Culture shock, USA style

First of all, please forgive the quiet around here. Or, to shift perspective as I’m always wont to do, consider it my small October gift to you. My lack of post meant one less thing to do on your list. Excuses, excuses: illness, taking on a new task of teaching at the community college, a never-ending home-redo project, and a real bit of vacation have kept me from posting.

The vacation put me into culture shock. You’d think I’d have to venture to Bhutan, or Siberia, or some other exotic locale to experience a real change of venue. But no, I was in Seattle. Here was the first clue that I was NOT in Texas:

At casual glance, you may ask: so what, iced tea. The perspective got a bit skewed transferring the picture from my phone to the computer, so the glasses look like the quintessential Texas quart size. So note the normal size tea spoon for comparison.

The second behavior change required while walking around Seattle was the stop lights. The guidebook stated that pedestrians could get ticketed for crossing against the light. Must wait for the little white walking-person light that means go! And all the Seattle-ites stop and wait. And breathe, I assume. Most cities I’ve visited, Dallas and NYC in particular, are filled with pedestrians eager to play chicken and dash whenever they can. No time to waste! Ten seconds at stake here!

Then there were the ferries. Line up in your car–and sit and wait some more. We missed the ferry to Whidbey Island and had to wile away the wait, sauntering around to view the scenery. Just a way of life: to wait, rather than hurtle through space at breakneck speed.

And scenery? Mind-boggling after so much time on the Blackland prairie of North Texas. Mt. Rainier here, Mt. Baker there, Olympic mountains over there. Greenery, lakes, sunsets over the water: a view in every direction.

Who says life has to be this hurried pace? We hurry, intent on earning a living, achieving, striving, 168 hours a week. Maybe those quarts of iced tea rev us up too much. Seattle manages a slower pace quite well, as the home to great accomplishments like those of Microsoft, Boeing, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (where the very well-dressed homeless, some equipped with laptop bags, lined up each night for vinyl-covered sleeping pad distribution.)

And the sun was shining every day. I’m now even more intent on sloooowwwwwing down. Pardon me while I stop and breathe.

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