Weird Sunday

this story originally started as a post on a bulletin board, and as such should be read with the mindset that you're reading it while in a specific "room" (i.e. discussion group, forum, whatever you want to call it) on a specific bulletin board system. so this is all a very first person, stream of consciousness sort of story. The story takes place in the area around the University of Washington, in Seattle.

Actually, it has to count for Monday since it was after midnight but it was subjectively still Sunday. Anyway.

It all started when I logged on (silly me) to read bb (this one) before going to bed. I read a post in another room which really upset and frustrated me. It shouldn't have, but it did. I can't help it; emotions aren't supposed to make sense. I logged off to brush my teeth and go to bed. I was so upset, though, that I couldn't even brush my teeth properly. After nearly gashing the hell out of my gums with the toothbrush (which, thankfully, I didn't), I got frustrated and broke my toothbrush. This was not shaping up to be a good night. I went to bed. No big surprise, I couldn't sleep. After 45 minutes or so of thrashing around not getting any sleepier, I decided to get up. So I did.

I got dressed, put my coat on, and went out for a walk to try and calm down and figure out some things about why that post got me so upset. I ended up walking East on the Burke-Gilman trail.. I walked for about half an hour, a couple of miles at least, moping and thinking and half wishing I'd get mugged. I didn't. Then I came upon something completely unexpected. There was a good sized black purse lying right there on the trail. It was tipped over and open, with its contents scattered vigorously over the trail, as if someone had dropped it while going fast. I stopped, and looked around for muggers. I didn't see any.

So I started putting everything I could find back into the purse, trying not to examine the things too closely, since after all they weren't mine. I did a pretty good job at that, because it was very dark, and to be frank my night vision sucks. There was some loose change and a large day-planner type book. There was a smaller book that could have been a diary, or maybe an addressbook. There was a set of keys, a couple of cosmetic thingies (I don't know what they were exactly, but afterwards my hands smelled like rouge). There was an ATM card, and a driver's license. that I looked at. Who did this stuff belong to? The face was familiar, as if maybe the owner had lived in the dorms at the same time I did. The name, Mitzy Morrow, however, was completely unfamiliar. I kept picking things up. There were an inordinate number of ATM receipts, stuck down to the asphalt due to the rain. Also I found a lot of uncashed checks for small amounts. Strange. I stuffed it all in the purse. I had trouble getting it all in there; I wondered how mitzy managed to keep all that stuff in her purse.

I decided that I should be a good citizen and note as much detail as I could about the place, then take the purse to the university police station. After determining where on the trail I was (near 40th ave and 50th st.), I started walking back. Who was this Mitzy person? Why was her purse lying exploded on the trail? Why hadn't the one person on a bike who passed me earlier stopped to do anything about it?

I've never been to the UW police station before, and didn't know exactly where it was. Somewhere near the ACC, that much I knew. When I passed the Safeway near U. Village I climbed down the embankment on which the trail is to go find a phone book to look up the police station's address, because I didn't really want to be wandering around aimlessly on Boat Street in the middle of the night carrying a purse that didn't belong to me. What had happened to Mitzy? Had she been attacked? Was she alright? Would she be glad to get her purse back? Why was she carrying all those uncashed checks? I found a phone book, but it was just the yellow pages and I couldn't find the cops' address anywhere in it. I found their number, though. I guess you're just supposed to call. They weren't listed by address under "police" or "university police" or anything I could think of.

So I walked along the road until I got back to the trail, near the back entrance to campus, the one on 25th. Then I walked to the ACC. On the way, I saw no less than three police cars drive by. I considered waving one of them down but didn't. Maybe someone just snatched her purse, took the cash, and dumped it on the trail. Would she be ok without her keys, her d.l., her cash card? It was the middle of the night. What if she couldn't get back into her house? So I stopped at the ACC, because I always stop at the ACC and because I wanted to try and find the address in the white pages. The white pages didn't have it either. Fortunately, my friend Aaron who was at the ACC late doing cs homework knew where it was. I was only slightly chagrined to find that it is literally within view of the back door of the ACC.

So I walked to the police station, and used their little red after-hours phone to call someone since the door was locked. A nice policeman came and let me in. I gave him the purse. He set it down on the table and wasn't nearly so shy about examining its contents as I. Mitzy's business card indicated that she is a hair stylist. At least that explained the checks. He asked me my name, my phone number, and where I'd found it. I told him, in as much detail as he seemed to want, which wasn't much. He said they'd give Mitzy a call and get her purse back to her. He said that these things are usually just theft situations, no real foul play involved.

I hope he was right. I hope Mitzy didn't spend the night cold and miserable somewhere without a place to sleep. I hope she has her purse back, and I hope I found everything important from it that was strewn on the trail.

So I went back to the ACC. It was on the way home and I always stop at the ACC. Aaron was still there. I logged on to post about all this, but the bb server was down. Oh well. after determining that I had no new mail, couldn't read bb, and after catching up on my newsgroups, I left. Aaron was done with his homework, and he was walking more or less the same was I was, so we left.

As we walked, I told him the story that you've just read. Coincidentally, he lives extremely near to where I found the purse. We walked along, and ended up talking a lot about what it was about that post that got me so upset, and why that was and what I was going to do about it and all that sort of things. Aaron is a good guy, and a good friend. Sometimes he gets on my nerves, but that's my problem and i wouldn't ask him to change. Eventually our respective paths home diverged.

I got home at nearly four in the morning, almost exactly three hours after I left. I went back to bed, considerably calmer, and considerably more tired.

I never know what to expect from the universe. I find it somewhat ironic that all the negative emotions which made me leave the house in the middle of the night caused me to end up thinking about someone else instead of myself and to do a good deed for that person. I doubt I'll ever see this mitzy person, and I doubt I'll ever learn what happened to her that night. But that's ok.

I'm still somewhat upset about that post, but I got a new toothbrush today and I doubt that I'll break it.



The Academic Computer Center at the University of Washington. In the good old days, this was computer mecca for any and all UW computer nerds. It is the big, ugly, poorly air conditioned concrete building that used to house all the UW's mainframes and its terminal room. This building used to house punched card terminals and CDC Cyber mainframes back in the 70's (actually, the last Cyber didn't go off line at the UW until the early 90's).

The ACC was the sort of unavoidable place that you would be drawn to like a moth to a flame if you're a UW computer nerd. It used to be a fairly social place with horrible z19 terminals, ancient PC's, etc. You could go there any time of day or night, 7 days a week, and find congeneal hackers focused on their code, game players absorbed in nethack, moria, or conquest, and the less pleasant type of sleazy computer person who would rather intellectually copulate with the machine than go home and take a shower.

Now with the incredible proliferation of computers all over the place, the ACC's importance as a computing center per se is substantially less than it used to be. However, the old gang still looks back on it with fond memories of friends, good code, and good times.


Literally, "Bulletin Board". The name of a bulletin board system that originated on University of Washington computers in the early 1990's. The bulletin board was a happenin' social place for us computer nerd types at the UW. The board itself still exists at the UW, but it is very lame now, being mostly inhabited by net newbies who tend to annoy those of us who have been around for a while.

Now bb has moved to Omnigroup, a local software company started by the very same folks who wrote the original bb software. All the cool people from the old bb use the new one now.

I know "bb" is an acronym and should be capitalized, but that's just wrong because "bb" was the command we used to access it from the UW computers. And since they were unix machines, the command was properly typed in lowercase. Anything else just looks wrong to me.

Burke-Gilman Trail

The Burke-Gilman trail, known as "the trail", is an asphalt biking/riding trail that runs around a good portion of the perimiter of Lake Washington in Seattle. From most places you can't actually see the lake itself, but you're never far from it.

U. Village

The University Village, or U. Village, is an open-mall type shopping center near to the University of Washington.

Boat Street

Boat Street is a sort of dark street adjacent to the piece of water which connects Lake Washington to Union Bay in Seattle. It's sort of got that run-down industrial look to it, and makes me kind of nervous late at night. It's just south of the ACC.