tmccarthy0's picture

    Meet My Seattle -- A Stereotype That Fits

    I don't know if I've inundated any of you with my undying love for and of Seattle. I have it. My grandmother was raised in Ballard, she graduated from the University of Washington. My family has a very long history in Seattle, Gram's mom came from Norway to Seattle, I know, I know, that is the typical story of the northwest immigrant in the 1880's and 90's.

    There are certain stereotypes of Seattlelites, in fact my favorite now defunct column from the Weekly was called Uptight Seattlelite. It was one of those laugh out loud columns and all about Seattlelite Stereotypes, which were all kind of true and hilarious! We are an odd group group of people, it isn't as if we don't know that, we mostly don't care.

    Here is a little anecdote that kind of explains I guess how others see us. I was in Charleston, SC last August with my husband who was taking a class, so I arranged to take tours of everything I could for those 5 days we were there. One of the tours I went on was a culinary tour. Because it was a walking culinary tour of downtown Charleston we had to introduce ourselves and tell them where we were from and answer the question if we had ever had grits before. It was my turn, I said, "hey, I'm Teri from Seattle, and no, I've never had grits in my life, I've heard of them, but I really don't have any idea what they are? I always wondered if it was some sort of oatmeal?". They all chuckled, but she said, "Oh Seattle. There really aren't other people in the US like the people in Seattle", I laughed out loud.  It's kind of a regional stereotype isn't it, and no it doesn't bother me, I am kind of proud of it, even if we are weird. We really are proud of our reputation.

    So, last night my daughter left school to walk down to work. She works at Ivar's which is famous and has been around since 1938, and it is on our famous waterfront. She was waiting at the crosswalk, her light said walk, she walked out into the street and was plowed into by yet another driver running a red light, in the middle of downtown Seattle, during rush hour. Unbelievable stuff. There was a crowd of people just behind her, but she was in front.

    Thank god for our reputation that reinforces one of the stereotypes about us: we are educated. Recently you may have read that if you are going to have a heart attack in a city, have it in Seattle, because more people here are trained for CPR than anywhere else in the nation (more than 70% of our local population is trained to perform CPR). Not only did people rush to her side,  they made sure she didn't try to move her head, obviously they called 911, they talked to her, asked her questions, kept her alert, gave the EMTs a complete report as to what happened, and of course there are 10 people who gave police reports including a metro bus driver.   They picked up her purse which had spilled, they grabbed her cell phone, one person called Ivar's to tell them she wouldn't be into work, one person from Ross walked to Ivar's to tell them what happened to her.

    Don't worry, she is going to be just fine. I just wanted you to meet my Seattle. My Seattle cares about people.  You really couldn't choose a better place to live. Yeah we are weird, we are good with that.


    That's a wonderful story about Seattle. I'm glad to hear your daughter is going to be okay.  That must have been very scary for both her and you.  

    My nephew has lived in Seattle for more than a dozen years and I have a number of friends that live there, including a wonderful angel of a woman that helped me when I needed it most about 15 years ago, so I know how kind and caring people from Seattle can be, even to someone that they have only met through the internet.

    I like good Samaritan stories.

    Imagine, all those good people working as a team!

    And the professionals depending upon that team!

    I concur with your positive representation of this Northwest jewel.  While I was born in Seattle, most of my youth was spent in other NW locales, but I returned whenever possible.  Yes, the waterfront and other local sites never disappoint but it is the positive characteristics and attitudes of the people that truly beckon and sustain this city.

    Very good news that your daughter will be fine.  Best to you and yours T!!!


    Good to hear that everything is fine.

    I spent a good part of my life in Seattle and have lived in just about every neighborhood north of downtown. 

    I have mixed feelings about Seattle, I have to admit.  Most of my negative feelings comes from all the money that came into the region with Microsoft and then the whole tech boom. (I don't know if it still the case, but the greater Seattle area was the wealthiest city in the country per capita around the turn of the century)  Watching Fremont become gentrified tore at me.  I remember walking past a couple yuppies one evening who were complaining about the Lenin statue and how it ruined the neighborhood.  And then there was the time I nearly had the same experience as your daughter as some guy in his new convertible Mercedes stopping just in time not to mow me over in a crosswalk. 

    It used to be people came to Seattle because of the lifestyle, the culture.  They adopted the duck shoes and gore tex jackets.  But then the money pulled in people who didn't care about the Northwest way of doing things. 

    And the traffic - god the traffic is horrible.

    But there is a fondness for the ole Seattle that is still there.  I remember a friend had returned from some time on the East Coast.  We were going to cross 45th Street to get to the Guild to watch a movie.  We were standing midway on the block, but then the Saturday night traffic came to a halt.  One car stopped to let us cross.  The lead car going in the other direction stopped too.  All the other cars behind waited patiently as we jogged across the street, my friend saying "well I know I'm definitely back in Seattle."

    I have to say that Portland these days seems more like the Seattle I once knew, before it became a metropolis.  But when I go back from time to time, there is still the ole Seattle still there.  All I have to do is pop into Elliot Bay book store or sit in one of the mom and pop cafes and I am back.

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