Break time in Seattle – Disappointment in Pike Place Market

downloadWe had mixed feelings after visiting downtown Seattle yesterday. I grew up thirty miles South, near Tacoma, and I’ve spent untold hours roaming the streets of the downtown. This time, we went for a fun family day and I was astounded  – flabbergasted – by the crowds. Driving down the rolling hills toward the water, I kept wondering if there was an event going on as nicely dressed families and grunged-up nineties hold-overs were practically running down the sidewalks. We found parking a few blocks away and walked to the market. Once there, it was hard to go anywhere without shoving. The three places I wanted to see – Starbucks, Piroshky Piroshky, and Beecher’s Cheese – all had lines half a block long and I wasn’t interested enough to wait. Mal’s goal of a bag of goodies from Le Panier and flowers for the moms was easier to achieve. While we pushed through the crowds, I stopped and chatted up a girl selling wire jewelry who said that this was the normal Saturday crowd. Ugh.

I can’t say how many times I’ve made the drive to Seattle for a day of fun but this just wasn’t it. It was almost impossible to walk through the main floor of the market and any stretch of grass was taken up with the homeless or hapless. The smell of weed and urine was everywhere. At one point, just as we were leaving, a greasy man pushed his way through the crowds shouting ‘get out of my way or I’ll kill a few of you fuckers!’ I talked later with a friend who spent Friday there. He said several people cleared out an area when some white guy started shadow-boxing on the walkway telling passers-by that ‘today would be a great day to murder a few niggers!’ I love me some good fun and have been in my share of questionable situations on a late night Seattle excursion but this is just no place for me and the kids.

A nice pic of the girls after weaving through sleeping bags, urine, and lots of weed.

I wonder how much heartache and hurt could be avoided with better mental health and addiction recovery programs? Or programs to help people keep homes and jobs? How many families are one or two lost paychecks away from losing their homes?  I’ve been there. I haven’t a clue about what is available but I’m sure it’s not enough. We passed a couple of tent city areas on the way downtown and I was surprised at the number of apparently homeless living at the market. I haven’t a clue what should be done and don’t know if anyone does. But it creates a sad angst in me thinking of how much sadness and loneliness must fill these people and their families. I’ve been haunted by this thought ever since reading Elena Gorokhova’s A Mountain of Crumbs about growing up in the Soviet Union. When young Elena announced that she was moving to America her mother recoiled, asking “Why would you want to live in a place where they let their comrades live under bridges and die without health  care?” I don’t know.

On a happy note, we learned that Madi is a fan of raspberry croissants and discovered that Northwest Woodworkers Gallery has moved nearby so we enjoyed some gorgeous woodwork and furniture.


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