From the time I woke up to the time I left work yesterday, I was super excited, with enough endorphins in my brain to make the bullshittiest work bullshit kind of lurk off to murmur in the background. I was excited because STEPHANIE AND JUSTIN ARE IN TOWN! They narrowly made their flight and thankfully didn’t end up with lost luggage and they’re here, and today I plan on showing them the wonders of Fremont and Wallingford.
After dropping them off at their hotel (actually a hostel, and Stephanie says they’re the old couple who gets a private room with its own bathroom although I think this is less about being old and more about not being a crusty), we met up for dinner (including poutine, welcome to the best part about being a neighbor of Canada!) and drinks (where we accidentally interrupted the filming of a Sounders commercial but at least got to watch bros thrusting in the direction of the TV…repeatedly). Before all of that, as we drove home from the airport, I experienced a civic nerd kind of joy in pointing out the first skyscraper in Seattle, the Harbor Island cranes that Courtney once called apataosaurii and I still can’t get that out of my head, and where the construction crews found the mammoth tusk a few weeks ago.
It’s hard to point things out at night, though, but thankfully we’ve got the next few days to look around and hope (on my part) that the mountains make at least one appearance, since they really do change your idea of Seattle and how it sits in this weird, magical, semi-peninsular bowl in the middle of water and the mountains.
As we drove back from the airport, I advised that in Seattle, pedestrians have the right of way. More so that the legal right of way they’re allegedly granted in other places, because come on, we’ve all lived in St. Louis where pedestrians can pretty much go fuck themselves. In Seattle, though, people stop for pedestrians all the time, and not even in a shitty attitude way, and if for some reason a car doesn’t see a pedestrian at first and goes anyway, the driver usually sheepishly waves an apology. The result is that it’s nice to walk around in Seattle, and over the course of the past year and a half, I’ve developed my own “um, really, asshole?” stare at the few drivers who don’t seem to understand the concept.
Of course, pedestrians have to follow the rules, too. It’s rare to see anyone walking against the light in Seattle, even when there’s no traffic. I’ve done it a few times (because why would I wait when there’s no traffic?!) and heard parents pre-emptively scold their children who are watching me break the rules, using me as an example of how not to be a human being. Which I understand. There has to be some order – cars give pedestrians the absolute right of way, pedestrians just calm down and wait their turns – or it’d be total anarchy. A lot like St. Louis, actually, where you really do have to watch out or you’ll get run over, and pedestrians have that special “try it, motherfucker” slow walk across intersections when given the chance.
But obviously Seattle is not perfect. Plenty of pedestrians have taken their right of way and confused it with invincibility, tossing out the “look both ways” adage and just striding blithely into the street whenever they want. Which is insane. I might have the right of way and people almost always stop, but I am also much smaller and weaker than an automotive and it never hurts to be aware. Midwestern Child Me has to be restrained from running up to these people and admonishing them. “Don’t you know you could have gotten yourself killed?!”
Some people on bikes do this, too, although their attitude seems to be less of an ignorant bliss and more of a revenge against the evil people who drive evil cars. Which is also insane, because I hardly ever see cars not give right of way to bikes. I mean, I realize that it’s more physically difficult to ride a bike than it is to drive a car, especially on the hills of Seattle, but it’s a choice. I drive a car and I don’t remember forcing anyone to take up the bike in return. There’s one guy in particular who I usually see near our house who hates cars, and has a habit of riding into intersections where cars are already moving through them. “LEARN HOW TO DRIVE, FUCKIN’ ASSHOLE” is his battle cry, and he’s mostly unaware that the rules of the road also apply to him and he is breaking them every time. I know that this is karmically unfortunate of me, but I’d sort of like to see that guy get knocked down by a Prius. Because he deserves it.