According to an article in The Stranger the waterfront is going to be paved from one side to the other after the viaduct is gone.
This is a great opportunity to remember where we’ve been on this issue. The idea to build the tunnel was presented to us, as I recall, as an alternative to expanding Alaskan Way to an eight-lane mega-arterial. Not as a precursor to that. Have I remembered that wrong? I feel like I’m being gaslighted here.
Back when it began to be clear that the tunnel would mainly be a means to connect West Seattle to Ballard, I suggested we just fill in, then pave Elliott Bay.
We then found out that the tunnel would have neither exits nor entrances downtown and it would only carry two-thirds the traffic that the viaduct did.
I can’t recall a single time, not one time ever, when I was in downtown Ballard and I thought to myself, “You know where I’d like to be right now? I’d like to be at Alaska Junction.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Alaska Junction is a bad place to be. In fact I love it there. Some of my best friends live there. Well, one of them. OK, so maybe I would want to make the trip there from Ballard when I wanted to visit him. But not five days a week.
The thing I’m saying is, Ballard and West Seattle are more or less equally not downtown Seattle, and that’s their shared attraction. So if you’re in Ballard you’re already in not-downtown-Seattle, so why would you go to a different not-downtown-Seattle?
What good then is a tunnel that bypasses the one place in between the two you might occasionally want to be? Since, I don’t know, maybe you work there, because there is where jobs are.
We’re getting not only a tunnel we didn’t want that doesn’t let us go where we want to go, we’re getting the ugly road we also didn’t want. We’re getting pretty much everything but the improved transit system we wanted. For this is the worst of all possible worlds.
Speaking of what’s wrong with everything in the world, I want to share an amusing high school anecdote.
I know, right? High schools are the worst of the worst.
This is a something that happened to me that illustrates how wrong the world can be. I had a “friend” in high school I’ll call Dan.
He knows who he is. He worked in the school kitchen as a dishwasher. One day he told me he couldn’t work that day, could I help him out and take over his shift.
I had a rare feeling of mercy. I got permission to cut an English class that day, so I could do it.
After two hours of hot miserable work, I was really feeling good about the fact that the next day I would be getting back to my lousy English class. Dan showed up, and told me he had good news. He was quitting the dishwashing job and it was now mine. “Isn’t that great?” he said.
No it’s not great, I said. But he told me that it was all arranged. He’d got the cafeteria management to agree to it. It was a done deal.
I went to the manager and asked if that was true. I got a big smile out of her and a “Yes! Congratulations!” And I asked when I would get paid for the day’s shift.
“After your first two weeks of work with us.”
“There won’t be two weeks of work. That one shift is all you’re getting out of me.”
I said the story would be amusing. Here’s the amusing part: She told me in that case I wouldn’t be paid, they weren’t going to cut a check for two hours work. Ha ha!
Not only was I being roped into a job I never applied for, but I was told that if I rejected the job the two hours I spent at it would be regarded as slave labor. It was so funny I’m still chortling over the gag to this day.
I went to the school principal and shared the joke with him that very afternoon. A phone call was made from his office. He sent me back to the cafeteria. Where I was handed cash for the shift, in return for signing a receipt of payment.
That principal was the kind of guy we need now for president.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
Read the full Feb. 6 - 12 issue.
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