The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

February 1, 2010

A Fool For the City?

Filed under: Seattle — Brian Lutz @ 12:37 am

As anyone who has lived in this area for any length of time is probably aware, there’s always been something of a vague mutual antipathy between the residents of Seattle and the Eastside.  Although for the most part it stays below the surface, it doesn’t take a whole lot of goading to bring it out into the open.  A fair number of Seattleites seem to regard the Eastside as some bland suburban holding pen for uncultured yuppies, and Eastsiders seem to return the favor by dismissing Seattle as a tax-addled mess of urban crowding, traffic jams and expensive parking.  I’ll admit that under normal circumstances, I very rarely make the trip across the lake into Seattle unless I’ve got a specific reason to be there, which ends up being somewhere in the neighborhood of two or three times a year.  This hasn’t always been the case.

In fact, I actually worked in downtown Seattle for a year, back when I worked tech support out of high school.  Although I was never all that fond of that particular job, it was actually reasonably tolerable at the time, and didn’t truly start going downhill until after they packed up and moved the call center to Kirkland, where I worked another year (probably about six months longer than I should have stuck around there, when I look back at it.)  Although most of the issue was the degradation of the work environment  through a  combination of excessive productivity demands and an obsession with some vague concept of “quality” that resulted in some truly insipid policies, the location certainly didn’t help much.  Ultimately, I can’t blame the company for moving (after all, I suspect that 3 1/2 floors of downtown Seattle real estate can’t have been cheap, especially for a typically skinflint operation like a tech support call center) but the place they moved to seemed to have some sort of inexplicable soul-crushing austerity to it.  It also happened to be a far enough from any food or other services that at least 20 minutes of a 30-minute lunch break would be spent just getting to one of the four or five places within a semi-reasonable walking distance (I didn’t have my driver’s license until several months after the move took place.)  In comparison, the downtown Seattle location the company moved from had easy bus access, plenty of food choices, and a lot better scenery to boot (for much of the time I was there, I was on a part of the floor with a window facing out to Puget Sound.)  At the time, I was also working an early schedule which had me getting into the office around 7:30am or so (apparently I was a bit less of a night owl back then) which had me getting off work at 3.  Since I was rarely in any particular hurry to get home at that point, it gave me plenty of opportunity to wander around downtown Seattle and put together a pretty good mental map of the area, and to probably spend way too much time and money at the then newly opened Gameworks arcade on 7th and Pike (but that’s another story.)

Now nearly fifteen years later, I find myself (at least temporarily) working in downtown Seattle again.  Although a few things here and there have been rearranged, I’d say the part about this that most surprises me is that a lot of it has stayed pretty much the same in those fifteen years.  I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised that not much has changed when they’re working in a 120-year-old building (more on that one later,) most of my previous favorite places to eat are still there, there really haven’t been any major changes to the layout of the city of any of its major buildings (if they had ever managed to actually build the monorail they were talking about a few years back I doubt this would still be the case though) and the Seattle of 2010 bears a lot more resemblance to the Seattle of 1997 than one would have expected back then.  

Sure, working in the city does have its disadvantages (the choice between two hours of daily bus commuting or $12 of daily parking being the primary one) but it does also have its perks.  It’s definitely nice being close to things, and to an accidental amateur historian such as myself the Pioneer Square neighborhood provides plenty of interesting material.  On Friday, I got a chance to take the brief walk down to the waterfront for lunch, which is (almost) always a nice break from staring at a computer screen all day.  And if you manage to look up every once in a while, you can even get some nice views, such as this shot of the moon rising over the Smith Tower which I caught on the way home from work last week.  I know that some people don’t really care much for the city (at least not until baseball season rolls around and the Mariners start playing again) but I really think I could get used to working in downtown Seattle again.  Just don’t ask about the parking… 

Oh, and before you ask, this DOESN’T mean that I’m going to be browsing through Belltown real estate listings anytime soon.   It’s a nice place to visit, but I seriously doubt I’d ever want to actually live there.


1 Comment »

  1. Make sure you get lunch at Salumi while you’re working down there. That’s one of the biggest things I miss about working in that area.

    I lived in Belltown for about five years, and now I’ve lived on the Eastside for a similar amount of time. They each have their charms. I don’t go into Seattle much these days, but a lot of the reasons are specific to an outsider traveling in. For example, I hate the drive across the lake, especially if it’s anywhere near peak time. If I still lived in the city, that would be a non-issue. I hate having to try to find a place to park. When I lived downtown, I had my own parking spot at home and I could walk/bus/taxi easily to anywhere else downtown without a problem.

    There are a lot of nice things about living in the city, but there are nice things about living on the Eastside too. I’m not sorry I made the move.

    Comment by Sean — February 1, 2010 @ 8:20 am

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