Monday, September 21, 2009

Fact or Fiction: The Seattle Freeze

"Have a nice day...somewhere else."

The Seattle Freeze - the politest city in the country is also the most anti-social. Home of the plastic, passive-aggressive smile.

I'd never heard of it.

When I was here visiting in Seattle 18 months ago, that was not my experience. Perhaps it was because I was with fun, friendly people I already knew and loved that my attention was not drawn to the cold shoulder offered up by the people on the street. Or perhaps I was in an entirely different headspace and not compelled to interact gregariously with strangers.

However, this visit has been different. I'm in a much happier frame of mind and I'm feeling more social and self-confident. So when Dayna and I sat down to supper at the Rusty Pelican Cafe in Wallingford last night and all my interactions with the waitress were met with this strange, rusty half smile and a vague look of distaste, I was a bit nonplussed. I finally said to Dayna, "I think our waitress hates us and I'm not quite sure why."

She said simply, "Seattle Freeze."


We then ventured down to Noc Noc, a bar in downtown Seattle. The doorboy didn't just qualify for the Freeze, I've nominated him for Douche-Baggery of the City. Truly, in all my life, I've never experienced such rude, ugliness from a service person...ever.

The exchange went something like this:

Me: Do I need a stamp to get in and out?
DB: Yes, but I'm not endowed with a stamp pad right now.
Me: I won't say anything about that even though what I would say is quite funny.
DB: (dirty look)

20 minutes later

Me: I'd like to go out for a few minutes. Do you have a stamp yet?
DB: No.
Me: Well can I go right over there without a stamp and get back in without paying the cover?
DB: (Looking behind him and discovering the stamp pad had arrived) I'm going to stamp you and then I don't give a shit what you do.
Me: er...(I hold my hand out to be stamped and he gruffly turns my arm to expose the inside of my wrist to give me a stamp that says "Original") look! It says I'm original.
DB: I SERIOUSLY doubt that.

Now you must understand, just the words alone were fairly rude. But his tone? His tone was as though I was singlehandedly responsible for the holocaust. I would not have been more shocked if he'd spit in my face.

I shall consider writing a strongly worded letter to the owners of the establishment.

I don't think that was an example of the Seattle Freeze though...just an example of the ass-hattery of a young boy who thinks himself way cuter than he is.

Still...coming so soon on the heels of the waitress incident, I had to take pause and reflect and research this so-called "Seattle Freeze". Turns out, new people and visitors mostly say it exists...the people who have lived here a long time deny it.

As for me, I don't have enough evidence to support either position, but I'm in full on Sociological Researcher mode now and will be collecting empirical evidence for the remainder of my stay.

The results shall be posted at the conclusion of the study.

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