Picture 1 09-50-39


The NightWatch crew has just arrived. They have their tickets and directions, and are fanning out to the various shelters they’ve been assigned for the evening. “Next stop is Eighth Avenue,” I tell them and everyone else. “By the library.”

“I didn’t know there was a library here!” one of them says.
“Yeah, it’s just to the left. Real small, but it has a bathroom, a bunch a books,”
“It has a bathroom!” he laughs.
“You know, the essentials!”

They continue talking amongst themselves, and I listen, smiling to myself. Their conversation didn’t have high-minded literacy of the exchange below, but more than made up for it with its easy humor.

“That one’s real small.”
“Oh, it’s tiny.”
“Just a room, basically. And it’s dead quiet in there. You can’t even fart. If you fart, you gotta turn around and run out, ’cause everyone’ll know it was you.”
“Well, shoot.”
“It’s a small library, it’s not a real library.”
“They got like three computers,”
“Capitol Hill has a real library, right?”
“You can’t watch porn. It’s just too damn quiet. Hell, you can’t even talk.  You can’t watch porn, and you can’t talk.”
“Hey, did you ever run a background check on yourself? Did you know you can run a background check on yourself?”
“It’s crazy, the stuff you learn. I just ran a background check on myself. I wasn’t aware I’ve been arrested twice.”
“That’s ’cause you were drunk!”
“I don’t drink.”
“That’s all the more proof that you do drink, ’cause you can’t remember!”
“Apparently. Didn’t know I’ve been arrested three times.”
“I thought it was two times! You really are drunk!”
“Get outta here!”

Article Author

Nathan Vass is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, and author by day, and a Metro bus driver by night, where his community-building work has been showcased on TED, NPR, The Seattle Times, KING 5 and landed him a spot on Seattle Magazine’s 2018 list of the 35 Most Influential People in Seattle. He has shown in over forty photography shows is also the director of nine films, six of which have shown at festivals, and one of which premiered at Henry Art Gallery. His book, The Lines That Make Us, is a Seattle bestseller and 2019 WA State Book Awards finalist.