Dear Uptight Seattleite,Speaking of bus signs, Chase Bank has a series that is telling us how happy we should be that they have landed in Seattle. One in particular says something about good banking finally arriving here, and the weather getting better, too. Do you think the not-so-subtle message is that our local bank screwed up, and our rainy weather is also pretty bad, but Chase will make it all better? Isn't Chase originally a New York bank? Didn't a financial industry centered in New York run amok and require we the soggy citizens to bail it out? And why would a New Yorker brag about their weather? Been there in July? January? Is it passé to get pissy about another round of East Coast condescension?Touchy Commuter
Dear Commuter,One day only at the Bon Marche! Day-O! Remember that jingle? Isn't it a happy reminder of a simpler time? It actually isn't for me, as I generally operate outside the media-soaked nexus of your typical model of consciousness, but I mentioned it to show that I have no trouble understanding how people such as yourself may be susceptible to corporate-driven narratives.And WaMu used to be pretty good at this game. Like with those grandma-cowgirl commercials they ran in the '90s when Wells Fargo came to town. (Were those commercials charged with a pretty intriguing lesbian subtext? Maybe yes, maybe no. I'm not exactly sure why you think this would be an issue, Commuter. In the spirit of the retreating Wells Fargo cowboys in that commercial, hows about you reholster that wild look in your eye, OK, pardner?)It's also fair to observe that Chase has chopped up former WaMu branches into weird little fake wood-paneled cubicles from which their employees now peer out like frightened captives, and that their sterile signs make the stock photography from the old WaMu signs look positively soulful. But what was behind WaMu's friendly face? Nothing but a big cloud of greed that vanished in the first strong breeze. Rather than ruing the new bank logo that now looms over the city like an evil badge, it would be better to welcome it as a truer expression of what a bank actually is.As for that Northwest inferiority complex of yours, Commuter, I'm afraid that you may be subconsciously feeling defensive about that report that we're the worst tippers in the country. You know what, though? The people who did that survey obviously didn't take into account our sensitivity to the possibility that servers might feel demeaned by excessive tipping, which could reinforce their subservient role.To feel better about Seattle, you should also keep in mind that our city's quietly civilized virtues are the kind that may not be immediately apparent. In what other city can you say to a stranger, "Excuse me, but do you know what kind of bird that is?" and expect a helpful answer? I asked some guy just this question while out for a walk recently. Now of course I actually knew what kind of bird it was. The name was just escaping me at that moment because I'd spent the morning in my meditation loft and was still re-acclimating to the world of human language. It was quite impressive that he was able to come up with the technically accurate term "finch," no matter how imprecise it might have been for what turned out to be a Pine Siskin.Dear Uptight Seattleite,I work at Value Village and always get nervous when it's my turn to give the announcements over the PA. The last time I did, I got the color of the tag of the day wrong. I felt even worse when my manager came over and told me off right in front of some customers. How should I have responded?Apron in a Knot
Dear Apron,There are times to go for a win and times when there is no win. A positive multiplied by a negative gives you a negative every time, and your boss may turn out to be the negative here, Apron. I suggest you respond by being an irrational number. The next time he confronts you, say something that undermines his given reality. This tactic, which I call the nonsense defense, is something I picked up by observing a friend's 10-year old daughter. When her dad told her to hurry up and brush her teeth, and that it wasn't necessary to take that book along to the bathroom, she said "It's not a book." The time it took her dad to process this piece of non-information was all the girl needed to make her escape. Likewise, you should tell your manager that there are no tags, there is no store, and that you're not actually even there at all. Then playfully jerk his necktie and tell him you're taking your break early.Questions? Write firstname.lastname@example.org.