Monday, July 26, 2010
An Odd Lot
We are an odd lot, I must say. Fairly pleasant, but odd. We are a conglomeration of so many strange sorts that its hard to put a finger on it sometimes. Bohemians. Alternatives. Grunge. High-tech polo shirt wearers with little names on the breast. Long-haired hippies, both current trendy ones and those leftover from the Vietnam era. We smoke pot. Plenty of us live on the streets either by choice or by default. More than our fair share are overweight, drive mini vans and park in spots reserved for the handicapped. We are filled with lesbians and gays on nearly every street. We drive Subarus and hybrids and Smart Cars. And beat up pickup trucks too. Our east and west suburbs shop at Wal Mart while our inner city urban group snubs their noses at chain stores whatsoever (and that includes me). We are activists and are not afraid to say "No" to government or big business. We are boarders and skaters and used-clothing advocates and we carry our own grocery bags to the store for use. Oh, and one more thing....
We are checked out. Oblivious. Out of it. We ride bikes in traffic when we should not and expect that motor vehicles will actually pay attention and see us -- we demand our bike rights! We pay no attention to bicycle riders when we should be -- by god, they get enough attention! We push oversized strollers right down the middle of sidewalks and expect others to clear out of our way. We take our dogs to places when we should not because we don't think or care. Children are allowed to play wherever they want -- certainly they must be given a voice at age six months...right? We sit at four-way intersections....waiting, waiting, waiting....while everybody tries to be nice and let the other guy go. Meanwhile, nobody goes and traffic builds up. "No, you go....seriously, you go first...." Turn right on a red light after stopping first? Maybe. If we remember that it's okay to do. As for left-hand turns, we wait WAY back behind the line....instead of pulling out into the intersection to the actual point of the turn.....scared, waiting, nervous, not paying any attention. And then the light turns red and its time for our turn and......nothing happens. Nobody gets to go. And I honk my horn, because I have one and I like to use it. It sort of jars people. It sometimes gets me the finger. But most of the time I see the head in the car in front of me sort of glance around, in the mirror maybe, like "Are you talking to me?" We don't get it. It's like we're high on crack or something. Like LSD was our best friend in the 1960s. Our sense of our surroundings has been dulled. We just aren't aware. Maybe its all of the rain and gray skies. Who knows.
I followed a mother on her bicycle the other night. She in the middle of the road with her child on the back of the bike. Looking around, at people, at gardens and homes. And me....directly behind her, with cars piled up behind me. And she is not the exception to the rule.
You've just got to love Portland. Eclectic. Strange. Slow. Weird. We've got it all. We're slow...but we've got it all.