Last week, I arrived at Massage Envy at Northgate Mall. I was ten minutes early for my appointment, thanks to my husband Art's penchant for getting places on time. He assumes every light will be red, so we leave early if he is driving. This was one of those days.
The man sitting next to me in the waiting room wore a red hoodie that proclaimed "Team Rubicon." I read it aloud and he looked up from his phone. I said "What's Team Rubicon?" He put his phone on the table and told me it's an organization of former military first responders joined with civilian first responders. They work with disaster prep and disaster relief. He'd been in Seattle all week, along with many others from around the country, working on a simulation for the massive earthquake that's predicted to occur here with the next few decades. He said, "My squadron's job is to assess the condition of airports after a disaster, and to call in engineering help as needed. Even if everyone who lives here is killed in the disaster, people coming in from elsewhere will know exactly what to do."
The webpage for Team Rubicon is inspiring and impressive.
Disasters are our business.unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.
I introduced myself. His name is K.C. and he grew up in Kirkland, Washington, but now lives and works in Washington DC. I said, "You know, I think it would be great if there were a program that takes returning vets and puts them to work - with their strategic and tactical thinking, teamwork, leadership and discipline - rebuilding our infrastructure. It would be such a useful way for them to continue being of service." K.C. said, "The company where I work now is involved with that."
I gave K.C. my card and asked him to send me information. I would love to be part of that effort. I explored the Team Rubicon website. What a great idea.
Also last week, I took my eight-year-old iMac to the Apple Store to have its data erased. I hadn't used it in two years, had misplaced the recovery disk and couldn't remember the administrative password to log on. I sat at the Genius Bar next to a young man who was having something done with his iPad and his iPhone. The man said, "What are you doing with your computer when it is erased?" He had a faint but charming accent. I said, "I'm going to donate it to Goodwill." He said, "I will buy it from you." "Really? How much?" "Fifty dollars. But my wife has the money and she has gone with the mother to buy some socks. Can you wait?"
"Her mother is my mother."
We introduced ourselves. His name is Dimitri and he came to the United States from Ukraine in 2000, when he was eleven. We chatted about the stereotypes we can have about people from other countries, and about the other countries themselves, and how they often don't match up with reality. I told him about watching a show last week with a scene shot in the Moscow airport. A very modern place that didn't correspond at all to my young adult perception of a country supposedly going to seed. I expected something more utilitarian and primitive anywhere in Russia, even today. Not so.
We both watched the Apple Store door, but the wife didn't appear. Then I said, "I will give you my computer for $40, since you had the idea." I gave him my card and said, "Send me the money." He said, "I don't have a checkbook." I said, "Put two $20s in a folded sheet of paper and then put them in an envelope addressed to me."
While I was at the Apple Store, Art had gone to Comcast to turn in our equipment, since we'd decided on another carrier. When he picked me up, I told him about the conversation I'd had with Dimitri. I asked him how his experience in the Comcast waiting room had been. He said, "I had to wait about 15 minutes. The Mariners game was on. It was the third inning." Then he told me about every play that had happened in the game while he sat there waiting. No conversations for him!
On Saturday, the money arrived. $40 in a folded sheet of paper, in an envelope addressed to me, from Dimitri in Everett.
Last weekend Art and I were having dinner on our back deck and he was telling me a story. Art uses many pronouns and, try as I might, I sometimes don't know who he's referring to. So I'll say something like "Who is 'they'?" or "Who is 'he'?" In his mind Art is perfectly clear as to who he's talking about, so he sometimes gets impatient with me. He says I'm an English major (true that) and just trying to correct his grammar (not true that, but his perception).
Anyway, he said, "My friend Bob didn't like his daughter's boyfriend. So Bob asked another man, a friend down on his luck, to live at Bob's house in the hopes that Bob's daughter would meet him and then end her relationship with her boyfriend. Eventually he married her."
Long silence while I tried to figure out who "he" was in that last sentence. Finally I had to ask.
Art rolled his eyes. Then he reached for the salt shaker. "This is the girlfriend." The pepper shaker. "This is her boyfriend." A fork. "This is the friend down on his luck."
"So who married Bob's daughter?"