Opinion

Hold steady while we rock in Federal Way

By Chris Carrel, Thinking Locally

Hold music is rarely newsworthy…that is, unless it’s driven some hapless holdee to a murderous rampage.

Yet, Federal Way may be changing that. Police officer Myron Kline, a talented musician who has been recording jingles and hold music for companies for years, recorded a song for Federal Way’s phone system a year ago.

The rock-inflected country song touts the city’s qualities and features a message recruiting candidates for the police department. According to a recent news article, people are calling the city now just to be put on hold.

The first time I heard the song on hold, I immediately realized it was different than the usual hold music. Then, I noticed the words “Federal Way” and listened more closely. Brilliant, I thought. Recruit police officers and offer music that’s an improvement on the standard hold music.

The second time, I listened more closely to the words and picked up on more of the lyrics. Kline had smartly worked in the city’s slogan and several of the city’s prime features. I never thought I’d hear “Federal Way-ee-ay-ee-ay” in a song.

The third time, I happened to be waiting on hold for City Manager Neal Beets. When he picked up, I told him that the song had finally gotten to me. I was ready to sign up for a badge and a gun.

Beets is a good-natured fellow with a quick sense of humor. He seemed to weigh several possible responses before chuckling and saying that he’d alert Police Chief Brian Wilson. I could just picture the chief combing his department for a lowly desk job (sans weapon) that no one else would do.

Bagging 43-year-old rookies, whose only shooting experience comes from computer games, was probably not what the chief or the city manager had in mind with the jingle.

My future career moves aside, there are several notable things about the city’s hold music. First off, it reflects our city character. Federal Way has never been the little suburb with the silver spoon in its mouth.

Our tax base is relatively thin, and our city has always had to be a little innovative and creative in its ways.

I’ve written before about the police department’s effectiveness and the fact that it has been outperforming nearby cities with larger budgets and more officers. The department has to work hard to find good officers, and it shows pluck to look for them on hold.

The hold jingle also demonstrates something relatively new in the F-Dub: Sense of pride. Kline’s lyrics and delivery are unabashedly pro-Federal Way, in the same way that Toby Keith is a little pro-American. Federal Way-ers used to whisper when telling people where they come from.

But after almost two decades of cityhood and an accumulation of accomplishments that includes Celebration Park, building our own police department and the new community center, to name a few, people are beginning to feel a little F-Dub pride. Say it loud, I’m from Federal Way and I’m proud!

Now, that’s all well and good, but less spectacular hold music still exists in Federal Way. Call my own organization and asked to be placed on hold if you need proof. Like many businesses, our overhead budget doesn’t allow splurging for rocking hold music.

While I’d like to provide something better for our callers, we’re a lean, little nonprofit and our donors would rather save habitat than save ears.

People are rarely on hold long at our office, so it’s not that much of an issue, yet it bothers me. I’m one of those people who believes that music is important. Even when it’s just telephone hold music, I feel bad for inflicting bad music on people. Of course, I could follow Officer Kline’s lead and go the do-it-yourself route, dust off the old guitar and tout the majesty of the Hylebos musically. I could imagine it being a Led Zeppelinesque number. The lyrics might go something like this:

You can get your green in the city

In the place where the skunk cabbage grows

You don’t need to drive to the mountains

Just take a walk through the Hylebos

We’re making our mark on the planet

Starting a better tomorrow today

Planting new trees in the ground

And hauling invasive plants away

So, please don’t ignore us

Cuz we’re replanting the forest

Join us for a volunteer day

By the creek with the funny name

Down at the Hylebos

At the Hylebos

Down at the Hylebos-oh-uh-oh-uh-oh-uh-os!

Well, OK, maybe it’s not Led Zeppelin, but like Officer Kline’s song, it would be an improvement.

Chris Carrel is a lifelong Federal Way resident and executive director of the Friends of the Hylebos. Contact: chinook@hylebos.org or (253) 874-2005.

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