Tuesday, October 24, 2006

safe in seattle

One of the first things I noticed about Seattle was that people actually wait for the green light before walking across the street. Doesn't matter how unbusy the traffic is. They'll wait and wait and wait until it's totally 110 percent legal.

I mentioned this to my buddy Brad, the Seattle transplant, and he said it's not because they're ultra cautious but because the cops actually ticket for jaywalking. Like, they've been on NPR for it. Like, it's news how uptight they are about crossing the damn street.

It was all part of a larger conversation about Seattle and a general reverence for rules one finds there. Brad couldn't quite explain it, but I knew exactly what he meant, based on the little I'd seen. There's something in the air out there that makes people extra conscious of order, of following protocol, no matter how absurd that order and protocol is.

We were making our way into a restaurant as we were having a conversation. It was getting late and we were informed, much to our delight, that happy hour would begin in ten minutes, at 10 p.m.

We were seated and a friendly waiter came by and chatted us up. After a bit of obligatory banter I suggested that we were hungry and we might like to order, or at least get something to drink.

"Not for another ten minutes," our server said, "if you want happy hour prices."

Brad and I looked at each other, eyebrows cocked. What the?

There was no one else in the place. Yet we had to sit there without so much as a glass of water for ten minutes until it officially became happy hour.

Then, when the guy came back, at 10 pm on the button, he asked what we'd like to drink. "Fake beer," we said.

"Oh," he replied, a bit disturbed. "That's not on the happy hour menu. Just drafts."

Brad guffawed.

I asked the guy, "Can we have our ten minutes back?"

Anyway, click on the picture below for a slideshow of the famous Pike Street Market, where they throw fish:

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