Ask an Uptight Seattleite

Why can't you people drive?

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

Why can't you people fucking drive? News flash: Your tires are made of high-tech rubber. A little drizzle isn't going to make them slide off the road. I learned to drive while negotiating tractor trailers, grandma-driven Chryslers, UPS vans, and BMW yuppies, all of them cutting each other off on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and to me it's like your roads are clogged with impossibly slow, dumb animals. I could go on, but I recognize your time is valuable, and I'm sure you have a new package from Netflix to attend to.

Brooklyn Babe

Dear Babe,

Whoa there, Ms. Grumpy Pants! Did someone get up on the wrong side of the buckwheat pillow? Hey, that's OK. I get a little case of the crankies from time to time, too. But please remember that when you come here, you're in the "Safe Place." Would you like to have a productive conversation in the Safe Place? I bet you would. So let's just check our hostility at the door, OK? In fact, if you try, I bet you can completely set aside all your strong feelings.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's go ahead and talk about those issues of yours. To achieve a greater harmony with Seattle traffic—and isn't that what you really want?—I suggest you first take a deep, calming breath before you turn the key in the ignition. When you've slowed down your mind, you'll see it's perfectly OK to drive 5 miles an hour and hesitate at each intersection while trying to decide whether or not to turn. You're actually doing the drivers behind you a favor by enforcing a more meditative and sensible pace.

Does rain necessitate driving even more slowly? Well, maybe there are undiscovered properties of rain that make it highly dangerous. Can you prove that there aren't? No, you can't. Isn't it then sort of close-minded of you to criticize? Much better instead to surrender to the rhythms of our content, slow-moving herd.

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

A barista at my local coffee shop bitched me out for striking up conversations with girls there and asking for their phone numbers (I am a straight single male). WTF??? In the year I've been going there, I've asked two girls for their numbers, and went out with one of them—so I guess my attentions aren't entirely unwelcome. I thought a coffee shop was a social place. If you don't want to talk, it's easy enough to say, "Excuse me, I need to study," or to just drink your coffee at home. Please explain what I've done wrong.

Friendly Guy

Dear Friendly,

I see your point. The existence of one girl with self-esteem problems totally validates your right to harass the rest of the female population. Just like if a single date-rape victim anywhere in the world declines to press charges, it's open season on all of them. Nice going, frat boy. Way to reduce all women to sexual chattel.

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

I recently moved here from San Francisco, and now live in an area between Seward Park and Mount Baker. How do I define this area, and what does it say about me? If I say "Seward Park," people might ooh and ahh over how multiculti and open things are, imagining neighbors from Birmingham, Somalia, Belize, and Denmark. If I say "Mount Baker," people will picture a tony neighborhood dotted with late-model Volvos and NO WAR signs. Neither of these images fits my neighborhood, which I think is actually called Lakewood. But that is also the name of a city somewhere way outside the beltway of coolness. To make matters worse, a nearby peninsulalike finger of homes calls itself Columbia City, which might have the most cachet of all, with its musty old independent theater, local food shops, and Saturday farmers market. In short, a balkanized patchwork of trendy neighborhoods swims before my eyes and I am paralyzed by the simple question, "Where in Seattle do you live?" Help!

Resident of Seward Park, er Mount Baker, er Columbia City

Dear Resident,

Since you just moved here, you don't know that in Seattle we don't get caught up in a lot of divisive nonsense about which neighborhood is better or cooler. It's not important where you live. It is important, however, that when I mention my neighborhood, it runs through your mind that yours by comparison may be either not as prosperous and cultured or too ostentatious and not diverse enough.

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