Monday, March 20, 2006

Seattle for a dummy

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


  1. 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.

    Why exactly this is the EXACT mental image I have of you, I'll never know. But I do know the fact that you wrote it made me shoot juice through my nose. I'll be expecting my new laptop by the end of the week.

  2. OK- so when I was in Seattle for the national poetry slam, I jaywalked. NOT a good idea. It was 1:30 am and I was decently plastered after listening to poets rant and rave and be awesome. Nobody was driving, so I crossed the street. Out of NOWHERE, and I mean must have fallen from the sky no where, this cop screeches up to me, and comes within 2 feet of breaking my femur, lights flashing and siren blaring. Gives me the "I don't know how they do things in Utah but here we have rules..." The whole thing was perposterous. He let me off with a warning, for jaywalking. What a dumbass.

  3. So i just had to post a comment for the sake of posting a comment. Long time reader, first time commenter, if you will.

    I just wanted to let you know that you are friggin' hilarious. I truly enjoy your writing and look forward to a new post week after week.

    Oh, and by the way, I am so glad you don't sit on your couch with your hands down your pants. I don't know you, but I can imagine that would be an ugly picture. I thank you on behalf of your wife. ;)

  4. Mikka -- Glad it was only juice. It is great to have you back, man.

    Stoby -- I'll have to rhyme a comment over in your neck of the woods. Thanks for providing some evidence that not everything here is completely pulled out of my ass.

    Goodtimes -- Thanks for makin' my day! I have some bad news about the hands down the pants thing, though. Check out the double negative action in that sentence. And yes, it is an ugly picture.

  5. Hmmm! Now that I think about it, you're marriage is a little weird, err different. I don't think I can name any other couple that does their own laundry. I mean, Vallimont does the laundry in their household and Jenny usually cooks great meals. Gentzel's wife does the laundry in that household for the most part, but sometimes they switch. The point is, they combine their laundry without fear that cooties will be transferred.

    As for dividers at the urinals, NO WAY MAN! I like checking out the guy next to me... my guess is that those convention center restrooms were designed by a gay architect.

  6. tickets for jay-walking? really?!?! who'da thunk it?

    you really keep your laundry separate? hmmm. that's interesting...

  7. WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IS NOT FOR THE WEAK MINDED. POSSIBLE WACKJOB HERE thanks for the couch visual... disturbing. But normal for most men I know.

    Anyway, will you marry me so I don't have to do laundry anymore? I actually overheard my husband tell someone he has a wife... that's why HE doesn't do laundry. Then he hit me over the head with a cavemanclub and dragged me into the cave. Yeah - he slept in the doghouse for a little while.

    However, I do get some perverse pleasure in fighting with him over the laundry. See, he doesn't like to get his clean socks back inside-out and I am NOT sticking my hand in the dirty sock to turn it right side-out (he takes his socks off and they resemble an inside out scrunched up ball thingy). Plus I love to keep all the clean, folded clothes in baskets so he has to paw through them to find his stuff. He doesn't dare complain or he'd get the "Do the laundry yourself" speech.

    oh God - I can't believe I am telling you this but when we were first married, (daily) I used to warm his clothes up in the dryer so he would have cozy, warm stuff to put on . THAT endeared me to him FOREVER ha ha and then he hit me over the head with a caveman club and I smartened up.