This morning I followed my usual routine as we arrived in Seattle. I waited until the crowd had thinned a little and exited the ferry. I made my way to the McDonalds at the end of the terminal, and caught the eye of the manager who always runs the register at that time of the morning: “One egg and cheese biscuit, please.” It is my only line of the morning, and I have it down. The manager already knows my request, since I never vary my breakfast selection, but so far he hasn’t felt it desirable to pre-fill my order. “One dollar and fifty-two cents,” he tells me. Today I gave him $2.05 just to spice it up a little … he made the proper change without the flicker of an eyelid.
After waiting for the signal to cross Alaskan Way, I scurry across the road and stand under the viaduct (I think that is what they call it) next to my usual pillar and devour my biscuit, dropping crumbs and usually finishing before my shuttle arrives.
Today I noticed a little Subaru parked in the spot where my shuttle generally stops to pick us up. A thirty-something man with long hair and a large diaper bag was talking with the driver of the Subaru, a petite woman in business clothes. She eventually rounded the car to help a little girl (perhaps three years old) out of her carseat. She entrusted the little girl into the arms of the man, who walked across the street and into the ferry terminal. The little girl, facing back toward the woman, held out her arms and cried pitifully as long as they were in view.
I’m guessing that I was privy to one of those ugly little scenes that spring up in the aftermath of a divorce. The man was clearly not the primary caretaker of the little girl, yet he was obviously taking charge of her for an extended period of time. It made me very sad, to think of the life that this girl will lead, routinely torn between two people who couldn’t or wouldn’t get along.
It took the man several minutes to cross Alaskan Way and ride the elevator to the upper level of the terminal. I think the saddest part of the whole scene was the way that the woman watched and watched. She waited, oblivious to the rush of traffic, until they had come out of the elevator on the upper level and were entirely out of sight; the man and little girl did not seem aware of her scrutiny. Her hands on the steering wheel as she finally drove away were empty of a ring, and her face wore a sad, and strangely guilty expression.
I don’t think I’ll ever understand how people who have children can permanently separate. I wish I had taken a video of that little scene, and could make it required viewing for anyone filing for divorce. I think I’d rather die than have to go through what that woman probably experiences every week.