I run into another high school classmate, and just as we’re finishing up our chat, a Seattle Public Utilities employee pulls up beside us on a Segway. We move to opposite sides of the sidewalk to let him pass. (This kind of thing never happened to us in Grandview.) Then we walk off in different directions, and a second Segway scoots by. They’re bigger than you’d expect – they’re wide, and they’re loaded down with saddle bags and plenty of extra hardware.

An hour later, I’m studying another Seattle Public Utilities vehicle stopped at a red light. It’s the Vactor 2100 – a roughly truck-shaped system of hoses and tanks, cables and chains, and anything else you might need. There may very well be a method to the system, but I find it incomprehensible. I can’t even tell which utility it’s been designed to service – it could be for all of them.

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