The other SLU

Most of what I’ve posted so far has been about the majoritarian South Lake Union: the one that Vulcan is advertising, the one the city is discussing rezoning for taller buildings, etc. However, we all know the minor SLU — Cascade, even — still exists, and I just came across this excellent account of it from the last day of 2008, by Jack Golightly:


by Jack Golightly

The sun slowly creeps over the parking lot and leaks onto the patio. Sleepy shelter women get up, some with complaint, some without. Lights are turned on. Smells of bacon and eggs waft around the building while the night shift RCs [Residential Counselors] make coffee. Yesterday there was only cold cereal for breakfast. Women procrastinate getting on the van for the ride back downtown to Angeline’s. Day shift arrives and things get jovial. The TV comes on; a resident plants flowers outside; plans are made behind the scenes to strategize and move in an unsuspecting outreach client. Music is played. Jokes are made. Cooking tests are performed. Toilets are plugged. Residents are congratulated on coming to staff before the flood takes over the front office. Toilets are unplugged. Floors are cleaned. Front desk staff say hey to everyone. The room is bright. The sun warms people up till the swing shift rolls in and things get different-busy. The community room is transformed into a dinner area. Walker, Texas Ranger is turned off in lieu of the X-Files. Residents bring strange things through the door to decorate their apartments. Beer gets dumped out. Someone unsuccessfully sneaks up the elevator. The fire alarm goes off. Someone was drying their clothes in the oven again. Someone gets a lesson about using the dryer. Dinner is served. The shelter is opened again. Residents file around getting meds and joking with the RCs. The van is driven downtown to pick up tonight’s shelter guests. The van’s light is out. A work order regarding the van’s light is filed, and hey, since we’re at it, the van is also out of windshield washer fluid. On the way back from the Women’s [Shelter] Referral Center with 12 or so ladies the radio is on. Someone sings. Someone opens the window. Someone says something bizarre and the driver smiles quietly. The women roll out the door. The women enter the shelter and find their beds. Linens fly around in organized confusion. There’s leftover juice in the community room, hey, and Soul Train comes on at midnight. A few residents hang in the office listening to music with the RCs.  A would-be illegal entrant is un-snuck out of the building. Lights go off in the shelter. The RCs are sorry that people snore next to you but try to ignore it. Night owls are out talking, relaxing in the office and the smoking room. Smokes are given out due to the good mood. Scrabble is played at the corner table. Night shift rolls in. They monitor the peace, talk to the insomniacs, get ready to make breakfast and watch the place. It is secure. A mini-counseling session breaks out in the office with the relapsed clean and sober resident. Community abounds. The sun slowly creeps over the parking lot. Repeat.

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