Special Reports

Normal life continues, too

The sun didn't know what day it was. It rose over Pierce County and beamed at the dew. Birds sang. Alarm clocks beeped and buzzed. Schoolchildren trudged to bus stops.

On another Wednesday, life went on.

At Red E Espresso on Pioneer Way East, Tonuah Trujillo brewed drinks by the dozen. Customers pulled in front of her drive-up window and handed her red cards. She handed them back with two new holes. Wednesday is double-punch day.

It was another day, too: Sept. 11 - an anniversary many customers couldn't ignore.

"A lot of people are actually complaining because that's all that's on the radio," said Trujillo, 25. "Most people are just talking about traffic and getting their kids off to school."

Beyond the insistent murmur of memorials, daily routines set a familiar rhythm. Workers headed for jobs. Cars crowded freeways. Some bumped into each other, and earned brief fame on radio traffic reports.

People were born. People died.

People broke the law and fell beneath its weight.

Pierce County sheriff's deputies responded to 1,046 calls - traffic stops, domestic violence cases and auto thefts, mostly. But the numbers were lower than expected.

"Just like any other day," said sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer.

At the County-City Building, judges and juries plowed through a full calendar. Superior Court Judge Gary Steiner ran the morning drug court, showing little patience for defendants with excuses.

A blonde woman with hollow eyes was the next defendant. Her drug treatment wasn't working. She was missing court appearances and failing drug tests. On Aug. 28, she tested positive for meth. The next step was jail.

The woman begged. She just started a job, she said. She had two kids she had to take care of.

Steiner didn't budge. He sent the woman to jail for a week - until her next hearing.

"If you lose your job, it's because you use drugs," he said. "I don't know what kind of job you do - I wouldn't have you run copies."

"My kids," the woman whispered.

"Don't lay this guilt on me," Steiner said.

Far from Steiner's courtroom, Annie Tyner, 72, nursed string beans and white potatoes in the September sun at Madison and North 21st streets. She gardens whenever she can, and gives her vegetables to anyone who needs them.

"As long as I'm able, I'll be gardening," she said.

Dana Roane, 37, stood in the emergency room at St. Joseph Medical Center and held his right arm with a grimace.

"I have a herniated disc in C5," he said, using the technical name for the spot in his spine that sends pain knifing into his neck and shoulder. Roane, a Tacoma resident, runs a jackhammer for a construction company. He said he won't be doing it anymore.

In the Proctor District, George Flink, 74, wondered why cars were gathering at Mason United Methodist Church at North 27th and Madison streets.

"Guess they had some music this morning," Flink said.

As a choir prepared to sing Mozart's Requiem in honor of Sept. 11 victims, Flink mowed the back alley for his friend George Sudar.

Sudar has a bad back. It hurts to mow. So Flink does it for him.

"I'm retired," Flink said. "So I can help him out. I raked his leaves up for him. Raked 'em up Monday. Probably have to do it again tomorrow. Hell, that's nothing. Poor George and his back."

Seeing Flink, George Sudar stepped out of his house to chat.

"He's our key man on this block," Sudar said. "Helps all the whole neighborhood an awful lot. He's a great neighbor."

"George," you're overdoing it," Flink said.

"I'm just saying what you do, George."

Willard Ott, 58, and Rob Sinclair, 57, spent the day painting Sinclair's new house on Junett Street.

"Been a good day," Ott said. "Listening to the radio to make sure nobody sneaks up on us, but other than that, it's been a good day."

At the Pegasus Restaurant in the Port of Tacoma, the lunch rush included two men - one older, one younger - who talked religion in a corner as they pushed the crusts of sandwiches.

"God hates evil," the older man said. "He hates lying. Let me explain."

At the Tacoma Humane Society, 33 cats and dogs were adopted, 59 strays came in, and 30 animals were euthanized, including one wild bird. Two relieved pet owners claimed lost dogs. A woman named Carolyn Boyd gave in to her sons and adopted a gray kitten.

"We have another at home," she said. "He needs a playmate."

At Tahoma Cemetery, Jenny Hamilton, 42, said goodbye to her dad. Eatonville resident Ray Jameson, 66, died last weekend after a battle with cancer.

"An awesome man," Hamilton said. "He was a quiet man, but very much involved with our family. He loved my mother very much - got married when he was about 35 and took on two pre-teenage kids and took us on as his own kids and raised us."

At first, the family wondered about scheduling Jameson's funeral on Sept. 11. But Hamilton said it made the occasion more memorable.

In the maternity ward at St. Joseph Medical Center, Paul and Andrea Rich greeted a daughter, Sophia Patricia Diane Rich, born at 6:48 a.m. She weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

She came two weeks early. The date was a coincidence.

"I'm kind of glad," said Paul Rich, 28. "It would be kind of sad to live the rest of your life thinking the 11th is always going to be a sad day where nothing happy ever happens. That sad day is still there, but this is more important to me."

"It just shows the ring," said Andrea, 26. "People pass and people come. It's - it's miraculous. You can't put it into words."

Sean Robinson 253-597-8486