Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Recession Queens

Daily Inter Lake | May 29, 2022 12:00 AM

The price of a gallon of gas went up more than a dime in a week’s time and with all the pervasive headlines — stock market plunges, tanking investment firms and inflation woes — I’m coming down with a case of deja vu.

In 2009, when my daughter Talia was going to college in Seattle and living in a dorm, my sister and I concocted a scheme (Actually, my sister Barb recollects the getaway was solely my idea and that I was the one who came up with our trio’s grandiose name) to rendezvous with her there over spring break, which required a flight for both of us — my sister from Ohio and me from Montana.

It was the middle of the Great Recession, aka the economic downtown, following the bursting of the housing bubble. Barb and I planned our vacation as frugally as possible, convincing Talia we could just stay in her dorm room over spring break (for free; squatters, basically) while her roommate was away. We justified taking up residence in the dorm by asserting that no one specifically said Talia couldn’t have her mother and aunt stay there.

So began a series of athletic, if alas, unproductive, eye rolling by Talia regarding her mom and aunt’s frugal ways.

Our first order of business upon showing up at her dorm, was a pedestrian trip to the neighborhood Trader Joe’s to pick up groceries for our five-day stay. It being a recession and all, we had to stick to a tight budget. That first night we cooked pasta with jarred sauce in the dorm lounge, added a bagged salad and chased it all down with a bottle of Trader Joe’s trademark Two Buck Chuck — the champion of cheap wine. Our entire stay Barb and I kept ourselves on the downlow in the dorm, should any personnel see us hanging around.

Talia showed us around campus, her classrooms, the chapel, and the impressive flame-like sculpture by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.

Spring break went by quickly as the three of us either took the city bus or walked everywhere we went — and that meant anywhere that was pretty much free. Of course, one can wile away hours roaming Pike Street Market picking up free culinary samples. We visited the iconic Seattle Public Library, marveling at the all-red fourth floor (known for the 13 shades of red covering its floor, ceiling and walls). Talia’s eyes rolled as Barb and I struck poster girl poses in the hallways.

We also toured the Seattle Art Museum (on First Free Thursday), splurging on lunch in its cafe, while Barb and I groused about the price for a sandwich and a bag of chips, and especially the $12 price tag on a glass of wine (which we declined), Talia’s eyes rolling in embarrassment all the while.

We wandered in and out of the downtown stores, and had clam chowder on the wharf at Ivar’s (lunch prices).

We rode the elevator up to the highest floor accessible to the public in the Columbia Center tower, at 76 floors the highest building in town. I think the highest floor accessible for free is the 42nd — still, higher than the Space Needle.

Talia also recalls the unsolicited, but wise advice — which will remain undisclosed here — I disseminated to her that week based on my own dubious experience in college.

I’d like to believe that, in spite of all the eye rolling at her crazy mom and aunt, Talia had as much fun as we did seeing the sites of Seattle, bouncing around town together … and doing it all on the cheap.

Recent Headlines