inextricably linked to the cities topography. Seattle is built on the mountains that descend into the southern reaches of Puget Sound. Since the landscape is so steep, there are no ground floors in local buildings. The buildings I visited start with the first floor and if I walked around and went in the side of the building I was on the second floor, and when I walked to the back of the building, I was on the third floor.  Being that there are no ground floors, there are also no ground level entry positions in companies. This is, in my estimation, the reason for the fast-paced growth of jobs in Seattle.

Seattle is known as one of the healthiest cities in the States. As I walked the streets I found a large number of people walking, running, and biking. There is apparently a polite way of doing this. I heard a voice behind me call out, “To the left, to the left.” I turned and there was a 100 lb woman barreling down on me with blood-lust in her eyes as she was about to body slam me and knock me into the ground. I quickly jumped to my right in an act of desperate self preservation. Beloved says I exaggerate and perhaps I do; she may only have weighed in at 90 lbs.

Another thing I noted during my walk. On every other street corner there is a gym, or martial arts dojo, or some other place where people can engage in physical fitness activities. This preoccupation is not just due to some weird confluence of as yet undetermined environmental factors; it is rather a case of self-preservation. In the few short days that I have been in Seattle, I have found that it is very difficult to get anywhere without climbing half a mountain. Thus, for Seattlites, exercise is necessary to maintain Olympic conditioning, just to walk around the block.

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