A few days ago at work there was an mass office email circulating about how someone set a burrito on fire in the microwave, causing smoke to filter through the building and cause the whole floor to smell like charred Mexican food. My initial reaction was, “Oh shit, did I bring a burrito for lunch?” as that seemed like an event that I could feasibly have caused. Then I remembered microwaving my lunch at work seemed like too much of an effort for me.
But I could completely understand what happened. Someone put it in for 3 minutes but accidentally fat fingered an extra “0” on the time and then went back into their office and got sidetracked. This is what I imagined happened in my head.
No, I was not the burrito bandit that almost burnt the place down. I think we all know I would shamelessly own up to it at this point, and quite frankly, it would make for a better blog if I was the perpetrator, so I’m sorry I don’t have better news to share. But the aftermath of the burrito issue was telling of the Seattle argument.
An office email to the entire staff explaining that whoever left the burrito almost burned the building down, but not to worry, because it was stopped in time. Then people sent follow up emails about how whoever brought the burrito could get it because it was cooked thoroughly. This was followed by a picture of the blackened burrito that was burnt to a crisp. All the water cooler gossip was about who caused the burrito incident and why they wouldn’t fess up. I was grateful not enough people in the office know that I’m enough of a klutz that it would completely be something that I could see happening to me, so I was not in the pool of suspects. I felt a pang of sympathy for the fire starter.
I worry that after nearly 6 months here, I’ve grown so used to crazy Seattle things happening that I am unphased by them rather than having my typical, “What the hell, Seattle?” reaction. What happens at the point where these arguments go from being funny to being routine and normal in my day to day life?
The passive aggressive attitude has never been one that I’m a fan of. I appreciate when someone says it like it is, or lets me know where I stand with them. That is a hard attitude to find out here. I listened to a story the other day of a girl telling off someone she was mad about not hearing from for weeks by saying, “You sound healthy.”
My jaw almost hit the floor. I wanted to scream, that is a compliment not an insult. It was at this point I decided I should teach a class about how to properly tell people off. However I’m a bit of a hothead myself, so that would probably get out of hand very quickly. I also wondered how many times since I’ve been here I have been backhandedly insulted and not had a clue that it was happening.
I knew when I moved here that people were more passive than other places that I had been. I felt that maybe that would have a good effect on me. And I’m not saying it hasn’t. But sometimes I’ve found that it has the opposite effect on me. People’s complete openness and over politically correctness tends to trigger a rage in me that I don’t know where it comes from.
Like when I’m at a fair and a band covering Pink Floyd songs has to prepare everyone for “We Don’t Need No Education” explaining that, “It’s just a song. Don’t take it literally. We know that we are here raising money for a school.” I wanted to storm the stage, grab the mic, and yell, “If that just had to be explained to you, you should vacate the premises immediately.”
But when Seattle people do get mad, it seems to be over things that don’t make sense to me and catches me off guard completely. I was recently sitting in Starbucks which has a sign on the door that says not to bring your dogs inside, yet it certainly doesn’t stop people from ignoring it and acting like their dog is just an overly hairy child in a stroller.
I don’t know what prompted it, but a woman easily in her 70’s was sitting down, saw a woman bring her dog in, and asked the manager to ask them to leave. The woman with the dog went into a Seattle rage I had never seen before. She marched over to the old woman, dragging her dog on the leash and yelled, “I don’t know why you are so BITTER!” and then promptly ran out the door.
I stared openly at her in shock. I was appalled at the fact that she had the balls to yell at an old woman. Once a woman who was in her 80’s hit my car, and I felt incredibly guilty even though it wasn’t my fault at all. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it, but she felt so bad that it made me feel bad. I later recounted this story to my brother, who pointed out that I probably was hit by someone who shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car and just let it slide as if nothing happened because I couldn’t assess the situation logically.
I wanted to point out to the woman that she was blatantly ignoring a sign on the door, so technically she didn’t have the right to be so pissed off. The rules were made clear from the beginning. I wouldn’t dream of walking into a business whose door boasts, “no shirt, no shoes, no service” topless and barefoot and yell at someone for throwing me out. I frequently wonder why those signs don’t say “no pants,” because that seems like a bigger issue to me, but I digress.
I was just happy that she had the nerve to run away after yelling at an old woman. That way I wouldn’t have to worry about the woman having a stroke or a heart attack and involve myself in something that was really not my issue.
So when a burrito catches fire in my office, and it’s all the rage, I’m not shocked no one owns up to it, but I am glad I can have a good laugh about it with everyone else in my cubicle. After all, if I can’t laugh about these Seattle conflicts with someone, I’m worried it means I have crossed to the other side.