Don’t cross against the light in Seattle

I took some of your advice and got out last night. A girlfriend invited me to see Uncle Vanya at the Intiman Theater in Seattle. Russian play, great theater, good friend, good food. I couldn’t say no. I spent the whole day saying I didn’t want to go. I was jealous because the trusty husband was taking the boy down to see his sister and niece last night. They are only here every couple of months (but they’ll be here 2 weeks this time). I had no excuse not to have this girl’s night out.

I am glad I went. I got the pleasure of driving. Which many of you would say, “um Elle, you have road rage.” Sure. This is true. Seattle traffic is not conducive to the pleasant driving experience. But, I got to drive my bug and all was good. No real traffic. I only think I yelled at one person. No random fingers were flashed about and we arrived in one piece.

We ate dinner at a little Thai place around the corner from the playhouse. Oh. My. God. Some of the best Thai food evah. There’s a great place here in Tacoma, but this place has even better Panang Curry. I ate the entire order. Seriously. I never eat that much.

The theater is a cute little joint. Very stadium like seating. Very small stage. No orchestra pit. And the show… was fantastic. A very Russian story without a happy ending. The actors did a fantastic job. It was interesting to see the play with this particular girlfriend. She said she’d never seen a show that wasn’t a musical. All spoken theater is much different. For this to be her first spoken play was probably not the best choice. I, on the other hand, had a great time. She did too.

As we left the theater to head back to the parking garage a whole herd of people started crossing Mercer street while the Don’t Walk sign was illuminated. Being the good lemming that I am I followed. Half way across the street I started blaming it on the tourists. You see… you don’t cross against the light in Seattle.

It is this ingrained thing in our culture. Actually it has something to do with the fact that you will get ticketed for it. Downtown cops are hard ass on that. So we’ve learned that you just don’t do it.

When we visit other cities it takes a few days to get used to the fact that everyone outside of Seattle jaywalks. We went to NYC a few years ago and you could totally tell we were the tourists. Throngs of people would be crossing the street dodging cabs while we stood on the corner with panic stricken looks on our faces. Even in Russia people jaywalk. You couldn’t get anywhere if you didn’t. Hell, in Russia we frequently crossed sunken trolley tracks to catch our train.

The Seattle jaywalking thing is such a big deal a local (Almost Live) show back in the 90’s did a sketch called “The Fugitive in Seattle.” It came out when “The Fugitive” was in the theater. The character is trying to get away (as in the movie) and he comes to an intersection. It plays out like the scene where Harrison Ford is in tunnel about to jump over the falls. In the sketch the hero (I believe it was John Kiester) says, “I didn’t kill my wife.” And the cop guy looks at him and says, “I don’t care. Just don’t cross against the light in Seattle.”

11 Comment

  1. glad you had a good girls’ night out! you deserve it … and by the way, I am fighting back feelings of jealousy that you drive a bug…. very cool.

  2. Dana says: Reply

    In Germany, you don’t cross if it says “don’t cross”. We, of course, did and everyone knew we were foreigners!

  3. No one cares here, especially by the college campus. If you are driving around there, people will just walk in front of you like “Yah, you better be watching, ’cause if you hit me it’s *your* fault.”

    It can get obnoxious hehe

    Something about pedestrians having the right of way, I guess?

  4. DebiP says: Reply

    Here in Chicago we walk on the light and not on the light…if there is no traffic then we go…in England if you get to a “zebra crossing” and touch your foot in it the traffic must halt to let the pedestrian across…it is kinda funny to sit there and jump in and jump out…and it is the law there too…drivers get ticketed often.

    I am glad that you enjoyed your time with a friend and good food and good theater…you deserve it..

  5. Carrie says: Reply

    Sounds like a great evening out. I’m jealous of the Thai food…one of my favorites that we don’t get very often up here.

    Ah memories of when we lived in Seattle pre-kiddos… too funny!

  6. NEAL says: Reply

    I had the pleasure of taking an Irish national up to Seattle to do a radio program a few months back.

    He’d served with the UN all over the world, and was quite perplexed at my hesitancy to not cross against the light even with no traffic coming.

    I admitted to him, as long as it wasn’t shared to the greater public, that I did the same at night on obviously vacant streets.

  7. How did you feel today after getting out last night? Rejuvinated or exhausted? I’ve had both experiences. I will have to remember that about Seattle and jaywalking. I’m a NYC girl, I just do it out of habit.
    Take care!

  8. You get ticketed for it?? So THAT’s why. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why everyone was standing there when there were no cars in sight in either direction. I’m from NY. I crossed.

    Glad you had a fun evening!

  9. Mom says: Reply

    Happy you had a “Sometimes It’s All About Me Night” Everyone needs to spoil themselves every now and then. Ah…I’m more then somebody’s wife and mom feeling!

  10. Lauren says: Reply

    Glad you had fun.

    But I must say I jaywalk every single day at least twice. Once walking from my parking garage and once heading back. Oh no I take that back. It is twice each way. Wow. I would get a lot of tickets in Seattle.

  11. Jenny2 says: Reply

    I remember that skit! And I know NOT to cross against the lights in Seattle. No, no, no.

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