Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Only in Portland!? Seriously!?

So I did a very minor good deed yesterday, and now I'm pissed off about it. Let me explain. I got on the bus last night after work just as a woman got off, and when I sat down I noticed she'd left her gloves on the seat. I took them up to the driver, who honked and got the woman's attention, and gave the gloves back to her. Mission accomplished. So far so good. So I sat back down, and the guy across the aisle smiled and chuckled and said "Only in Portland.", in the smug, self-satisfied tone people always use when they say "Only in Portland". That's when I got annoyed.

I think the implication of "Only in Portland" is that we're fortunate to live in the only city in the entire universe where people will spare a whopping five seconds for an act of basic common decency that costs absolutely nothing. If that's true, the human race is doomed. "Only in Portland" is crazy talk. You can only honestly believe it if you've never traveled much outside of here. There are, believe it or not, nice people to be found outside our city limits. Honest. I suspect most people know this, deep down, but say "Only in Portland" anyway because it reinforces our collective smug tribal identity. Either way, it's idiotic and I don't want any part of it.

"Only in Portland" also suggests everyone here does what I did yesterday, which again is untrue. Like, duh. If it was true, nobody would think it worth remarking on when it happened. Which would be nice, really. Oh, and I ought to point out that the asshat across the aisle, Mr. Only In Portland himself, didn't budge a single inch or lift a single freaking finger to get those gloves returned. He had to have seen the gloves, yet he sat there and did nothing. Apparently he still gets equal credit, though, just for living in the same city as me. I dunno why. It wasn't Portland that gave those gloves back, it was me, dammit. I'm not saying this because I want mad props for it. As I said, it was a very minor thing, and I'd rather it had passed entirely unremarked-upon. But if you really, absolutely, must say something, is it so hard to say "That was a nice thing you just did", without any tribal-identity nonsense? Is that really so impossible? I don't see how the city has anything to do with it. If I was in Detroit, or London, or Cairo and saw someone misplace a pair of gloves, I'd do exactly the same thing, and so would a lot of people. And, you know, I probably wouldn't get a smug "Only in Detroit" for my trouble.



TonkaManOR said...

I had something similar happen on the bus. I offered my seat to a young woman, by saying "Mam or Miss, would you like to sit down?" and she declined making a comment that she was from New York and I didn't need to be so polite...and no she didn't take my offered seat.

I wanted to respond, "well, I'm originally from Washington, DC and we're polite there too".

Oregonian37 said...

I remember when I first moved here from Texas, I would have people get downright angry at me for calling them ma'am because I was obviously patronizing them! I still get folks who tease me a bit but I have seen the positive impact of treating people with basic respect and manners and I'm not giving that up.

I've visited several cities, D.C. included and have met polite, helpful as well as rude people everywhere. Nice people are nice people no matter where they are at.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Ah, yes. No matter what you think of Portland, I do like to think we have our own brand of smugness and parochialism.

I say that as somewhat of a smug and parochial Portlander myself. Kinda guilty there. My guess is its a self-defensive civic attitude that kind comes from being the town everyone admires but not so many respect...but that's just a guess. I have no evidence to back it up.

You know how the U.S.S. Enterprise supposed to be on a peaceful mission but carried enough phasers and photon torpedoes to incinerate a continent. We're like that only our weapons are remarks like "Greatest. Transit. System. Evar" and "Most livable city in the world" and "Seattle without the pressure." Stuff like that.