Sunday, July 30, 2006

Drama of a Change Agent

You have no idea how important my job is. I am a “change agent” of major progress and growth in Seattle. It’s an amazingly complex and significant responsibility; it’s awe-inspiring (and a bit over-whelming at times) when I realize that change couldn’t happen without me. The burden I feel is incredible, but I’m proud to bear this enormous and vital role. I stand straight and tall, without waiver and without any of the stress I carry showing on my face. Everyday, I am here, never missing a beat, sturdy, the bearer of good news. I am the “Proposed Land Use Action” sign.

I am done just right, in classic white background with clear bold black letters. Did you know that there’s going to be two (count them – TWO) 32 story buildings going in right behind me? “640 residential units. 34,200 square feet of retail. parking for 1,063 vehicles. Existing structure to be demolished.” You would know this if you paid attention and read the words I hold. This is important. Everything you need to know is right here, so clearly displayed. “Comment period ends 7/26/06, but may be extended to 8/9/06. Email PRC@SEATTLE.GOV.” Master Use Project #3004231. Applicant Terry McCain, phone #425-462-6400”. It’s all here, addresses, diagrams, the whole works, very tasteful and understated, as it should be. Nothing about me is blaring and obnoxious; I am a classic sign and I wear that label proudly.

Not like those pink signs across the way. My goodness, the bright colors and flashing neon just wears on the senses. The smaller pink elephant always stays facing the same way, which at least shows some small amount of good taste, even though it’s always flashing, blue and white and pink, day and night. Don’t they know that there should be darkness some of the time? I don’t have harsh and bright lights shining on me at all hours of the day and nights. So much color and brightness, it’s just too much…. If only I could look away, but, hey, I’m a sign and there are certain limits to what I can and cannot do….

The other pink elephant sign, well, that’s just a tasteless wonder. With the colors and shapes – neither of the Sign are even rectangles; what where they thinking? But the larger one, it doesn’t even have the good sense to stay still. No, it rotates and shows me all sides of itself. Constantly moving, sometimes I see the narrow ends, like it almost disappears. Then I see the other side, like this is important. Tell me something that I don’t already know. Backs of signs are not meant to be seen. My goodness, my back side is very classic. No paint, no frou-frou, just plain wooden back, with a stripe of black letters – CANADA and LTD, what ever that means. It still has the bar-coded sticker giving my size. I’m still a 4’ x 7’ and don’t I look fine? It takes effort and self-control to remain in this good of shape at my age, you know.

Across the way is a round sign, “Antioch – Founded 1852”. It lights up, which is less than tactful, but at least it doesn’t spin! Some the signs near by, like the Antioch sign have buildings attached. The Group Health sign across the other street is backed by a brown and tan building. But by and large, the majority of the signs in my sight hang off of poles of green, grey, and silver, an appropriate support for a Sign. Buildings are acceptable, but only when they blend and recede, leaving the Sign to stand out in importance, as it should.

There’s a Sign between the Antioch Sign and the Group Health Sign that’s Monthly Parking. Now this is a fine Sign. It still lights up and I try hard not to shudder at that, but everyone has a flaw or two, I suppose. But it classically done – white background, black letters (which only a touch of red); just a few letters “Monday Parking Available Call 381-1789”. Very simple. Not as much information as I contain, but, well, we can’t all be as detailed and thorough as I am, you know.
There are several One Way Signs, classic black and white, with arrows pointing all different directions. Clearly these human beings in their infernal noise-and-stink machines don’t actually pay attention to the importance and vital information we proudly display, because they’ll come out of the silly pink spinning sign building and go the opposite way of the arrow. Pay attention, people! One small One Way Sign has been jostled and bumped out of place and now the arrow points slightly to the ground. How sad. How sad to be uncared for and left to have your pointer a bit off.

I watch these other schizophrenic signs and I’m a little concerned. Are they dangerous? Are they well? They are always changing color, back and forth, between white and orange. And the orange sometimes blinks and sometimes is steady. Then it swaps again and becomes this white creature. It sort of reminds me of the human beings that go by, but the shape isn’t exactly right. In the Sign, the creature has both arms down. All the human beings I see have one arm up to their ear and they are always talking. I guess it’s comforting or something to hold your ear and talk to yourself if you’re a human being. It seems odd to me, but they all do it; it must be a ritual or how they are created or something.

There’s a parking lot behind me and it’s been pretty empty for the longest while. It’s the Tetro ZinZanni place. It’s sad to know that these “Tetro ZinZanni Dinner and Dreams” signs will eventually be gone. The red-haired lady with bright pink hat and dress and I have become close friends over the time we’ve hung out together. I don’t know if she fully realizes “the existing structure to be demolished” means her. I’m pretty sure she can’t see the front of me to read her fate, and I’m certainly not going to tell her. Life is hard enough when you are a sign, buffeted in the wind and rain, baked in the sun, and alone in the dark. Always here, steadfast and sure, a steady reminder of where you are and what to do.

I’ve been here quite a while, and lately the parking lot behind me has picked up activity level. As I mentioned, it was pretty empty for a long time, but now trucks are coming and going. Wires and boards and chain-link fence pieces are starting to arrive. Tractors and bull-dozers sit on trailers, big wheels just sitting. I don’t get many visitors who come and admire me and take in all I have to offer. But once the trucks and such started showing up, a few more human beings where dropping by and studying the diagrams I hold, ever dependable and ready with information.

Hmm, it’s so odd; I just don’t understand. There are a couple of human beings coming up behind me, with large hammers and crow bars. I wonder what they’re for? These human beings are such an odd species, always going somewhere, doing something, carrying stuff. Never standing still and taking in all that’s around them; I can’t imagine a life so full of movement and action. They’re headed my way; I wonderful if they’ll stop by and admire my shape and words. I’ll stretch and stand up a bit extra straight just in case…. What? They stopped behind me; very rarely does any one stop behind me and I find it unsettling when they do. I remember once, this curly headed human being stood there with her tablet, writing down notes like crazy, but that was a long time ago, until these two showed up now. What are they doing? They are swinging their hammers and pounding on me! What the heck!? I don’t understand! Hey, wait! What’s going on!? Don’t you want t…

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