As I was sitting there, I wondered to myself if I should do the social meet-n-greet of going to the Sales Team Dinner. I had an errand to run on Western, and feeling a bit of my normal gregarious self coming out, I decided “what the hell”.
First setting off to get a gift cert for my daughter’s 4th grade teacher at the Spanish Table (wine, paella mixin’s, port, pork, yum…), I proceeded to find the steepest hill in Seattle (with cobblestones no less), and made my way up to Capital Hill. There was something wrong with Pine. It was locked with cars from light to light. I ended up riding alternatingly right or left of the cars in the far right lane, suicidally making my way behind another rider who informed me that there was some sort of rally about “getting the Sonics back”. I’m sure the car commuters were amused, but that’s why I bike.
As I got to the destination and locked up the m’er f’n hunq’a pillar, I reconsidered. I made it this far – could be fun. Onwards ho. In I went. Immediately I was corralled by a technical account guy who has been trying to get his customer’s (porn) workflow to not error out on our ingestion systems. After talking a bit, and having our corporate attorney wander over – he realized he should have waited until I had a drink before starting to grill me. I like this guy! He actually has tact and isn’t the normal unconcerned douchebag. He says he will buy me a scotch. Good by me.
After a few beers and a nice Laphroig, I’m feeling pretty good, and meet up with a new sales engineer from the UK, a Turkish/Greek Consultant, and convince them to stop by the “friday afternoon ops meeting” at 4pm for the traditional end of week whiskey. Their enthusiasm brands them as proper Europeans. I always knew Seattle was the closest thing America has to the UK.
That set, I end up talking with an old comrade from the Encoding.com days who now lives in London. He tells me he almost went to Monaco for the F1 race a few weeks ago (free, no less), and that he has a cousin in a Greek island. Nice. Some people have all the connections.
At that, I excused myself, and headed back out to the bike that was locked up outside. As I was unlocking it and getting ready to go, a guy came over and asked me if I worked for Children’s Hospital (my jersey of the day). I told him no, and he indicated it was a great place that did a lot of good stuff for kids. I wasn’t sure if he worked at the bar I just left, or if he was a random street dude. The conversation led to him telling me he was a Chinese American from New York.
He started complaining about Seattle being a small town that wasn’t doing anything for the world, and how people here were “passive aggressive” and not direct like east-coasters. He explained how China was bankrolling us all, and we couldn’t even pay the interest on the loans we owed. I gave him the opinion that we were on our way to become the “europe of the 21st century” and that the US was like China in the early 20th century.
I commiserated with him and asked how long he had lived here (5 yrs) and told him to give it time – he would get more “west coast” with time – an option he seemed to have little desire for. This progressed to a discussion of his dissatisfaction with Seattle calling Chinatown the “International District”, and how this was huge disrespect. That led to a discussion of how the european settlers disrespected the Indians to the extent that they preferred being called “indian” rather than the neutered “native american” of modern pc times.
Now I was enjoying myself. We also got into a discussion about how Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan and the Fed are the true power points for the modern era, and are busy f’ing us in the a, daily. At some point, I replied with an affirmative and a “jesus christ” expletive which he then asked me to not take the lord’s name in vain. I brushed it off with an apology for the offense.
After 15 minutes of our meandering conversation that actually reminded me of a normal phone call with my truck driving northern Minnesota brother in law, I bid him goodbye, and introduced myself with a handshake. His name was “Jay”. I thought to myself, here’s a good, passionate young guy trying to find his way in the world.
As I rode home, I realized how ironic it was that we could have a good conversation, while he was obviously offended by everything that I probably represented to him – white guy, middle class, european ancestry, but the thing that was best was I even offended him by taking the lord’s name in vain. If he is Chinese, and anti western, where is this western religion coming from? Dude – get over it – you are an American.
Seattle. It’s where the misfits from the rest of the country come to make their way. That’s what I like about this place!