Seattle = Emergency Dispatch Nightmare: Impressions from a First-Time Visitor

There’s really no better way to enjoy the city you call home than to do so in the company of a first-time visitor. What better excuse to indulge in all the local delights and quirky trappings of your burg than to show them off to an out-of-towner? New guests can offer refreshing insights into what it is that makes your city special, and renew your appreciation for a place you’d nearly forgotten how to enjoy:

Curious visitor: “Why’s that wall caked in gum?”

Proud local: “Because Seattle!”

Gum
Yeah. This place rules.

Last week, Mike and I had the pleasure of playing host to our dear friend Belinda, who was visiting the Emerald City for the first time. By all accounts, her stay with us was a big success. The weather was freakishly pleasant, traffic was uncharacteristically obliging, and we didn’t run out of toilet paper once (wins all around). We took in all the must-see sights, enjoyed some of our favorite local eateries, and snapped a bunch of great photos:

Gorilla
I don’t photograph well in the morning.
Honey Bucket
Nothing but the finest for our house guests.
Troll
The rent-a-car folks were PISSED about their vintage Beetle.
Houseboat
Floating houses? The future is now!
Hairnets
Prepped for a day of beauty at the spa. Or was it a chocolate factory tour?

It was a real treat to witness Belinda’s reactions as she took in the sights and, perhaps more importantly, the flavors of Seattle. There was, of course, plenty of basking in the scenic splendor that surrounds our city. Belinda seemed particularly impressed by the rows of snow-capped peaks flanking the city, noting that our home state’s Green Mountains would be mere foothills in their midst:

Rainier
Mt. Rainier. For perspective, it’s 80 miles away in this shot.

And Belinda learned that when it comes to iconic landmarks, Seattle’s not all Space Needles and fish markets. We also have this:

Pink Elephant
Doubling as Seattle’s gay Republican HQ.

But let’s not kid ourselves: This city’s real attractions come in dessert form. I would be lying if I told you most of our itinerary wasn’t planned around visits to places like this:

Cupcake
Cupcakes!

And this:

Top pot
Doughnuts!

And not to mention this, and this.

For such a health-conscious city, Seattle is quite the dessert mecca. As a longtime resident of this Bermuda Triangle of sweets, all I can say is, thank goodness for its many steep hills. “No wonder you’re all so fit,” Belinda observed as I put away my eleventh doughnut. “These hills are just brutal.” Word.

Anyway, one of Belinda’s more spot-on observations about Seattle came from her experience as an emergency-services dispatcher. As someone who routinely directs first responders to emergencies, she’s developed a keen sense of workable traffic patterns. And apparently, there are one or two kinks in the layout of our fair city:

3482688962_e60f609243
If you stare at it long enough … you might get a migraine. (photo credit)

Unlike, say, Manhattan, with its rigid, numerically ordered grid, Seattle’s street plan is anything but straightforward. If you ask me, it’s more like an Escher drawing, or one of those webs spun by spiders on crack. I’ll spare you the wonky details, but let’s just say that to the unschooled visitor, these streets can get pretty disorienting pretty fast. To quote Belinda’s professional assessment, “this place is ONE BIG CLUSTERFUCK.”

Okay, maybe those weren’t her exact words. But she did point out that this city is “full of emergency-services nightmares.”

As we zipped across our sprawling cityscape, Belinda couldn’t help but marvel at the confidence with which Mike and I navigated this jumbled maze of thoroughfares. How was it possible, she wondered, that we could find our way to cross-town destinations without the aid of GPS, or some kind of celestial navigation? Fortunately, Mike and I are seasoned Seattle veterans who’ve been working this crazy jigsaw puzzle for years. I suppose our ability to navigate the city with relative ease is one of those things we now take for granted.

This is not to say we don’t hit our fair share of snags around town. There are times, for example, when just getting home can be a bit of an ordeal. You see, while Seattle is not without imagination when it comes to naming its streets:

TrollAve
Not pictured: Ogre Boulevard and Gremlin Lane.

One sometimes senses that they’re not even trying:

BBB
Not pictured: the actual city of Bellevue.

This in-no-way-confusing intersection is where you’ll find Mike’s and my apartment building (you’re welcome, internet stalkers). It’s tucked away in a relatively quiet corner of our neighborhood, and, as Mike recounted to Belinda, it often requires careful explanation:

Taxi driver: “Where to?”

Mike: “The corner of Bellevue, Bellevue, and Bellevue, please.”

Driver: “No such corner, wise guy.”

Mike: “Dude. I think I know where I live.”

And so begins the comedy routine that is describing our address to locals and visitors alike. Belinda was right – God help us in an emergency.

But thankfully, Belinda’s stay with us was emergency-free. It fact, the entire visit was just about perfect. I’m confident her first impression of Seattle blew away all expectations, and hopeful that a few days with the city’s two funnest gays left her eager to return soon. But until that day comes – thanks to Belinda’s own expert observations – Mike and I can rest easy knowing that if ever there is an emergency, we’ll be pretty well effed.

KerryPark
Thanks for coming, B!
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