Seattlites take their traffic control devices very seriously. I found this out last week while I was there for a job-related (i.e., non-Star Trek) convention. Being from the Northeast, I consider “WALK” and “DONT WALK” to be less like commands and more like friendly suggestions. But as I wandered around the streets of Seattle, I noticed that even with no sign of a motor vehicle for blocks in either direction, people in that city will obediently stand on the curb, waiting for the light to change.
It can’t be good to voluntarily let computers override our ability to make simple decisions for ourselves. That’s the first step towards letting the machines win. Jaywalking is a way to fight back, like Neo diving headfirst into Agent Smith and ripping him apart from the inside.
“You know, my cab driver told me that the cops in Seattle will ticket you for jaywalking,” a co-worker said as I started to walk across a completely deserted street against the signal.
“Whatever, Copper Top. No machine’s going to tell me how to live,” I said, crossing the street, striking a blow for humanity and getting hit by a delivery truck.
When I finally made it to the convention center, I ran into a couple of guys who were about my age, and we got to talking about our wives back home, all of whom had started taking grad school classes recently.
“My wife’s been so busy studying, so doesn’t even do my laundry anymore,” one guy said.
I stared at him, open-mouthed.
“Yeah, mine’s been the same way. She stopped doing my laundry, and when she does cook, it’s just not as good as it used to be,” said the other.
I stood there, waiting for the punch line that never came. These guys were serious. Did they also get daily pedicures? Did their wives cut their food into bite-size morsels for them? When they went to the grocery store, did their wives let them sit in the cart that looks like a little red car and make “vroom, vroom!” noises?
The cooking is one thing, but I thought laundry-doing wives went out with the Eisenhower administration. Occasionally, my wife Kara will accidentally wash an errant T-shirt that strays into her laundry pile, but otherwise, we pretty much clean up after ourselves, when we clean up at all. I don’t expect her to do my laundry, and she doesn’t expect me not to sit on the couch with my hand down my pants. It’s a fair system.
Also, on the plus side, it seems that I have been mercifully spared from any period of adjustment resulting from Kara’s educational pursuits. Not like those suckers with the laundry-doing wives. Poor saps.
Now that my rain-soaked week in Seattle has wrapped up and I’m making my way back home, I wonder how things are going back at the house without me. I have a mental image of Kara strolling around the living room in her bathing suit, with every light in the house blazing, the thermostat cranked up to eighty-seven and HGTV blaring from every room.
I should have more to say about Seattle, but when you’re traveling for work and trying to look busy, it’s hard to actually experience the place you’re visiting. It did seem like a very nice city, full of friendly people who didn’t seem the least bit bothered by the lack of urinal dividers in their convention center. Note to anyone considering opening their own convention center: a dollar spent on urinal dividers is never a dollar wasted.
So it was a successful trip, and I’m looking forward to being home. My only regret is that I didn’t get a chance to start a grunge band while I was there. But I did open a Starbucks. And then I threw a chair through the window.
You can tell Mike Todd whether to take the blue pill or the red pill online at firstname.lastname@example.org.