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The Darker Side of Life in the “Big” City

One of the perks of working downtown is being a mere 7 blocks from Pike Place Market, home of farm direct produce, beef, farm fresh eggs, wild seafood, fresh flowers, Starbucks the first and more. As it was sunny today – gasp –  I decided to soak up the sun and walk down to the market to buy some of Uli’s Famous Sausage’s German Bratwurst and hot mustard for dinner. 

I set out from my office, looking forward to enjoying my walk, the sun, and some walking meditation and then I reached the corner, the don’t walk sign and the first of one too many panhandlers.  In a mere 7 blocks and 10 minutes I was asked for money, not once not twice, not even three times, but 7 times once per block.  And asked is putting it nicely.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I realize we’re in a recession, I realize people have lost their jobs, I am and have been concerned about homelessness for years and I donate regularly to local organizations that are tackling homelessness and food scarcity head on.  In other words, I don’t think I fall into the heartless bitch category.  Nonetheless, I FEEL HARASSED!  I fantasize about walking down the street and not being bothered.  I now get why Garbo so famously said “I want to be left alone.”  And yeah, I’m starting to really miss the quiter streets of Los Angeles!

More importantly, after several downtown strolls to Safeco Field to watch the Mariners – lose – and no joke, every time, hearing some loud, cuss-filled rant as I pass through Pioneer Square – a once thriving historical district that is looking more and more like a ghost town – I get why the tourists are staying away, the businesses are pulling out and Elliot Bay Books is relocating to Capitol Hill.  Hell, after my walk today I’m reconsidering future visits to Pike Place and I’m at heart a city girl.  I expect a little harassment, but enough is enough.

Wake up Seattle, and specifically Mayor McGinn, and clean up your house.  Maybe instead of finding new ways to block the tunnel fix to the viaduct you should work on putting your efforts and the City’s money toward getting the ever-growing homeless population off the streets.  I think I speak for more than myself when I say I would rather see these people fed, sheltered, and trained in job skills than have you waste more money evaluating the 520 bridge project AGAIN! 

Phew, I just really needed to get that off my chest, thanks for listening 😉


6 Responses

  1. Wow, I had no idea that Elliot Bay Books is relocating. That actually does make me quite sad (I lived in Seattle for an all-too-brief moment, 2000-2002). It’s hard – I live in LA and feel like we’re so immune to it because we drive around, enclosed in our glass and steel cars, so we can ignore it. I’m not saying that your experience is “better”, but maybe it’s more real?

    • Maybe. But really is there anything more real than a guy jumping on your windshield to clean it at a freeway offramp? Or have things changes since I lived in LA? My frustration is that the city throws money away while it ignores is homelessness problem. If the city has millions of dollars to reevaluate a light rail project that has already been approved by the voters (and it doesn’t), doesn’t it make more sense to instead spend that money feeding and sheltering its mot vulnerable citizens?

  2. I have a kind of funny homeless story. My husband gives money to almost every homeless person who asks for it. So he was walking along the streets of Baltimore one day and a man asked if he had any change. So my husband only had a $10 and gave it to the guy.

    The man looks at it, scowls and says, “What? You don’t have a 20?”

    You can’t win either way.

  3. Oh my…yes, that would have me desiring to vent too. Definitely!

  4. This story reminds me a lot of the feeling I get walking in Berkeley. But I’d still love to work in downtown Seattle. I’d mosey on down to the Seattle’s Best coffee place every day (oh, and get a bag of mini doughnuts from Pike Place) 🙂

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