The day started off with a bang. Or rather, a crash. It was 5:30 in the morning and I was dead asleep until the horrendous crash occurred. I tell you, nothing brings a neighborhood together like an early morning car wreck. I called 911 mere seconds after it happened, but it didn't do much good--by the time I got through, they already knew about the wreck and had sent emergency personnel on their way. I bundled up in a few layers of clothes and headed outside.
Wrecks happen with surprising regularly out here, at the bottom of a steep 20% grade. I've heard that it's the second steepest street in all of the Seattle. (Okay, it ties for second place. Apparently four or five streets in town have 20% grades, but only one has a 21% grade.) I even wrote about a motorcycle accident that happened at the same location a few years ago.
The car was in pretty bad shape, having sheered through the base of a utility pole. Two individuals were in the car, and the driver wasn't responsive. Within minutes, dozens of rescuers had arrived--police, firetrucks, and two ambulances, but the two individuals were stuck in the car. A group of firefighters swarmed the car like bees around a beehive. (With all their yellow coats, they almost did look like large bees swarming around a hive.) They used the Jaws of Life to rip open the passenger door and get the passenger out. The driver's side took the brunt of the impact, and the cut off the top of the car to get to the driver, finally extracting him. A wave of relief seemed to rush through the growing crowd when we saw the driver lift her arm--she was moving! There were no fatalities! Not yet, at least!
I'm kind of hesitant to call them 'victims' since we could see an opened bottle of whiskey in the front seat and they were clearly driving way too fast if they could sheer the utility pole off at the base--at best, they were victims of their own stupidity. But for lack of a better term, let's call them victims. Once they were out and rushed to the hospital, the tension surrounding the accident scene dropped dramatically, and there was a lot of 'hurry up and wait' kind of attitude. The utility pole still dangled from the electrical lines, stretching all of the lines in every direction tight. It knocked out power to about 2000 homes and businesses, but ironically, the street light on the dangling utility pole continued to work.
The live electrical lines did their best to catch some trees on fire. We could see the branches where it touched the lines burning. It's probably a good thing this happened in the dead of winter. If it happened in the fall with the trees full of dry leaves, it probably would have burst into flames. As it was, the bare branches seemed to flicker with small flames, but never quite catching.
A truck from Seattle City Light (SCL) arrived soon, and turned off the power around it. The police and firemen wandered around checking stuff out. Eventually, Amanda and I grew bored of watching and went back to sleep. We took some pictures before leaving, but they didn't turn out very well since it was still dark out. I hoped the wreck would still be there at sunrise so we could get better pictures.
A couple of hours later, when the sun did start coming up, we went back out. The scene hadn't changed at all since we left. Investigators were on the scene, measuring distances, and taking pictures. I went inside quickly to get something and when I came back out, Amanda told me that one of the cops took out the bottle of whiskey and poured out the rest of the contents before taking it as evidence. As one neighbor noted, "There wasn't much he poured out."
We were out there for a half hour or so, watching the scene, before a tow truck arrived and whisked the totaled car away. Shortly thereafter, more SCL trucks arrived, one containing a new utility pole. Our power was still on this whole time, but once SCL went to work, they turned off our power for the next several hours.
By around noon, it was time for me to get going. I had plans for the day! Today was the day I intended to ride our light rail trail without any pants! When I left, our power was still off and the new utility pole had already been driving into the ground. The broken pole was aligned next to the new pole, and they were hard at work transferring and fixing all of the lines.
I walked over to the bus stop and rode into downtown Seattle and headed to Westlake Center. The rain turned to snow, then turned to rain again, then turned to snow again. Definitely cold out!
I met with Snowfire, her boyfriend, and her brother. Snowfire did this no pants ride last year. She had experience. She knew what she was doing. While I had never rode any mass transit systems without any pants, I did have some experience in hiking naked. =)
We stood around outside in the plaza outside of Westlake Center with a bunch of other people planning to take off their pants. I looked for Kuku, but we didn't see her. *shaking head* (I'm talking to YOU, Kuku!) The organizers were talking about what to do through a bullhorn, and wanted to wait a couple of more minutes for last minute folks to arrive. It was cold and raining/snowing, so Snowfire directed us to the light rail station. We could wait there, underground, where it was warmer. She'd done this before. She knew what she's doing.
I bought my tickets to the airport, and a light rail train soon pulled up. We let it go without us, though. Those fools waiting around outside hadn't arrived yet, and we wanted more company than just ourselves!
A few minutes later, the rest of the soon-to-be-pantless-riders arrived, and when the next light rail train arrived, we piled in. Standing room only. And the train started moving....
Nobody took off their pants immediately. The next stop came and went, then the first of the people started taking off their pants. I waited for another stop to go by. Figured I'd wait until after we got out of the transit tunnel under the city. A couple of guys standing next to me started taking their pants off, which was awkward because the car was so crowded, there wasn't a lot of room to work with. Frankly, I don't think we could have all gotten our pants off at the same time even if we tried to.
When the two guys near me finished getting their pants off and I had more room to work with, I followed suit. And you know, it wasn't really a big deal. When nearly half the people on the train had already taken off their pants, I was starting to look more and more conspicuous for having pants on.
After about ten minutes, pretty much everyone who arrived to take off their pants had taken off their pants, and the few remaining people who didn't have their pants off just laughed, absolutely bewildered at what was going on. I overhead one guy telling his friend that he heard about something like this happening a couple of years before in New York City. And I thought, "Yeah, and now it's happening in cities all over the world. And if you were riding the subway in New York today, you'd have seen pantless riders there too." But I only thought that--I didn't tell him that. We were supposed to keep a straight face and act like nothing unusual was going on, so that's what we did. =)
Pantless riders started getting off at each of the stops, to wait in the snow in many cases for the train behind it. We didn't do that. First, it was cold outside. And second, Snowfire's brother actually had to go to the airport. We were multi-tasking. =) So as we got further down the line, the train became less and less crowded. By the time we arrived at the airport, we were a few of only people without pants left on the train. The people with pants actually outnumbered us, but we knew a lot more pantless people would arrive with the next train.
Near the end of the line, one woman told us that she flew out to Seattle with a group of people who were taking a shuttle to the airport. She choose the mass transit option and was glad she did--she thought all of us pantless folks were hilarious and asked if it was okay to take photos of us--she wanted proof this crazy ride for her friends. Sure! Go for it!
We walked out to the airport from the stop, through the baggage claim, and left Snowfire's brother at the drop-off zone for passengers. We saw a couple of people without pants, but the masses had not yet arrived. Snowfire's brother put his pants back on--he was done with the little event and wouldn't be returning with us. We took photos, then started walking back to the light rail station as the snow started falling heavily. Good times!
We got back to the light rail station just as the next train load of pantless riders arrived, and they came out in droves. We jumped in where it was warm. Some riders stayed on, and the few who got out with us also got on. Before the train pulled out, the driver made an announcement that anyone causing trouble or yelling would get us booted off the train. It was rather insulting. Everyone was being perfectly courteous and friendly. Just because we weren't wearing any pants was no reason to yell at us. Jerk. The other light rail workers in the stations were perfectly nice and friendly and had no problem with all of the pantless people running around. Just our particular driver.
When we got back to the International District, we put our pants back on, and at Westlake Center, our little pantless adventure was over. Good times for all! =)
I decided to walk back home, and when I arrived, everything was back to normal. The new utility pole had been installed and the old one removed and all of the power was back on. Last I heard about the two victims of the crash on the 11:00 news was that they both suffered from "life threatening injuries," which I considered good news since it meant they weren't dead. (Remarkable considering the severity of the crash.) I also saw a small clip of all those "crazy" pantless riders taking over the light rail that afternoon, but alas, it didn't include any clips of us. The news folks must have been in a train behind us somewhere.
|This was the only damage left from the car crash when I got back. |
I can't tell you when the next crash will happen (I know more will happen, I just don't know when), but unless some other plans come up, I hope to ride the light rail without any pants again next year! =) Come join me! (I'm talking to YOU, Kuku!)
|I'm always pushing the envelope! =)|