Deep in the bowels of one of the many drawbridges of Seattle (I shall not say which one), lies a dungeon-like room that is dark, damp, and empty except for three folding chairs. I don’t know why the chairs are there, but I must confess that whenever I enter that room I get the feeling that I’m not alone.
It probably doesn’t help that the cavernous room just next to it is always full of eerie classical music so as to keep the pigeons from roosting there and pooping on the girders. (We do that on every bridge with mixed results. Some birds are apparently music lovers.) Shades of Phantom of the Opera. And going from a huge room to a tiny one with very low ceilings makes it seem all the more claustrophobic. The lock on the door that you have to struggle with to unlatch and the yellowed, humming, old fashioned fluorescent lights that pause for an eternity before coming on definitely add to the other-worldly ambience as well.
Even though I don’t feel like I’m alone down there, I usually am alone in the corporeal sense, so that makes it all the creepier. But I have to go there whenever I work on that particular drawbridge. It’s part of the job. No exceptions just because the hair on the back of my neck stands up.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t get a sense of evil down there. I don’t think anyone or anything means me harm except for the occasional rat. What I get is a profound sense of sadness, depression, confusion and loneliness. It feels as if someone has been sitting by himself in one of those chairs, alone in the dark and damp, for a long, long time.
Knowing that this creepy little room is going to be a part of my life for years to come, I decided to confront it, even though I did feel slightly silly. My coworkers, if they ever read this, will never let me live it down. Nevertheless I went in there, closed the door and said, “Look, I’m sorry you’re so sad. You don’t have to be if you can find the light and go toward it. This is not a good place for you to hang out. But I wanted to tell you that I mean you no harm. I have to come here sometimes for my job. Sorry if I disturb you. I’ll try not to bother you whenever that’s possible. I do wish you well.”
I wish I could say that that little speech made me feel better in that room, but no. It still gives me the chills. But at least I put that out there, just in case someone really is listening.
I’m amazed that when I took this picture, it wasn’t full of orbs.