Awake at 5:30 a.m. Doesn't Suck Thanks to King Donuts

The Place: King Donuts (9232 Rainier Ave. S., 721-3103).

The Hole: A traditional cake donut covered in chocolate and peanuts.

The Shit: Since quitting a short stint at a downtown coffee shop in 2004, my alarm almost never goes off before 7 a.m. But in the blissful haze of a great night out, I agreed to get my better half to the airport pre-dawn.

At 5:15 a.m. the radio alarm clicked on: NPR getting wonky on the federal budget, not a good start to any day.

The traffic on I-5 was shockingly dense and the airport was a mess of business travelers. Suffice to say I was feeling pretty surly by the time I pulled into the parking lot at King Donuts on the city's southern edge.

According to the posted hours, the door should have been open, but no signs of life came from the darkened interior. My mood further soured.

Too lazy to look for another place to get a holey, deep-fried pastry, I decided to give it a few minutes. And it wasn't long before a red car pulled into the lot and the tardy cashier jumped out to run for the door. I followed, ready to give him a piece of my exhausted mind, but as I walked in, he got the first word: "You need some coffee?" he cheerily asked.

He was already pouring a cup for me before I answered. Then he got out a carton of half-and-half so I wouldn't have to use the powdered creamer. His lateness was immediately forgiven.

As I pondered the surprisingly extensive donut selection, two other people bought boxes of maple bars, twists, and glazed donuts. Both came in with a grimace and left all smiles with their boxes of fatty goodness.

Craving something I could dunk in my coffee, I settled on a cake donut and wasn't disappointed. The fluffy inside soaked up my caffeinated libation, the heat melting the chocolate topping.

It was almost enough to make rising in the wee hours to the sound of NPR budget talk worth it.

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