Saturday, October 28, 2006

Today's Lesson: How to Identify a Seattle-ite

This is a fairly common scene at Seattle shopping malls. (The sign says "Does it look like rain? Feel free to borrow an umbrella and kindly return it as you depart.")

The crazy thing is, the only people you'll ever see using umbrellas in Seattle are tourists! In fact, it's how we pick them out of a crowd. Anyone using an umbrella is probably from Tuscon or Kansas City. If you're looking for the real Seattle-ite, look for someone on a mountain bike, wearing fleece, latte in-hand (grande double-shot, extra hot sugar-free pumpkin spice one-Splenda macciatto), heading into REI (where both my son and his girlfriend work).

I'm willing to bet that these umbrellas not only rarely get used, I'll bet they rarely get stolen. That's because Seattle-ites are truly a POLITE bunch. You should see us on the roads. I've been here for almost 12 years (from California) and I still feel giddy every time someone waves me ahead of them as I'm looking to change lanes. The exchange happens many times a day, and I have yet to take it for granted: I put on my blinker and look in my mirror. The guy/girl behind me makes eye contact, slows down and ushers me in with the wave of a hand. I move gently over and wave and/or mouth thank you. The driver acknowledges my appreciation with a return wave and often a genuine smile. This doesn't just happen sometimes with some drivers; this is routine on the Seattle streets.

One of these days I expect some Seattle driver (in a fleece, with a latte) to wave me in, then follow me home and make me a gourmet dinner.

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