If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know about the awfulness in Seattle on Day 10. I’m going to break it down here so that I don’t have to deal with it in the main post. All of Seattle shouldn’t be tainted by a few terrible people.
#1 Within 48 hours of reaching Seattle, I had witnessed six car accidents.
At each and every one, at least one of the drivers got out of the car screaming. This doesn’t include the number of times I saw people stop in the middle of the road to yell at a driver/cyclist/pedestrian for being “in the way.”
Just a little PSA: No one is in your way simply by being on a road, on a sidewalk, in a bar. We share this planet and all its space at all times. I cannot stand when I hear someone say “get out of the way.” It screams of a distinct narcissism and lack of empathy.
I’ve lived in the Bay Area for nearly 16 years, and I haven’t seen that many accidents happen in the entire time I’ve lived there. So much for our traffic being the worst to drive in. Seattle has us beat with aggression alone.
#2 I got spit on.
To be fair, I have no idea if he meant to spit on me, or if he was just yelling so much that he was frothing at the mouth. I also don’t know if he was yelling at me or just near me. He didn’t appear to be homeless, but he was having such a meltdown that he was basically incoherent.
#3 Tako got kicked twice for merely existing.
First Incident: Walking down the street.
We were following a large group of people who were heading toward Pike Place, but stopping every few feet to take group photos. I wasn’t really in a hurry, so I was just keeping pace with them and waiting until their photos were done. Tako sat patiently each time we stopped.
The group in front of us stopped at a corner, and we stopped next to the lightpost. The woman who was apparently right on our heels either didn’t notice or didn’t particularly care that we had stopped. She yelled “Jesus Christ!” and swept Tako to the side with her foot.
My first reaction was to grab him out of danger, and she ran across the street (through traffic on a red) before I could even say anything. No one asked if the dog was okay, and the group in front of me (whom I’d been so patient with) asked me to move because I was in their shot.
I assumed the woman was homeless and agitated and tried to shake off the incident. Tako was freaked out, but he’s a chill little dude and seemed to get over it fairly quickly.
Note: There are a lot of homeless people in Seattle. I’m from San Francisco, which I thought had the highest % of homeless in the nation, and it shocked me how many I came across there. They can be very aggressive, but most of the time they just want to be left alone.
Second Incident: The Bus
It’s legal to bring your dog on the bus in Seattle, so after a long day of walking, I waited for the 62 Line near downtown. We got on, but the Googs had the fare wrong (Google says the fare is $2.50 — it’s actually $2.75 for anyone who wants to join in on the fun I’m about to describe) so I had to pause at the front and get out another dollar.
Tako was waiting next to me, and a man got on the bus. He seemed fine at first. But he didn’t pay the fare, and when he noticed Tako he yelled “Stupid fucking mutts!” at the top of his lungs and kicked him.
Just plain ol’ kicked him.
I grabbed Tako and glanced at the driver to see if he was going to do anything about the clearly insane person who just got on the bus. He resolutely stared at the windshield and shook the transfer pass in my face because I was failing to take it.
And then I hear from the woman at the front: “My sentiments exactly.”
I am ashamed to admit that I was so overwhelmed by the violence towards my dog* that I simply climbed to the back of the bus and sat down without saying a word.
I wish I had said something. I wish I had done something. But I also know that anything I said or did would only have made that situation worse.
I got off the bus early, found an alley, and cried for about ten minutes while I made sure Tako wasn’t permanently damaged. He seemed sore around the ribs, but okay otherwise.
Then I left the city and went back to Fremont — which does not share that undercurrent of aggression with the downtown area — for a while before heading to my friend Isaac’s place for dinner.
*A couple people have asked me what Tako did. I find this reaction troubling on a couple of levels, but let me answer that question for all who have it in their minds.
On the sidewalk, Tako had just sat down to wait just in front of my feet. He wasn’t even facing the woman, never saw her coming.
On the bus, Tako was standing just behind the driver, off the to side of the pathway. He didn’t bark. He didn’t lunge. He was cringing away from the man, actually, which I now realize was probably an instinctive reaction; at the time, I just thought Tako was trying to stay out of the way.
I’m so sorry, buddy. I should have listened to you better.
And here’s my rebuttal to all who asked that troubling question:
What could a pug (at a max of 22lbs) have done to deserve being kicked by a full-grown adult human?
Violence towards creatures who can’t fight back (either adequately, or at all) is a form of abuse.