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Friday, November 16, 2007

Assignment : Hand Out Bottled Water to Green Lake Joggers

posted by on November 16 at 13:05 PM


On a gray and cold Wednesday afternoon, I decided to go to Green Lake and support intrepid joggers with bottles of water and free entertainment. I slipped on red booty shorts, a pink tank top and white orthopedic shoes I’d bought for a Richard Simmons Halloween costume and brought along an old boom box loaded with all the disco songs I could find on my friend’s IPod. I also brought a roll of white streamer paper people could tear through and feel as if they’d just reached the finish line of a marathon.

My friend Tristan helped me set up the finish line near Green Lake Stadium. It felt vaguely illegal tying a weak barrier across the congested path, but I figured I could lower the finish line with my hand if someone was trying to break a jogging record and didn’t want to slow down their time by tearing through the streamer. I lifted the streamer up from the ground and a jogger quickly tore through it. Then, while he was running, he turned his head back and glared at me intensely. This was the moment I realized I might die wearing a bad Richard Simmons costume.


I turned to my friend with a pained expression on my face. In order for people to enjoy running through the finish line, we’d have to prepare them for it. I grabbed the streamer and yelled at the next jogger, “Would you like to run through this? Like in a race?” The woman was wearing headphones and she ignored me. She ran through the streamer like it was something that was always there. She didn’t even flinch. I retied the streamer to the pole. Another jogger came running by and I asked her the same question. She stopped, took the headphones out of her ears and said, “excuse me?” I asked her, “Would you like to run through this streamer? Like you’ve reached the end of a race?” She shook her head no, and carefully climbed over the streamer. “Yay,” I said. “You did it.”

By this time there was a large pile of discarded streamers on the side of the path and I was concerned I would receive some sort of trash violation. Besides, the finish line was supposed to be fun, and people did not understand the joke. I threw out the streamers and began passing out water to people. I offered water to a middle-aged couple and they politely refused. The next couple saw the first couple refuse, and also refused the water I’d bought for them. Finally, a woman took a water bottle. “It’s not poison,” I joked. She didn’t laugh. I watched her as she passed by the trash cans to make sure she didn’t throw out the bottle. Another disco hit by Ashford and Simpson began to play on my speakers and I readjusted my sweatband so that the dangling parts weren’t right in front of my eyes. Why weren’t people accepting free bottles of water from me?

The sky began to darken and rain trickled down into my headband. I still had about twenty bottles of water to pass out. That’s when a gray-bearded man wearing a Raccoon hat and walking a fully-clothed dog tapped me on the shoulder. “Could I have a bottle of water?” he asked me and shot me a huge grin. “Sure!” I replied, thankful someone was expressing interest in my assignment. “You know, I love what you’re doing here,” he said to me. “I’ve lived a lot of places and I’ve traveled to over seventy-five countries. I’ve taught English, Psychology, History and Political Science. I’m a gay man and I love life. Just love it. I’ve been very blessed…” I waited for him to say “And I’ve never seen such amazing generosity in Seattle, never before have I been greeted with such kindness,” but he didn’t. He just went on and on about his life. I felt like he was reading me a scripted monologue he’d been tweaking in his head for the past fifty years.


In the end, I passed out about thirty water bottles, mostly to joggers, mostly younger folk. And I didn’t get beat up for wearing the gayest outfit Green Lake has ever seen.

Steven Blum
Public Intern


RSS icon Comments


I take back the mean comment after the cake feeding series.

F-ing great!

Posted by Lake | November 16, 2007 1:08 PM

I heart public intern.

Posted by Rotten666 | November 16, 2007 1:09 PM

I suppose that if San Francisco is too far to come to bring me cake, it's too far to come to bring me water too, eh?

Posted by Paul Barwick in SF | November 16, 2007 1:17 PM

That's awesome. You should have been there when we gave away hors d'oeuvre in the bus tunnel a few years back, same tepid reception...

Posted by NaFun | November 16, 2007 1:21 PM

Public Intern, you should go to Seattle Frontrunners Saturday morning for gayer attire than what you were wearing. AND they also have lots of attitude and general snobbiness to go with it.

Posted by New Deal Demoncrat | November 16, 2007 1:27 PM

The world needs more people like you.

Posted by sprizee | November 16, 2007 1:27 PM

Hey Public Intern, I met you last weekend when you were out with a friend of mine Will... what ever happened to that assignment? Did I miss reading it? There were pictures taken, and was wondering if you could post the link to the article?

Posted by Adam | November 16, 2007 1:36 PM

good job. you get an award, but html code doesn't work here so i can't show it to you. But know that you got it.

Posted by Jake Salvador | November 16, 2007 1:47 PM

Public Intern is beginning to scare me.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | November 16, 2007 1:50 PM

Bully for you young man! In these troubled times we could all use a little more guerilla theater to snap us out of our reverie. I salute your noble efforts!

Posted by pee dubya | November 16, 2007 2:02 PM

i think i just sent you three of the same emails on accident Public Intern sorry.

Posted by Jake Salvador | November 16, 2007 2:05 PM

Public intern or not, that is not the gayest outfit that Green Lake has ever seen.

That said, handing out bottled water is bad for global warming ... just sayin.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 16, 2007 2:06 PM

It is possible that this is not the gayest outfit ever. But it has to rank in the top 5, for sure. I think it just short circuited by gaydar.

Oh, and I *heart* Public Intern. Too funny.

Posted by SDA in SEA | November 16, 2007 2:37 PM

@12: "...handing out bottled water is bad for global warming ... " So,that means handing out bottled water is a good thing, right? I'm confused.

Posted by DaiBando | November 16, 2007 2:38 PM

Aw, I love Public Intern. ♥

Posted by Darcy | November 16, 2007 2:38 PM

bottled water is so NOT seattle.

haven't you got the message? bottled water bottles are KILLING THE PLANET.

Posted by max solomon | November 16, 2007 2:40 PM

exactly, hand out bottled water in Kirkland.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 16, 2007 3:29 PM

Nice headband, public intern.

Posted by David | November 16, 2007 3:31 PM

PI - do some PI work and learn that an older gay man shooting a huge grin when you're wearing what you are is not
"interest in [your] assignment" and the request for "bottled water" may mean he's thirsty...but it's for something else...brb, need to grab a "drink".

Posted by bottle = penis...water = well, you get it... | November 16, 2007 3:35 PM

oh, dear...did Savage pick out that outfit? he tries to get all the male interns to wear it.

Posted by michael strangeways | November 16, 2007 3:41 PM

My housemate wears essentially the same thing but without a shirt. It's gayer than yours, and he is "straight". I can also see your junk in that photo so it's like he standing right there next to that guy! With a shirt on.

Posted by Cookersie | November 16, 2007 4:35 PM

There is a nasty undercurrent of degradation in almost everything the Public Intern is asked to do. I think the Public Intern needs a Public Advocate.

Oh, if only there were an Ombudsman, someone with experience in workplace regulation on the Stranger's staff....

Posted by NapoleonXIV | November 16, 2007 4:36 PM

A. Birch Steen has resigned.

Posted by Fnarf | November 16, 2007 4:46 PM

and the world is a sadder place

Posted by gnossos | November 16, 2007 4:55 PM

Dang, we need the Public Intern to act as the Ombudsman for one issue.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 16, 2007 5:07 PM

How did you not get raped?

Posted by Gitai | November 16, 2007 5:22 PM

This sounds like an old Candid Camera gag.

Those yuppie joggers need to take those ramrods out of their asses and get a sense of humor.

Posted by RainMan | November 16, 2007 5:42 PM

Public Intern: still cute, still makes my day.

Posted by Mark | November 16, 2007 6:31 PM

I love the public intern! He is smart, cute, creative, and an excellent writer!I love that he had the nerve to do this. What a great idea, and what a great column.

Posted by pdxmama | November 17, 2007 5:52 PM

Once again, the Public Intern ROCKS! I think you should go to an aquasize group with a bunch of old ladies and have some fun! :)

Posted by Kristin Bell | November 18, 2007 3:45 PM

I f***ing love you, Public Intern!

Posted by greendyke | November 19, 2007 2:47 PM

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