WINTER BREAK IN SAN FRANCISCO
We were in San Francisco, and we saw you down near the Ferry Building: a public toilet! We rubbed our eyes and blinked a few times to be sure, because Seattle doesn't have such things. But you were real! People who probably had no homes, let alone private bathrooms, entered you, did their thing in peace, and left. So did people with nicer threads who just really. needed. to. go. right. now. When we returned to Seattle, we refreshed our memory of this city's endless attempts to get itself just one functioning public bathroom somewhere. Yep: still endless. Back in 2003, the City of Seattle bought FIVE supposedly fancy public toilets that it turned out didn't work for shit. The total cost to the city: $5 million. The amount these things sold for on eBay (yes, really, eBay) when the city finally gave up on them was $2,500 each. Then last year, a full 12 years after our last failed public toilet attempt, the city promised to install one—just one!—public toilet in Pioneer Square by the end of 2015. It was to be modeled on the successful "Portland Loo" design: "small, solar-powered and made from heavy-gauge stainless steel with a graffiti-resistant finish," as the Seattle Times described the thing. Well, the end of 2015 has come and gone, and still no public toilet in Pioneer Square. Gary Johnson at the Seattle Department of Planning and Development told the Times in May of 2015 that his department's goal was to make our loo appear "ASAP." So The Stranger contacted Johnson and asked what's up. He sent a cryptic answer that didn't explain the failure of our loo to appear on time. But he did say there are now loo "exploration committees" in Ballard and the University District. As for Pioneer Square and its "piss problem"? Johnson told us that "a privately funded initiative has emerged to create a kiosk with food service and restrooms in Occidental Square Park." He did not elaborate. Meanwhile, people still have to piss.
WINTER BREAK ON ALASKA AIRLINES
On Christmas day, you, a gentleman with a kind, rosy-cheeked face, a full white beard, a prodigious belly, a red flannel shirt, and gold-rimmed glasses, were seated on an Alaska Airlines flight to Colorado Springs. During the flight, which had been delayed for four hours (including one hellish hour spent sitting on the tarmac), a young father let his toddler loose to walk up and down the aisle. When the child passed your row, she stopped, pointed directly at you, and bellowed, "Ho ho ho!" If you noticed (and it's hard to imagine you didn't), you made no indication. This must happen to you all the time.
WINTER BREAK IN VANCOUVER, BC
You and your friends were a bicycle gang, and you were blasting the biggest hiphop beat we had ever heard as the three of you cycled toward Hastings Street. Is this a trend in Vancouver? Turning those corners on low, souped-up bikes? We had never seen anything like it in Seattle, where our gangs tend to prefer automobiles or motorbikes. In Canada, even the gangsters are green.
YOU OUGHTA KNOW
In Seattle, New Year's Eve karaoke at International District mainstay Bush Garden attracted a lot of different skill levels. It was a shame that you, the young, red-haired woman who sang Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know," didn't take over the rest of the evening and do Alanis covers all night. Not only was your voice fantastic (with just the right kind of enunciation and guttural emphasis on "Go down on you/in a thee-ah-turr"), but as a performer, you also mastered the art of being sullen and magnetic at the same time.
MY SURPRISED FACE
You, an early thirtysomething man, were sipping coffee at Cafe Argento with a friend (boyfriend?) and an older woman who was discussing real estate. You wore a sweater the color of pancake batter, jeans, and black rectangular glasses. The boyfriend (let's assume he was the boyfriend) murmured something about a recent protest, maybe that antifascist one. "Another protest on Capitol Hill?" you asked, and then assumed an expression of total boredom. "My surprised face," you said.
O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
Training to become a ferryboat captain takes as many as 15 years. So what were you thinking on that cold January day when, from your captain's seat, you stared off across the water to Bremerton? Only two months ago, Washington State officials warned that upcoming retirements and a lack of a training pipeline could leave the ferry system critically short-staffed. Were you imagining your retirement? Were you thinking about how much your skills are needed and how few people can actually do them? What made you want to become a ferryboat captain, anyway? Why don't we know more about the lives of the people who safely sail us through Puget Sound?
SLIDING ON STEEL IN THE RAIN
Random squares of rain-slicked electrical access panels embedded into the sidewalks are one of the many dangers of deep winter in Seattle. Not so for you, wild one, forerunner, man wearing several layers of fuzzy coats. As the rain poured down outside Spin Cycle, you got a running start, jumped, and slid across the top one of those metal lids like it was nothing—like a child (or an adult who hasn't let his inner child die) slides on any and every available patch of ice. We salute you, and wish for you a long and wet winter.