Jan 14, 2006

FOUR O'CLOCK COURAGE
The shuttle driver knocks. And waits. Knocks again. Peers. Shuffles. Lights blaze, but no one stirs inside the Queen Anne redbrick. As he retreats down the porch, a young woman in pink Capri pajamas hurtles outside. She apologizes profusely, hands pressed to her heart.

“Anything, anything you can do, please,” she begs. “I understand if you can't, though. I overslept. I'm so sorry.”

Driver John is uncomfortable. “I'm in no hurry,” I offer.

He radios for advice. Should he loop back in 15 minutes to collect her? “That would be really nice,” the dispatcher crackles. I nod.

We plunge down the Denny regrade into Belltown, where a sharp-featured woman stands outside her condo. Even a studio here, I'm guessing, runs at least $350,000.

Madam, however, is clearly not the studio sort. “Well, I would have left her,” she announces in an East Coast accent. “I mean, it's not fair. No one likes getting up this early. I would have liked more sleep too.”

“I'd hate to see anyone miss their flight,” I say mildly.

“Well, she should have gotten up on time then,” Madam crows. “We shouldn't have to be delayed for her.”

I gesture to the clock. “Are you worried about missing your flight? I have plenty of time…”

“-so do I,” she slices. “But it's not fair.”

Goodness woman, what made you so brittle? And why are we alpha-dogging at each other's throats?

“She's just a young thing. And she was such a sweetie.”

“I don't care. Rules are rules.”

John interjects, modifying this theme: “I'm only following orders.” His shoulders hunch around his ears. He wants out of this clash of Titanesses. So do I.

“Well,” my teeth are gritted. “Just consider it your good deed for the day.”

The driver finally breaks the silence. “So, where are you going?”

“To Hawaii. To relax.”

Amen, sister.

***
The late passenger was a 20-year-old George Washington University sophomore, studying feminism and globalization. She'd slept through two alarms, feeling poorly after a tonsillectomy. Her parents were away for the weekend.

She was the sort of sweet, earnest young woman that lived in unheated host-homes in Ecuador and Guatemala. She was off to Shanghai next, nervous but eager.

But Madam would have let her miss the shuttle. Because those extra 15 minutes at the Sea-Tac Starbucks really make the trip. Hurry up and relax, already!

Someone needs to tell Scrooge Christmas is over.

Enough said.

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