Seattle Writing Prompts: The Terminal Sales Building

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The first thing you need to know about the Terminal Sales Building — besides its oddly specific and wonderful name — is that its address is 1923 1st Avenue, and guess what year it opened? That's right, 1923. Of all of the landmark buildings around Seattle, surely the Terminal Sales Building is the most numerologically aligned.

The gothic-revival building was designed by Henry Bittman, the famous Seattle engineer and architect. Many of his buildings still stand (his own home in Wallingford, built in 1916, sold in 2015 for $1.6m — although the last owner was apparently very reclusive, Bittman and his wife were not. An essay by Caterina Provost-Smith in Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects notes, of Bittman and his wife: "The couple, who never had children, entertained here frequently and with flair. They crowned each year with an elaborate New Year's Eve party, where, at the stroke of midnight, a specially designed dining table would split open and a sculpture commemorating the year would arise and revolve.").

Terminal Sales was the long-time home to Peter Miller's design and architecture bookshop (now on 2nd Avenue), which catered to the many design and architectural firms that lease space in the building. The other notable retail tenant, Baby & Co., has been a long-time favorite for couture conscious Seattlites with actual good taste, and the money to realize it.

A second, smaller, older building, on 2nd Avenue, now bears the name Terminal Sales Building Annex, which is a poor name for a building that is only connected to its larger, younger sibling by a skybridge over an alley.

But the Terminal Sales Building, with its big steel-framed windows, and terra-cotta tiles, appears wide-eyed and open to the world. It's ready to greet you. It's asking you in, to its loft-style spaces to run your business, or interact with someone else's. Let's find some stories there, inside a single design office.

Today's prompts
  1. The receptionist was nice, giving sympathetic smiles, as the candidate sat and waited for the Creative Director. He was screaming so loud the office wall might have not even been there, dressing down some poor sap for running the wrong copy in an ad. When that puffy-eyed creature left his office and the receptionist showed candidate in (and got the hell out of there as quick as she could). The candidate, clutching her large black portfolio, only hoped was that he liked her work. But entering his office, she knew that things were not going to go the way she wanted. This man looked murderous.

  2. God, he really was crying. The copywriter marched right past their little birthday celebration, with the cupcakes out and candles burning and singing going on, tears in his eyes. He didn't even notice them. He didn't even say hello. He didn't even notice his name on the cards. Nobody said anything for a minute, then that funny designer said something that made everyone laugh.

  3. The Creative Director was not in a mood to look at some fucking book by some fucking kid and play nice and encourage them. He was in a mood to destroy. He was like Kali, and everybody who crossed his threshold today was gonna feel the heat that his client rained down on him in epic display. He would redistribute that rage in equal measure, for them to take through their days and press into other's hands. And then the baby designer was so fucking nervous and stuttery, he was just ready to show her what professional people have to deal with. See if she wants the job after that. See how tough she really was. But then, he opened her book. And fuck it all if he saw something he never expected to see in a new graduates' work.

  4. It had to be in person. The sales director from the magazine knew that anything less wouldn't play very well. He held the bottle of 20 year old scotch in his sweaty hand. He was going to march in, tell the firm director that the copy mistake was their fault, and offer to reach out to the client. He would talk about how important their business was to him. He would talk about how their upcoming media buys are so important, and he would explain exactly how he's changed policies to safeguard against this happening again. How he fired the layout man who made this mistake. If only the elevator would come. If only it would come, he would stop shaking and get on with this terrible business.

  5. The receptionist placed the call when nobody was around. This place was for the birds. Everybody was so uptight all the time. Her last job was so great. Why did she ever leave? She dreams about it now. The phone rang, and her old boss would pick up and be surprised to hear from her. But surely they could put the affair behind them? Surely what she was feeling for her old boss wasn't love, right? Surely, her old boss would never leave her husband, would never live openly, so what was the use of even trying here? Surely, she told herself, this phone call was about the job and nothing else. And then the phone picked up, and she heard that ever-so-distinct voice on the other end: "hello?"