Can a “diehard” 49ers fan share a living space with a Seahawks booster who sports a tattoo of the team’s logo on her forearm? According to Harlan Wood, “We get along great.”
He isn’t quiet about his passion, either. “People give me crap all the time about the 49ers. Guess what, I’m going to give it right back to you,” he said. “I don’t call them Seahawks, I call them sea chickens.”
Harlan started living with his Seahawks friend when her cat had surgery, and she needed someone to watch him. Shortly after, the same friend pulled a knee muscle and had to have surgery, too, so he stayed on longer. “I help people out when I can.”
Both of them compete in Special Olympics through Seattle Parks and Recreation. “We do basketball, track and field and softball. Only thing she don’t do [that I do] is bowling.”
Harlan signed up for Special Olympics with a former coach he ran into at a bowling alley.
In the years since, he’s won statewide first-place medals for shot put and track and field events, as well as citywide bowling prizes. “I may not be the greatest, but I will be there to give you competition.”
It’s the competition that’s important to Harlan, not just winning. Even when he’s watching his favorite football team, “I’d rather see a close game than a blowout. One of my favorite moments is when they came up here and they lost. Because going up when Sherman intercepted the ball, that play made the difference in that game. And Seattle, I don’t take nothing away from them, because they made the Super Bowl. If the 49ers don’t make it, the better team won, that’s how I look at it.”
Harlan was born in Madera, California, northwest of Fresno, but his truck-driving father was restless: “Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, all over California, that’s all my dad done, was moved around. My dad was the type of person if something didn’t go his way, he’d just … disappear. But I don’t need anything about my childhood years. I focus on the future:
Trying to get better, just enjoying life, because life is something that you cannot take for granted.”
He enjoys selling Real Change. “I try to sell at the QFC in Wallingford. People up there know me. When I’m not there for a while, they’ll come up, ‘Where you been? Are you all right? What’s going on?’ But I lost my turf and I don’t know where I want to rebuild that.” He’s reluctant to move on, however.
“My customers are always there for me, and I’ll always try to be there for them.”