Ok, I’m the biggest proponent of setting a cell phone aside and connecting in person.
<looking at you, Silver Fox>
That said, I give in to the LTE charms of my device frequently and other times downright fail at simply focusing on the moment at hand when with my friends. Still, I oftentimes intentionally flip my phone face down – since I have no boyfriend – in order to make the most of the time I spend with Chosen Family and persons of friendly interest.
That doesn’t stop my beautiful friends from seizing a moment to bust. my. chops when they are gifted an opportunity.
Not recently, by any means, The Fox and I were meeting Little Buddy and her 2.0 at The Big Lebowski and what happens too often…happened. I was walking my two block commute alone, as gawd intended, and they – unbeknownst to me – were parking.
I get to the bar and am greeted with an assortment of stories on the struggle of parking in the Pearl District that were all punctuated with some sort of “and then I saw Galbs walking through the park with his phone in his face”.
Ok, I do that but I assure you that I have reasonable situational awareness the entire time! Trust me, I’d loathe encountering someone who can’t accomplish this obsessive/addictive multi-tasking, so I try to be vigilantly aware when I’m doing it…although my awareness – unsurprisingly? – and admittedly does not extend to people searching for parking.
That said, you just know I have stories.
I was reminded of this shituational conundrum today while innocently waiting for a barista to manufacture a half dozen shots. I’m in Sunriver – my heaven on Earth, but don’t tell everyone because the last thing I want is to see this lil high desert resort in Oregon overrun by people – and had just hit the halfway point on a high desert resort version of an urban hike with my sister, bro-in-law and aunt. We decided – no, predecided at the outset of our hike – to get a coffee at Brewed Awakenings as a reward.
My bro-in-law and I ordered, then he took some water outside for his pooch while I waited.
Left unattended, out came my phone.
“The Instagram will not be ignored, Dan!” – the bitchy guy that walked up behind me.
He wasn’t even super-bitchy. Just your basic passive-aggressive Portland BS…so how can I even complain?
My blog, that’s why.
I’m waiting by the counter with my back to the door – and a good three feet betwixt myself and either the register or the door. I’m ready for new customers coming in behind me or existing patrons approaching the barista for seconds.
But that won’t stop our intrepid Portland-y version of Spalding Gray looking grumpapotamus motherfucker that walked in behind me.
I chose this particular picture for two to three reasons, depending on how you tally.
First, I know this wasn’t the late, great Spalding Gray because he passed himself away in 2004.
Second, since he did suicide himself, I found the quote in the photo…intriguing.
And third, I forgot the third reason.
Zombie Spalding Gray walks in behind me and I know it when I hear, “Heaven forbid we put down our devices for a moment” as he walks by me, completely not at all impacted by my or my phone’s presence. I just look at him and choose to not be a dick – for once – by replying, “I just took my phone out of my pocket for the first time in almost an hour, Oldie Hawn”.
Because I’m mature.
The funny thing is, he had earbuds in his ears.
The shooting spree in ‘Murica thing is, he didn’t buy anything.
But at least he passive-aggressively sniped at me as he passed by. I’d hate to know that he had to pay for therapy to cure what mentally ails him.
The really funny thing was that I’d literally just explained to my aunt maybe a mile back how everyone in Sunriver was always super nice-ish, greeting you whenever your path crossed theirs. We’d passed several other guests during our walk and without fail, received a kind verbal greeting from them. My aunt, leading us past a group of construction workers working on bike path improvements, had even greeted the workers as we passed by.
She’s from Texas, but overall a pretty nice person in her own right. But her greeting of the non-big-haired-blue-collar-types has led me to share the story of the openly friendly behaviors that Sunriver offers.
I’m not gonna lie, I think it’s because there are literally zero minorities here and people are just letting their guard down.
I also think they have zero awareness that that is why they are doing it. And they look so proud of themselves for being so friendly. I really hate to judge their motivation.
Yet, I haven’t let that stop me from surmising their hopefully unconscious M.O.
Then, there’s the Lady on the Bike.
And, trust me…she was no lady.
I had just left my condo in the Park Blocks and was checking my phone to react as needed to any alerts. I’d just woken up and donned a hat to cover my bed head so I could venture out for provisions for a lazy day. I was still in my slept in, wrinkled tee shirt and cut off sweat pants, and, yeah…freeballing in public after a short night.
I just wanted a Monster.
At least I had bothered to brush my teeth.
Sidebar: the whole time I’ve been writing this, there been an owl hooting intermittently outside my window. I’m not gonna lie, at first I thought it was one of my relatives getting down.
Apparently, I need to get laid so I can stop projecting my lewd thoughts onto hapless wildlife.
Anyway, I allow myself the distraction of deleting junky emails in the block from my place off Flanders to the busier arterial surface street of Everett. Then I drop my phone to my side and wait for a break in traffic.
When it’s safe to cross without feeling like I’m in a game of Frogged, I proceed….only to be stopped before reaching the far corner by an old hippie lady riding her bike across the side street.
From sidewalk to sidewalk.
It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that cyclists in Portland are expected to ride on the street and follow the basic rules of the old road.
Not this broad. Nor far too many e-scooter riders, but that’s another story. That I’ve already told. LOL.
“Of course, I wouldn’t expect you to put down your phone” she says under her wheeze as she peddles onto the sidewalk I should be walking onto. Mind you, I’m standing in one of the two busiest East/West streets in the Pearl while she breaks basic traffic laws.
But I have my phone in my hand, so it’s ok. Thank gawd I could save her the trouble of executing me, since I’m not a person of color.
I made it safely onto the far sidewalk with only a minimal lark left by her white privilege. But…still, I couldn’t shake the whole feeling of entitled victimization her attitude levied upon me.
Any moron with a minimum of accountability should know to shut up when riding their bike on the sidewalk. That she didn’t is surprising…but not at surprising as the ease with which she projected blame on to me for her transgression.
The Pearl is on the cusp of a huge project two blocks from my home. The 9 block parcel that houses Portland’s main Post Office building is scheduled to be torn down and redeveloped into nine blocks of housing…operations there have already scaled back. It’s really just a parcel service counter and PO Boxes these days. Sorting and bulk delivery have moved to their new location, meaning that the major truck traffic I’d grown used to on Pearl District streets has been diverted and eliminated as those businesses are re-routed to the new base of operations.
This chunk of land was even the major part of the Portland Design Commission’s submission to Amazon for its second world HQ – although, I’m pretty sure the PDC didn’t want to be seriously considered.
It was a self defense submission. Kinda like registering for a crock pot on your wedding wish list: it’s expected and if you don’t at least tell people what you’re willing to accept in a crock pot…you’re going to get screwed. And you’re also going to get five crock pots from your crackpot friends with the best intentions.
So, PDC threw in a bid do they could at least say that they participated.
For the briefest flicker of a moment, I missed the semi trucks bound for the Post Office. While this judgy, deflecting cyclist could capriciously disregard my presence…the old normal Post Office traffic would have reduced her to road pizza.
I’m not okay with that idea, per se. But I am aware that change in our country is going to come from people abandoning their “me first” mentality and living as a part of a whole, America. People who can’t do that, including the Trumpster Fire at the White House, should self select out.
Let’s all go out and do something nice today, for no other reason than to just make an effort to change our collective culture. I know this will be easy for most of my readers, because based on your previous comments, I know I have great people reading my drivel.
Thanks for that! And thanks in advance for helping me to pay it forward by being a part of the solution to our country’s brokenness.