About an hour ago, I was walking down 1st Avenue, just south of The Market, when I began smelling smoke.
As I continued to walk south, the smell got stronger and stronger, until … just before Union Street, I discovered the source of the odor.
The source was a Seattle Weekly news stand.
Yes, a Seattle Weekly news stand.
There it sat, closed, yet, for some reason, on fire.
As unusual as this was, however, it wasn’t the most striking thing on the block. What was most interesting, at least in my opinion, was the reaction of bystanders to the smoking box, or rather, their lack of reaction.
As smoke wafted from the news stand, a man stood directly beside it, using a parking meter. Pedestrians walked past the blazing stand, looked at it, and then continued on, unfazed. I stood there for 5 minutes, and I didn’t see one, single, solitary person react to the box with anything other than mild curiosity.
Say what you will about Seattleites being pussies, but had this been New York or DC, everyone on the sidewalk would have run screaming like little girls in the opposite direction while the bomb squad descended on the box with 85 armored vehicles.
Not here, though.
If there is one quality that Seattleites value over all others, it is apathy. Hardcore, gangsta apathy.
As I stood there, waiting for something to happen, I asked a woman beside me if she knew why the box was on fire.
“I dunno”, she said in a bored voice, “I called the fire department about ten minutes ago. I guess they’ll come and put it out sooner or later.”
“Pffft, you must be from out of town”, I thought, “calling the fire department just wreaks of effort.”
I quickly distanced myself from this woman lest her ambition rub off on me, and as I continued down 1st Ave, I passed a single fire truck rumbling up the street. I stopped and watched as it pulled up to the smoking box, and then I continued on my way.
As far as I could tell, there were no casualties caused by the fire.
Not that I give a shit.