Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wanna build a fort?

As I found out a year and a half ago or so, the answer to that question is always yes.  I was living with my boss, the lovely and super smart beauty queen Rachelle.  She was telling me about her son, Alex.  That he was super funny and was nearly as immature as I was which sounded about right since he was fifteen and I was thirty.  She told me about this time at Subway when there was this bearded guy minding his p's and q's and Good ol' Alex asked if he could be the guy's padawan learner.  I respected that.  A lot.  When I was at TJ Max with Rachelle one time, I picked up a gnarled piece of drift wood and said, "Manmortigan...".  You know, like Willow?  With Val Kilmer and Warwick Davis?  Anyway, it was about that time that she compared her son and myself in earnest.

So I finally got to meet Alex at the job site.  The witch doctor, as it were.  We weren't particularly busy and the kid was there.  So we were just having some fun.  I was thinking of something we could do.  Apart from making a show about the office I suggested, "Wanna make a fort?"  He just stood up, as if to say, "Duh".

Now that we're current on the readiness  that all Americans should maintain when it comes to forts, I'll get to it.  I was walking back from lunch the other day.  I took an alternate route, which included a jaunt under a bridge.  Lo and behold...Forts.

It was like a little neighborhood of juvenile sensibility.  If someone dropped their kids and nieces and nephews off under a bridge where there was a ready supply of cardboard and pallets, this is probably what you'd find.  There was a tent on an elevated and rustic pallet platform.  It really had the effect of a Southern California manse, but without the pretentiousness of square footage.  Just a three person tent sitting on four pallets.  Awesome.

The more post modern, art deco piece was a wonderland of cardboard and cardboard.  It had an inviting entrance about the size of a moderate to large sized doggy door with the columns of the bridge acting as pillars.  Really a powerful effect, that.  Just like 4 refrigerator boxes and a few vintage, tube television packages to sell the intricate network of wood pulp and discarded packaging tape.

Then I realized I was looking at this through the prism of adolescent fort building.  Ya, if I were nine and whipped one of these things up, it might have been cool.  But if I were twelve, and were in the midst of enduring a frigid Seattle winter, I would for sure make a better fort than that.  How do you not have three full rolls of duct tape sealing the fridge boxes together?    Or maybe some type of buttressing for that sagging roof?  How about putting the pallets on top with a tarp over it or something so your cardboard doesn't get all soggy and worthless?

It occurred to me that this little Robinson Crusoe Redux wasn't all fun and games.  It was a clear picture of the homeless in Seattle being somewhat lacking in some rudimentary life skills.  I'm saying it could be cool to camp out under a bridge.  But you gotta do it right.  One of the guys left his Samsonite luggage outside on the veranda.  Come on man.  What?  Do you have more than three transients in there?  Can't fit the rolling luggage?

The conclusion, then, is that the problem of homelessness is far more complex than "no job".  I'm not suggesting I know what came first.  Whether the psychosis or the dredges is beyond me.  But at this point there is a serious problem.  The type of fort you build as a homeless person is a direct reflection on your character.  It's like a car for low to mid level earners or an actual house for mid to high earners. Or maybe more like the kind of wife you end up with.  You just gotta put a little more into it than that.

It almost makes me want to go cardboard flap to cardboard flap and charge these guys to build em a proper fort.  I know Alex and I could whip up some pretty intense forts.  Maybe they could even get box car Betty over there for a little date.  Who knows?  It was just sad to see such a promising premise come crashing down on me with the harsh reality of indifference.

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