The rain returns to Seattle for the next couple of days and while not adverse to its presence, I take the time to do laundry and loiter inside my hotel room, catching up on the ongoings of new friends and everyone else. In the suburb of Georgetown, far from the towering buildings of downtown Seattle, there are numerous little bars and vintage dining areas available till late in the evening. Across the street are a couple of sushi bars, Vietnamese pho and homemade burger joints beside the omnipresent Starbucks next to them. Most of the time I frequent the gas station and indulge in cheap food such as fried chicken and donuts.
By night, the streets of Georgetown become virtually empty and it isn’t hard to figure out why this area, despite the warehouses and freight company buildings, is considered to be safe to walk around. More than once I venture to the Square Knot which is a sleek vintage styled diner that serves $7 steak and eggs and the legendary 9lb porter shake. It pleases me to inform that the rainbow colored Pride flag hangs out in broad daylight from one of its stores.
The vagrants are not as friendly as Captain Louie and Paul from Victoria Island – most of them have signs of drug addiction, talking to themselves and showing signs of ‘the jitters’. Try to understand that while I had intended to speak with them, to better understand the reality of the impoverished in Washington, I did not feel as comfortable as I had been at my previous destination. The effects of the recession can be felt everywhere both from the working class and the ones cast out on the streets. It leaves very little in terms of politeness and common courtesy to others.
Such is the reality of travel, that between each new place and environment, the attitudes and culture will often be widely spread apart. The Canadian reputation for civility is replaced by harsh yet realistic attitudes within the States. Most of the humor I find are dry and sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek at best.
There is large number of Hispanic and African-Americans present in Seattle yet aside from the night owls that frequent the gas station, Georgetown is practically void of minorities aside from a fair number of Asians. According to one cab driver, most of the cab companies are ran by Ethiopians, their employers targeting fellow immigrants as part of a large-scale family franchise. Seattle, not unlike Vancouver BC, is divided by ethnic conclaves such as Auburn and otherwise according to him. Overall there is some degree of multiculturalism though not as prevalent up in Canada (or as the locals refer “Canadia”).
One of the most immediate things I notice during my stay in Seattle are the clean city streets, void of cigarette butts and garbage litter; public parks and trees planted along the boulevards are protected with warning signs and city permits. It almost feels bad to extinguish my menthols even on the asphalt road. Set far away from the downtown area, Georgetown has to it an airy semblance to a place of its nature – one can breathe in the moisture from a night’s worth of light rain drizzle, the heaviness of the changing season.
From time to time during my stay, I venture downstairs to stave off insomnia through nicotine between blogging and watching re-runs of the Two Towers marathon. I am pleased to say that the HBO America channels provides softcore pornography that compensates for the endless stream of infomercials, evangelist broadcasting and mindless news debates. Even the acting is better to certain extents.
Like any seasoned creature of the night, I pay attention to the crossroads for signs of interesting events, praying at times for some dramatic incident to unfold (say naked women parachuting with bags of unmarked money bills to offer in tribute to the first kinky Asian-Canadian they see). Aside from the occasional screaming police cruisers and the young African-American teens joyriding with thunderous hiphop tunes, Georgetown lacked the entertaining characters that Victoria had provided. Most of the veterans are happy to make small talk and are polite, never departing without either a regarding nod or a firm handshake, keeping eye contact always during conversation; the locals are self-described as being laid back, more so from the eyes of an outsider such as myself.
Aside from encountering the most stereotypical pimp – complete with a fur trimmed fedora and a beige colored gator suit, flanked by a tired middle aged woman in a fur coat – the people of Georgetown, the few I’ve spoken with, mostly have the attitude of those simply trying to get by. Nothing special, no offense.
Curiously enough one may begin to notice a seemingly discreet pattern to these residents and one evening, timing the movements of police cruisers and security vans, it dawned upon me that Seattle residents are quite acute towards anything beyond their regular schedule. As one deviant told me, “People who live in Seattle usually sleep at 11 o’clock and get up at 4 AM the following morning.” They smirk, adding, “Well, that is they aren’t up to no good late at night.”
Next Update: Twenty Minutes of Terror