The Dancing Man

The first time I saw the dancing man, he was standing beside my car. That made me uncomfortable, because drawbridges seem to draw an unusual number of characters, and as a bridgetender I can’t really leave the tower unattended simply because I fear for my paint job. So I had to stare helplessly out the tower window and hope for the best. In other words, it was my average day at work.

I used to wonder what it was about drawbridges that attract strange people. I’ve blogged about my unique encounters before. But my latest theory is that there’s nothing special about drawbridges. These people are everywhere. It’s just that I get to be a full-time observer of them here. I look at it as my own little sociological investigation of a cross section of humanity.

Anyway, back to the dancing man. I gave him that name because of what happened next. He went to the front driver’s side corner of my car and did what I can only describe as a ritualistic dance. The steps, while rudimentary, seemed full of purpose.

But this is Seattle, so people took note but continued to walk by, letting him do his own thing. Next, he moved to the front passenger side and did the same dance. He repeated the process until he got to all four corners, and then he walked away.

I was confused. I was mesmerized. I was a little charmed. But mostly I was relieved that no damage had been done to my car.

Since then, I’ve watched the dancing man perform this ritual on at least a half dozen occasions. I’m increasingly delighted every time. I’ve chosen to view it as some sort of blessing he is bestowing upon my vehicle. Maybe I’ve avoided an accident because of this magical love bubble that he’s placed on my car. Who knows?

Recently he stopped by to get his groove on during shift change, and I pointed him out to my coworker. “I just love that guy,” I said. Apparently, mine is the only car he interacts with, but he is still a regular fixture on other shifts.

My coworker said, “See that coat he’s wearing? I gave that to him. He was walking past and he looked like he needed one, and I had an extra.”

So there you have it. The one who bestows blessings had a completely unrelated blessing bestowed upon him. I really love how the universe works sometimes.


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I’m Freezing My Patooties Off, People!

Here I am, working graveyard shift on the drawbridge on the coldest night of the year so far. The tenderhouse is suspended 25 feet above the roadway and right in the center of the river for maximum wind chill. The floor is a steel plate with questionable insulation, so the cold radiates through my feet, past the badly healed broken bone, and right up to my ankles.

What’s more, the wind is howling like a banshee, and it feels as if there is no glass in the windows. Oh, but there is. I know, because I can see the frost that’s already starting to accumulate.

Days like this it’s hard to get out of bed, particularly since my two dogs give off such wonderful body heat. It’s like having two little space heaters snuggled up against me. This is the time of year when they really earn their keep. They’re probably still in bed as I write this, huddled under 6 layers of blankets, snoring contentedly while I freeze my a** off. I thought of them as I walked the 700 steps (believe me, I’ve counted) from my car to the tenderhouse, as the wind tried to rip off my hat and fling it into the river. The things I do to keep them in dog food!

Before I left the house, I had to let the dogs out to do their business. I put a coat on my Italian Greyhound. No, I’m not one of those people who delights in dressing my dogs up in humiliating little outfits. It’s just that when you have a dog with zero body fat and a very thin coat of hair, when the weather is this cold, if he’s not bundled up he’s likely to take two steps out the door, get a sense of the temperature, do an abrupt about-face and make his deposit on the living room carpet.

But, as usual, I digress.

The point of this entry, I suppose, was to illustrate the depth of my frigid misery so that I could bask in the warmth of your sympathy. I probably shouldn’t tell you at this point that I’m in Florida. But hey! It’s still going below freezing tonight with a wind chill factor of 22 degrees fahrenheit, so cut me a little slack.

And I’d also like to ask you a question, dear reader. What ARE patooties, anyway? And why don’t you ever hear of them in the singular? Oh, never mind. Just rest assured that I have, most definitely, frozen mine off.