Do you ever see something disturbing enough that you just kind of casually stare at it? Just kind of keep turning your head to follow because your brain won’t process anything else because it can’t figure out what you just saw?
I used to work up at a coffee/sandwich shop up on Alki Beach in Seattle. Management called it a bakery, but we didn’t bake anything there. We sold bakery stuff, but that was all baked at another location. We heated cookies and cinnamon rolls, but even those were put together somewhere else.
Anyway, this was toward the end of summer. The place got pretty slammed during the summer time, but as the weather cooled down on into fall things got slow. We’d have fewer and fewer people on staff as things got even cooler on into winter, but for a while at the end of summer we’d often have too many people on and just end up standing around, staring.
This evening in particular I was standing up at the front counter with a girl who was working. It was a little past dinner time, but the sun was still up. Both me and the girl were just vacantly staring out the huge bay windows out at the water.
As we were looking out at the water, this giant black submarine with a huge red crossed hammer and sickle crossed in front of our vision. Just huge and black/red and menacing. Fully surfaced, gliding along in the bay/sound. Our eyes got wider and we continued to stare, unable to deal with what we were seeing, out heads slowly tracking the movement of the submarine.
For me, this was worrisome. I mean, sure, the Soviet Union was on the way out. The Berlin Wall had fallen. But, maybe all that was just a communist trick. They were finally invading. I’d seen Red Dawn. I knew about those things. The girl I was with was a bit young to have seen that movie or remember the red menace, but she looked as concerned.
“That’s a Russian submarine,” I said. “It is,” she replied. “It isn’t supposed to be there, is it?” “No,” she responded. “It isn’t.”
We kept watching for a while. The submarine kept right on trucking toward the waterfront. If there was an invasion we weren’t going to be much good in doing anything about it.
As it turns out, it was a Russian sub on the way to be put on installation for Americans to come and look at. Some cultural exchange. Good thing too. They could have blown up the whole downtown with torpedos for all me and that girl were able to do to stop them. Our brains just couldn’t seem to take in what we saw and come up with any kind of reaction.