While other independent computer types across Seattle sit in pretentious coffee shops and admire each other’s bedhead, I choose to work in slightly less happening places. My favorite of these places is the back of the Pike Place fish market, in a corner overlooking the Puget Sound. The only problem with this spot is that it is only usable on overcast days. When it’s sunny outside, the large windows glare directly onto my laptop screen, making it completely unusable.
We have had a string of just such ‘glare days’ the past few weeks, but today was finally overcast enough for me to make the trek down to the market.
Shortly after crossing First Avenue, I walked down the small road toward the market entrance when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.
It was a backpack. A lone backpack.
I stopped and looked around, trying to ascertain the backpack’s owner, but there was no one within 50 feet of it.
This was odd.
I bent down, looked at the bag, took some photographs, then stood up and looked around again. Nothing.
After about a minute, I shrugged and continued on my way. It is important to note that I did not panic or call security or run screaming in the opposite direction. I didn’t really do anything at all. I saw something, but I did not say something.
Because I’m not a Walmart shopper. I knew that the likelihood of there being an explosive in the backpack was statistically zero. I knew that the possibility existed, but the possibility also existed that there was an explosive in one of the many delivery trucks parked directly in front of the market above. I knew that the chances of getting hit by a car or being run over by a bus on the way home was ten million times more likely than there being anything dangerous in the bag.
You should know this too.
“But, but, but, Rex … what if you were wrong? What if some evil thing really was in the backpack?”
Then boy would I have egg on my face. Still, I’d rather live 10 years in freedom than 50 years in fear. Screw the brainwashing and fear-mongering. I refuse to let anyone make me afraid of my own shadow. A coward dies a thousand deaths, a brave man only one. Given that I’m somewhere in between (I’m afraid of bugs and would have called an exterminator had the backpack been a roach), I’ll die about 100 times, but I refuse to make it 101.
As if this were not enough terror for one day, things got worse …
I continued on my way, entered Pike Place Market, made my way to the back, and arrived at my office to find the following:
What … what … what the bloody hell was this?
A man, a middle-eastern man at that, had already set up shop in my office. He had three laptop computers, three radios of some sort, and yet another sinister looking backpack.
Believe me when I tell you, I was none too happy about this. I laid claim to this corner long ago, and while I am content to share it with tourists and people who don’t look like terrorists, this guy did not meet either of those criteria.
To make matters worse, when I looked out the window above his head, I could clearly see the SBX Radar in the harbor. This did not look right. What was this man doing? Was he directing an intercontinental ballistic missile? Was he sending signals to some guy in a cave? Was he the owner of the backpack outside? Where was Homeland Security and why were they not on this man like Caucasian on rice?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I did once stay at a Holiday Inn Express.
Curious, I put my things down on a nearby stool, walked over to the man, and before I could open my mouth … I caught a glimpse of his screen saver. It read simply:
Blast! Foiled again. Damn terrorists and their impenetrable shields. They knew just where my Achilles’ heel was. I’ll defy a lot of things, my friends, but a screen saver is not one of them.
I went back to my seat and watched the man adjust his radios and tap away at a keyboard. About 10 minutes later, he finished, packed up his gear, and walked away.
As he disappeared past the fish market, I looked around for damage. Fortunately, Pike Place Market was still standing. Not only was it still standing, but my office had now opened up. I made my move. With catlike reflexes and the strength of an ox, I took my rightful place in the corner seat where I belong.
Take that Bin Laden!
Victory is mine.