My Race Against the S.L.U.T.

Do I have time for coffee?

My battle to best the machine started with breakfast. I figured some high-protein, extra-organic Kashi cereal would do the trick. Belly full and lucky socks on, I set out to race the South Lake Union Trolley. The first challenge was finding the damn thing. The persistent drizzle on this very typical December Seattle morning severely hindered my S.L.U.T.-sniffing skills. I padded anxiously between Westlake and Terry avenues trying to get a glimpse of one of the crayon-colored cars. Just then, the purple trolley came around the corner, stopping at the Group Health station on Terry and Thomas. Game on. I figured I'd first attempt to outwalk the S.L.U.T. Sure it tops out at 20 miles per hour, but I had rush-hour traffic and red lights on my side. I gave a nod to the driver and the S.L.U.T. took off, promptly leaving me in the dust. But I persisted and caught up to the trolley after a few blocks. "How do you like that, you Czech-made pile of tin!" I sneered. Green light and we're off again; but this time, as the S.L.U.T. reached Lake Union and took a right on Fairview Avenue, pretty soon all I could see were the S.L.U.T.'s mocking red taillights. S.L.U.T. 1, Curl 0. Fair enough. My shins burning from the awkward motion of speed-walking, I cut my losses and prepared for the main event. "OK, S.L.U.T., show me what you've really got," I chided as she switched directions for the return trip. I did a few quick calisthenics and comforted myself with my running cred: Hood to Coast relay, Cherry Blossom 10-miler, Bay to Breakers. A mere 1.3 mile sprint to Westlake Center? Piece of cake. I was pondering whether I'd have time for a coffee break when the S.L.U.T. came back—and she wasn't messing around. The purple car glided past me (and this other kid who was trying to get on) and headed for the southern tip of Lake Union. I set off at a good clip, weighed down by my rain coat and a camera I'd been handing to unsuspecting passers-by to help record the effort. I kept within a block of the trolley, and even pulled ahead while she stopped at the corner of Fairview and Westlake, but it was all over when the S.L.U.T. headed for the homestretch. She passed me with a patronizing "ding-ding" and didn't look back. I picked up the pace, but couldn't buy a red light. And as anyone's who's hoofed it up Westlake can attest, it ain't flat. By the time I reached the station on Westlake and Seventh Avenue, the S.L.U.T. was smirking at the end of the line—about three blocks away. And she wasn't the only one who was purple. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I thought, before hopping aboard for the free ride back.

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