Pants in a tree

June 28, 2005

By Jacob Quinn Sanders.
Portland Tribune

On Southwest Alder Street, just east of Fourth Avenue, three floors up, there are pants hanging in a tree.

Jeans, actually. Been there for as long as anyone can remember. Right outside the SmartPark.

“You mean those pants that been up in that tree for like four months?” asked a SmartPark security officer.

Yeah. Or longer. Maybe since Christmas?

“OK, but I’ve only been working here since February, and they been up there this whole time,” she said. “I think about those pants every day when I pass by. It’s crazy about those pants.”

(Asked for her name, the officer called her bosses to ask permission, according to policy. “They’re not interested, they said,” she reported after hanging up.)

Homa Sakhitab, however, could talk officially. The manager of the garage for 16 years, she has that kind of authority.

“You should have seen it a while ago. Some people stole one of our big signs, took it up to the top, and threw it down,” she said. “It stayed up in a tree two or three months.”

The city’s official forester, Brian McNerney, said he recently read a New Yorker article about hobbyists using poles to remove plastic bags from trees, but nothing about pants.

“The pants, technically, are a litter issue and so would be the responsibility of the adjacent property owner,” McNerney said.

McNerney’s answer, however, does not resolve the mystery of their arrival in the tree.

Michelle Firkus, 36, of Milwaukie parks in this garage almost every day. If she’s lucky, she gets a spot on the fourth floor, in perfect viewing range of the pants either from the floor of the garage or the windowed elevator.

But she had never seen the pants before a reporter pointed them out.

“I’m going with bums,” she said.

But one would think, perhaps, that bums would hoard the denim treasure.

“You would, that’s true,” she said. “I can’t even imagine what this is about.”

A few minutes later, Mark Stephan, 37, of North Portland came by. He felt inspired on seeing the pants.

“You could start an exchange program for people,” he said, “hanging clothes on the lower limbs, trees dappled with clothes all over downtown. Take something and replace it with something else. It’s very Portland, a great aesthetic, y’know?”

Another SmartPark worker, also officially anonymous, rolled his eyes, twirled a toothpick in his mouth and said, Uh-huh, sure, that would work.

So how would he get them down?

“That’s not in my job description,” he said.

  1. […] me in its silliness of a story I wrote five (gasp) years ago at the Portland Tribine — one about pants in a tree. I had this one banged out by about 1 […]

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