Friday, November 06, 2009

Seattle Nice

It’s no secret that Seattleites are, as a whole, a passive-aggressive people. We give panhandlers money and then get offended if they don’t smile or say “Thank you.” Or, if we’re a panhandler, we carry a sign that says, “What if I starved tomorrow—would you care?” We are too wary of conflict to confront people directly but too petty and self-righteous to just let stuff go—which leads to the leaving of lots of notes, mostly under peoples’ windshield wipers, often sealed in a Ziploc baggy to protect the seethingly polite contents from the rain.

I have received windshield notes from neighbors asking me not to park on the strip of public street in front of their house, notes from fellow drivers asking me not to parallel park my “fancy German car” so close to theirs, and notes from garbage collectors asking me not to park my own car on my own street on trash day. As a joke, I once left a note on a friend’s car when I saw that she’d parked behind me, exhorting her to check the city statutes on the minimum distance allowable between two parked cars. To make it totally over the top I included a legend indicating the length of one inch [__________] for her reference. She had no idea it was a prank until I confessed, so similar was my note to ones she’d received in the past.

The approach is annoying and lame—and a hell of a lot easier than actually talking to people directly about something that’s bothering you. And so it was that I came to park in the truck of the construction dude who’s been working on the next-door neighbor’s house since mid-summer. For months now the dude and his helpers have been leaving their trucks in the alley, thereby parking in me and Dr. Husband. When we want to leave the house via automobile, we have to go next door and coax someone down off a ladder or off the roof to come move the truck out of our way. This is obviously exasperating, but we’ve tried to be patient. We’ve tried to be reasonable. We’ve tried to be accommodating—and this, of course, is how passive-aggressive behavior is born. Did we flat out tell them not to park us in? Did we talk to the owners of the house and ask them to ask their workers to park on the street instead of the alley?

Um. No. Each time the workers moved the truck and apologized for blocking us in, we would say something along the lines of, “That’s okay.”

Until today.

I’d been out doing errands and when I returned discovered the truck blocking the path to our garage. It was raining out. I had two bags of groceries in tow. I’m 39-weeks-and-six-days pregnant.

I very quietly snapped and decided to just park them in. Fuck it. If they wanted to leave, they knew where to find me.

Sure enough, an hour or so later the contractor knocked in the door, all hangdog and contrite. “I’m so sorry,” he said. I managed to keep myself from saying, “That’s okay,” and instead came up with, “It’s just that my due date is tomorrow—”

“And the last thing you need is the fucking contractor blocking you in!” the contractor finished for me.

“Well, yeah,” I agreed, not quite being able to make eye contact with him as I lumbered towards the car to move it for him.

“You’re pregnant! You get to say whatever you want!” he pointed out. “You should have told us to fuck off a while ago!”

“I’m working on it,” I muttered.

He repeated his apology and promised it wouldn’t happen again.

And that, my friends, is how it’s done here in Seattle.

1 comment:

  1. I found you via offbeatmama this morning and have been devouring huge swathes of your archives - love your writing.

    I laughed out loud at this post (not the only one that I've loved) - and figured I should comment.

    You officially have a new fan.
    Follow! (To paraphrase Dooce)