Eight of us were still ramming it north on the majestic northbound 75 Milwaukee to St Johns this morning. Most everyone had been dumped out at Hollywood TC or Killingsworth leaving four of us rush-hour regs in our comfortable/semi-comfortable/befogged prep-zone pre-work. The other four people I did not recognize.

There is a 4-6 plex on the east side of NE 42nd near N Columbia that is one of the worst bits of housing in the city. Very, very small shotgun style, plywood over windows, swampy front-yard, wind-blasted, warped front walls, plastic for windows. Don’t see how they pass any kind of code.

Anyway, we were blasting towards this plex and the regs know the apartments are coming because you can see people’s heads turn to check them out. I mean it is human nature to examine anything relatively out of the ordinary. The trick is not bringing judgement/voyeurism to the table. Still, it is not easy to be unemotional/non-political/un-concerned when you see this plex. That said we get there and for the first time this winter I saw someone standing in the doorway of one of the plexes. It was a woman of middle-age in her bathrobe with a cup of coffee looking at all the geese and gulls overhead (this part of town is a major flyway and really a dramatically beautiful part of town). Out of pure chance she looked down as I was looking at her and we had direct eye contact. I pointed to the sky and smiled and she smiled and flapped her wings. This was a truly beautiful thing to me.

© Scott Tienken

About Scott Tienken

Scott Tienken is co-editor of The Cartophile Imprint, a publishing/music/and public arts website. His current novel, Mass Transportation, the second installment of his Portland Trilogy, takes place on the northbound 75 busline to St. Johns. He is founding member of the Pine Needles music collective. He is a certified city and public art project geek, works for the county library, and is looking for a chess partner. (Scott Tienken owns the copyright on all his contributions, please contact him for permission to republish).
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4 Responses to Opportunity

  1. Heather says:

    I love this story.

  2. Alexis Gonzales says:

    Good/interesting/cool story. Plus, I finally read someone who uses more slash marks than I do!

  3. Andrew says:

    This really rings true! My last job had me riding the 75 every day, and I know that plex well. One of the many mysterious and confounding sights of that journey.

    Also, I’m fairly certain Circadia is some sort of front for trafficking uranium or something. I’ll trust Michael to ferret out the truth on that one.

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