On the Road with the Beautiful Friendship

Their route goes from Northeast 100th Street and 32nd Avenue Northeast, down 32nd Avenue, down Hale Hill, and into school from the student parking lot. They often make stops to find things and explore the neighborhood.

It’s 7:15 a.m. The sun hasn’t yet risen. It’s a foggy Wednesday morning at the Maple Leaf Lutheran Church parking lot. But there is laughter in the distance. The laughter of three teachers on their way to school.

Physics teacher Karl Englert and language arts teachers Mark Greenway and Joel Jacobson are best friends. Everyday they meet on the corner of Northeast 100th Street and 32nd Avenue Northeast so they can walk to school together.

This is what they said one morning’s conversation:

 

ENGLERT: Here’s my favorite thing about this whole walk: these guys make me laugh the whole way, that’s really my favorite part.

GREENWAY: We’re sometimes serious.

ENGLERT: And Mr. Greenway likes to find things on the way.

GREENWAY: I do, I find all kinds of things.

JACOBSON: Just two days ago it was gloves.

GREENWAY: I found a beautiful pair of pruning clippers once.

[audible ahs from the others]

JACOBSON: A dog-like collar.

GREENWAY: A dog-like collar I now wear on my backpack. One time I just found a whole roll of dog poop bags on a walk.

ENGLERT: Which is really appropriate for you. Because you don’t have dogs. [laughter] We frequently talk about dogs. Mr. Greenway does not like dogs.

GREENWAY: I think that they’re slavish beasts that just love you unconditionally and that’s just so false. People that need slavish, unconditional love just have issues.

JACOBSON: Mark’s love is conditional.

GREENWAY: Dog hating is my favorite subject.

These guys are lightweights, they only walk this far. I actually walk three miles, but I wouldn’t do it if Karl didn’t say, “Be there.” It’s hard to get up at five and get out in the morning.

ENGLERT: I think after the first few weeks of doing this, once I’d found out you weren’t coming, then I would make fun of you and it got you. You were sort of like “Ah geez, I guess I’m going to have to do it.”

GREENWAY: I don’t like being made fun of.

REPORTER: What are we doing right now?

JACOBSON: [Right now, we are] walking down the hill. Almost making it to Hale Hill on a nice frosty morning with beautiful Cascade mountains off to the side and some fog.

ENGLERT: The sun’s coming up. Do you think this is a good morning to check out the library?

GREENWAY: I like to get to school. You guys like to walk.

ENGLERT: You were the ones that chose to do this. [talking about the little free library] This is a family whose kids went to Hale.

GREENWAY: None of them do we want.

JACOBSON: Maybe a copy of “Othello.”

ENGLERT: I like this book. “Good Calories Bad Calories.” Aren’t they just all calories?

GREENWAY: Well I guess you should read the book!

JACOBSON: There’s a New Yorker.

ENGLERT: There’s a New Yorker? I’ll take that.

GREENWAY: Oh that’s a good one!

JACOBSON: I remember that one.

ENGLERT: I’ll take it.

GREENWAY: No. I’ve got plenty of them at home, you could have one of mine.

ENGLERT: Well, you said that about some of those other books about Thailand. There’s this book that my wife’s been reading and she just couldn’t stop gushing about it.

JACOBSON: Is it fiction or nonfiction?

ENGLERT: It’s fiction, but it takes place in Russia in about 1922 during the revolution and it’s about this count who instead of getting shot he has enough friends that he doesn’t get shot, but he gets condemned to live in a hotel so it’s about his life, and it’s kind of fascinating.

JACOBSON: Watch out because this garbage truck comes around the corner to kill us.

GREENWAY: I think you got what we’re doing wrong. I thought it was a more general question about what the hell are you guys doing at six in the morning? Why are you doing this?

ENGLERT: Right, why don’t you just drive like normal people?

GREENWAY: One of the things about this is that we can be pretty assured at this point Holden [Predmore] will already be in the parking lot.

ENGLERT: You’ve slowed us down [referring to the reporter].

GREENWAY: I think that in a city where driving has become such a hassle, it’s so nice to get to tell people I get to walk to work. It takes an hour [to walk]. The secondary benefit is that I’m ready for backpacking in the summer. And I think it wakes me up. And more people should do it.

ENGLERT: I think one day I just happened to be getting ready to walk to school, and Mark was going by my house, and I enjoyed walking with Mark. It’s a long walk for Mark and he was getting tired and, did I carry your backpack that day?

[laughter]

GREENWAY: So you can see, this is fun! Why wouldn’t you do this every day?

ENGLERT: I think my favorite is when neither one of them can walk and I come down here alone. And I always send them a message on their phones about who I’m walking with. And it’s usually some famous person who happens to be in a bottle, a genie, or something.

JACOBSON: One of the very first times I was supposed to meet them walking, I wasn’t very good about saying which direction I was coming. And I ended up going parallel down 35th, when they went south on 32nd, and I kept walking and ended up at school, and Karl ended up at my house, wondering where I was. I can think about getting to know each other really well from the physics field trip.

ENGLERT: While we’re teachers, teaching can be a real isolating profession. I never get to talk with anybody all day long, adults-wise. It’s only kids. And it’s different here, at least on the walk into school.

GREENWAY: We talk about everything. Some of it’s school stuff, but some of it’s politics, social stuff, some of it’s family.


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