My wife and I made our way into the downtown core of Seattle for a little holiday cheer Saturday night. We arrived behind the rest of Seattle, apparently. We approached our normal, comfortable, clean and heated garage to find it full, leaving us only one option: The Stalingrad Garage.
The difference between the garages couldn’t have been more stark, like crossing Checkpoint Charlie in a once divided Berlin into the Soviet sector, and therefore East Germany. This garage has a battle worn quality to it, much like the Volgograd Tractor Factory; the scene of fierce fighting between the Germans and the Red Army about this time in 1942.
No nicely finished concrete on the walls and surfaces, instead exposed brick and mortar. Someone had cut grooves into the driving surfaces to ensure that when the snow blew through the open to the air apertures where perhaps once windows protected the interior, the cars would not slide down the remarkably steep ramps between floors on the ice which will inevitably form.
There is no elevator. Instead concrete stairs with an ice cold steel hand rail is the only way out. The lawyers eye notes this cannot possibly be to code. Upon leaving we pay a self service machine, like in an open parking lot down on the waterfront. Like Stalingrad, the garage is cold, terribly cold.
I notice a man standing near a ramp that appears to descend below the street level. There are no invitations for the public to go there. Is he the “attendant”? Or is he the “assailant”?
Starting this Christmas tradition in this garage was as absurd as the sculpture of the children dancing in the city of Stalingrad, photographed during the battle. But like few of the soldiers in 1942, we survived it and are hardened by the experience.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all better parking.