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This video’s a little older yet I’ll bet modern t.p. manufacturing methods are remarkably similar. If nothing else, it’s strangely relaxing to watch.

My grandma, who grew up in the Midwest during the Depression, said that the Sears Roebuck catalog was something you ordered from, read voraciously, and wiped with. Yep, it hung on a hook in the corner of the outhouse. When you were done reading it, you cleaned with it.

This man says that he’s solved America’s toilet paper crisis…

What do you know… Grandma would be tickled pink to know the toilet paper of 80-some years ago is making a comeback.

***BIG CAUTION!!*** Please do not flush anything other than human waste and regular store-bought toilet paper. Even though wipes and other products marketed as flushable may go down the toilet, they do not break down like toilet paper. This can and does cause sewer backups, which are especially unsanitary considering that COVID-19 can live in feces. We don’t need this virus erupting onto our lawns and streets, then draining into our streams, ponds, and lakes. Most storm drains do not go to a treatment plant, but directly into our waterways.

You can read more about the dangers of wipes in my older posts, Those Wascally Wipes and The Truth About Wipes.

Just before I posted this, I found that The Moron Brothers, a bluegrass comedy duo from Kentucky, has come out with yet another hilarious social commentary– and it mentions the Sears catalog!

Success is like toilet paper, it only seems important when you don’t have it.

Richard Jeni

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Keeping your sense of humor is important in such times, yes? Oh yes. This is why one Alfred Matthew Yankovic’s insights and creativity are so necessary right now. I was nodding off last night when I happened to turn on the second video and then almost fell off the furniture laughing.

Please do not taking the gargling suggestion in this PSA seriously

Dark humor is sometimes criticized as inappropriate, especially during crises. But as the Washington Post just said, where there’s humor, there’s hope. We all know that it’s critical to practice social distancing and wash our hands right now (believe me, you WILL wash your hands after watching the second video!). We all know people who are suffering and many are going out of their way to help them.

As we come together and find ways to assist our friends and neighbors, dark humor is one way we connect. It brings us together regardless of our politics and religion. It’s a coping mechanism. It’s a relief valve. This type of humor is particularly prevalent among essential personnel in public service. Given the demands of those jobs and the sometimes gruesome, graphic nature of the work, it’s natural to seek levity from within the gravity. Dark humor has been utilized this way for hundreds if not thousands of years, especially in the days before running water and antibiotics.

Image result for coronavirus memes

Laughing about the precautions we have to take, the nationwide disappearance of toilet paper, and the black market activity is better than panicking or going medieval on others. Already there have been upticks in incidences of domestic violence while people are forced to stay home, which is a great reason to have the National Domestic Violence Hotline number handy, 1-800-799-7233. This is one page keeping tabs on the rise in DV during quarantine.

These are strange times, times in which a Wiggles song could save an entire species. Did you know that 30 percent of Americans don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom? Did you know that there are bathrooms in grocery stores and people squeeze the avocados to select the most suitable candidate after using the bathroom? Can it not be deduced, then, that 30 percent of avocados… you see where this is going. In a slight modification of the old Sunday School song, wash your hands, all you people.

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From Forbes

The rise of zombie shopping is real. I saw this near Seattle the other night. A woman with a mask was erratically pushing an overflowing cart around the grocery store, sweeping quantities of canned goods off of the shelves into the cart with one arm. Her eyes were fixed. She had no situational awareness and almost ran into me about four times. It’s possible that she was ill and anxiety is a literal hell of a struggle for many people. I pray that she finds peace, support, love. This fear and oblivion, however legitimate, has created safety and supply issues for the rest of us as people become more desperate.

Disaster psychology has long fascinated me. I have been greatly concerned about how the Seattle area will respond in a crisis because it has become so politically polarized. It’s a fair question to ask if people of all walks will be able to work together when the going gets tough. We’re doing well enough, although a power outage or earthquake would push people over the edge. Three days without water will motivate humans to kill other humans.

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From Patch.com Texas

I’ve seen some beautiful acts so far, like people organizing to help the elderly and healthcare providers. In the era of the Seattle Freeze, some are talking to each other more and saying hi. I’ve also seen the ugly side, people yelling at cashiers for “not doing enough to keep the store shelves stocked” and pushing in front of others to grab large quantities of coveted groceries. I said it in another post, that this is the first time in my life I felt myself verging on orange while walking to the cash register with a 12-pack of toilet paper.

https://i0.wp.com/www.theorganicprepper.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Coopers-Colors-Awareness-Chart.png?ssl=1

I was asked today if everyone around here is dressing like they’re in Mad Max yet. I had to admit that I’ve been wearing my most outlandish socks to work since we locked our doors to the public. Maybe I’ll break out the motorcycle jacket and spiked choker next week. Here again… humor is helping us navigate this temporary journey through the Straits of Messina. Humor is what’s helping people give us new and exciting strategies to foam up our phalanges.

coronavirus meme

A great many people are struggling with the closure of restaurants, gyms, salons, and the usual gathering places right now. Social distancing– staying six feet away among other things– is hard for those who like close personal contact. But some introverts, who may not frequent such places anyway and don’t like being touched except by their inner circle, are enjoying the break. Yes, there are many other stressors, but you’re less likely to have someone you hardly know reach for your shoulders to massage them as if that somehow equates to “hello.”

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From 7newscom.au

Some locals are struggling with boredom since entertainment venues are closed, but if you’re into history or genealogy, there is no such thing. You always have a stack of projects on the coffee table, mysteries to solve, projects to research, and four lifetimes isn’t nearly enough to accomplish it all. So having meetings and events cancelled disrupts our routine, yet it can also be precious time to indulge our passions. Or stand in a forest. Or make phone calls to the older people we can’t go see. It’s time we can use for the greater good, to spread knowledge and caring.

Image result for valentines day 2020 mask

When this meme was circulating on Valentine’s Day, we didn’t know that a month later eco-friendly shopping bags would be banned from stores, individually wrapped white plastic forks would reappear, and we’d be giving up church for Lent. The other day I was pondering how dating works right now… amongst those who care about social distancing, anyway. My thought pattern veered this direction:

Swipe right.

“Hi! I can’t see the rest of your face because of that mask, but you have beautiful eyes. Would you like to go… go… out for coffee see a movie go swing dancing grab a beer meet up at the waterfront?”

Boy and girl arrive at waterfront. They maintain a ten-foot distance as they decide how to approach each other, awkwardly shifting weight from one foot to the other. They eventually sit down on either side of a public bench.

“So… what’s new this week?” she asks, realizing how ridiculous the question sounds given the radical shift in societal norms.

“Well,” he says, “I found some dish soap and crackers that’ll last me for a while, so that’s good. I took my dog to the park and not many people were there.”

“Great,” she giggles. “Now I know who to go to when I need some crackers for my soup.”

An uncomfortable silence ensues as she wonders how he’d look with a proper haircut. He’d like to slide closer, but she could be a carrier. She’s also a teacher. She wouldn’t mind being able to look him in the eyes a bit more to gauge his sincerity. But he said something about working in the medical supply field

Obviously mating rituals vary based upon the individual, and SNL has already portrayed what a sappy soap opera looks like with modern precautions. Some may skip the pomp and pageantry of modern dating and simply say, “You got groceries to find for grandma? Let’s do it.” Married people may either be reminded what annoys them about each other so much or discover strengths they didn’t know their partner had. They may find new ways to connect or realize that they don’t interface so well at prolonged close range. (3/22/20: Aish.com has published these tips on making marriage work during this time.)

Relationships during emergencies may either become very complicated or very practical. You find out what people are made of at times like this. You learn if the object of your desire really is the person you want to kick it with during the apocalypse. Will they stand by you as everything else falls apart or are they primarily focused on their own well-being? Do they accept you at your most unkempt and vulnerable? Do they engage in honest communication and mutually problem solve or just freak out? I hope this time serves as a litmus test for those who haven’t gotten hitched yet.

From Diply.com

There will likely be a Christmastime baby boom this year and a rise in the divorce rate is also predicted. We live in a weird paradox where we’re expected to stay close together at home but far apart in public at the same time. Its effect on human relationships is intriguing. I am both perplexed and fascinated by people tending to stay at a reasonable distance while shopping but then clumping up in the checkout line. I don’t like when someone’s breathing on my neck in the checkout line anyway, so– bonus!– feel even more comfortable asking for a little space now. (Yeah, you, Whole Foods guy with the pile of various flavors of plantain chips.)

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From Distractify

This too shall pass. It is absolutely serious and tragic. We should be doing everything we can to protect the vulnerable and society as a whole. This is a brilliant opportunity to extend charity to others and to get things done in general, so don’t waste it. Find new ways to love people and learn things. It’s possible that Someone larger than ourselves has called a time out, a reset, so that we can take stock of what and who is truly important in our lives.

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From Mama’s Geeky

Despite the lack of social distancing in this video, this renowned youth choir nails it– don’t panic, we’ve got this! By the grace of God and His mercy, we’ve got this.

DO look for the humor in all things no matter how dark the night. Laugh! I could and might write another post on the importance of prayer at this time and gearing up for more serious emergencies. As someone with food allergies whose groceries are limited to begin with, I know what it’s like to have to hunt for groceries at times, even more so now. A strong faith and a wild sense of humor can really take the edge off, though. You can find joy in the chaos and peace in the storm.

Image result for coronavirus meme

We are laughing in the face of something that’s deadly serious– and that’s healthy. We can work hard to protect ourselves and others, risk our own safety in jobs that serve others, and still laugh. We can avoid cruel jokes about individuals and still guffaw at memes poking fun at the strange things humans do in general. We can still have empathy and marvel over the lemming-like mentalities we can get caught up in. Ultimately, we’re laughing at ourselves.

Vampire cough, people!

It really is times like these…

If you’re robbing a bank and your pants fall down, I think it’s okay to laugh and to let the hostages laugh too, because, come on, life is funny.

Jack Handey

P.S. The captions are supposed to be centered… yet a technical issue is foiling some of the justification and fonts. See, life is funny…


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Yesterday at the Wallingford Chevron…

But two blocks west at this place…

There are zombies!

Southwest, at the Fremont Vintage Mall, I found it ironic that the second faux patent poster I turned to was for… toilet paper. Toilet paper is a hot commodity in the Puget Sound area due to panic buying.

When I found t.p. at Bartell Drugs, I told the cashier that I was surprised to have made it to the cash register without being mugged. I realized I’d tucked it under my arm and approached the front like a linebacker.

Given that it was Pi Day (thank you to the Archie McPhee employee at the counter proudly wearing a Pi t-shirt), I had to go enjoy part of this pie…

…with this guy. He looked so regal on this stormy day as the boats bobbed in the marina that some special effects were in order.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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The Hobart, Washington yellow submarine on 276th Avenue SE

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In a circle of true Friends each man is simply what he is: stands for nothing but himself. No one cares twopence about any one else’s family, profession, class, income, race, or previous history… That is the kingliness of Friendship. We meet like sovereign princes of independent states, abroad, on neutral ground, freed from our contexts.

C.S. Lewis

“When did this become a thing?” I asked myself indignantly. I’d always hoped that as we Gen Xers progress through life, we would grow out of our myopic high school cliques. In high school and even long before, I was appalled at the cruelty kids could show those who were unlike themselves. To be accepted by the cliques, you had to conform, and that often meant dialing down your empathy to outsiders to fit in.

The obvious answer is that it’s always been a thing. The thing being to ostracize, mock, and isolate ourselves from those who are different than us. We find it safer, simpler, easier to coexist with people who look like, act like, believe like ourselves than who have different hair, different brands of clothing, different politics.

In the 2010s there was a disturbing resurgence of high school politics amongst adults. We argued about who started it, with both sides pointing their fingers at each others’ leaders and actions. Now, locally at least, it’s in vogue to treat those of different belief systems as lesser. Simply saying that someone is different from us doesn’t suffice; we might now consider them inferior, as if their faith choices or party preferences make them a substandard hominid.

Those who know me personally know that I have strong views on topics like faith and politics– and there are times when I come down like a thunderbolt on matters of principle. That is the glory of the First Amendment and a free country, that we have the precious right to speak openly and publicly. My beliefs come from a lifetime of hard knocks and a desire to see people unchained from governance, philosophies, and ideologies that limit their autonomy and identity.

Friends know this about me and respect my freedom to do so. They know they are free to disagree. They are aware that my loyalty to them does not depend on their approval of my ballot or latest blog post. I can treat them with respect even when their views are the polar opposite of mine. If the friendship no longer works, we are free to move along. You win some, you lose some, yet those who stick around are generally the ones you’re the most authentic with.

In matters of love, it is imperative that we find someone who shares our values. That is a separate conversation. But in matters of friendship, when in our adult lives, as we ripen and grey, did it become cool to disassociate from those who don’t share our political and religious views? It’s quite normal for our closest friends, the knights of our round table, to share some of our deepest beliefs. Yet why can’t we have friends who share our interests and not our faith or party?

This trend perplexes me. Some of my most cherished friends and family have very different beliefs than my own. We’ve been together too long, or been through too much together, to talk about politics and religion when we have precious time together. We may campaign for radically different candidates and might never set foot inside each others’ religion. We might have moral or ethical reasons for not supporting each others’ stuff. That “stuff” is not what our relationship’s about, though. We love each other as we are and stay off the contentious topics that could divide us. They understand that I’m outspoken about my “stuff” and I respect their right to be outspoken about theirs.

In the Seattle area, being of a certain political persuasion can result in stereotypes, assumptions, and just weird behavior. “Oh you’re one of those,” I’ve heard. I can be having a wonderful conversation, then the other person realizes I’m not necessarily in agreement with their preferred presidential candidate. Suddenly a hilarious and warm discussion becomes strained when I’m “outed.” I don’t see how that has anything to do with the commonalities we share or that it’s even relevant to the conversation. But it’s a thing, a measuring stick that judges our friendship compatibility quotient.

Similarly, there are times I’m deep in a jocular dialogue with those who are closer to my political beliefs, but then I’ll mention a cause I’m passionate about and lose them. Some of the causes I’m most involved with tend to be considered more “the others'” causes– such as animals and nature. Inwardly I’m thinking, “I’m sorry, why do I have to be exactly like you to be worth your time?” I never thought I’d see this dynamic escalate as I veer towards middle age. It’s like High School, Part Deux.

I love a good debate. Not an argument, but a reasoned, logical, articulate back and forth that fleshes out the fundamentals of an issue. I don’t mind intelligent debate with friends when the primary goal is to understand each other rather than change each others’ minds. However, when is the last time you saw a true Lincoln-Douglas exchange on a political stage? Instead, candidates attack each other personally– “moron!” “putz!” “bastard!”– rather than offering rational explanations of how they will try to fix current affairs. In like manner, we emulate this, attacking people personally instead of explaining our values and convictions. It’s spreading. It’s scary.

Why ostracizing those different from ourselves is so serious is that it could cause a new civil war. It’s certainly caused a social chasm in the Seattle area. This isn’t being a doomsayer, this is calling out the reality of what this growing problem could cost us. If we turn on our family and friends for not being our clones, we’re lost. If we cut off communication because someone doesn’t vote the same, we’ll become even more suspicious of them. If we are a member of a non-religious or non-political organization or circle of friends, and start bringing politics and religion into it, we could shatter the group and its mission.

We all belong to organizations or circles of friends that share our values. That’s where our values are affirmed and we can fight for what we believe is right. But those are not the only islands we should live on. We’re part of a larger community, state, country that must hang together or assuredly will hang separately as Ben Franklin said. If people in my historical circles begin to associate only with those who agree with themselves politically, for example, we’ve just cut out some of the strongest advocates of preservation. We lose our effectiveness. If a cultural organization, united because of descent from a particular ethnic group, starts making one side of the political spectrum or the other feel unwelcome, the group could lose its under 50 crowd and become obsolete.

We have Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and all manner of venues via which we can blare our steadfast convictions to the world. I do. Those I like and love know they can take it or leave it. I love sharing my reasons for not giving up no matter the odds and why I believe in a life after this. I want them to have hope and know that nothing is impossible. It is not a requirement for my friendship or devotion, though. No one at a holiday meal has to plow through a 2500-word diatribe on my defense of Civil War monuments before we eat. It is not relevant to the occasion. If politics and religion do come up, then I believe in equal air time. If it becomes a one-sided bashing session, one may tactfully switch topics and redirect those present to a more joyful subject.

You can be passionate, outspoken, contentious, outraged, and risk public ridicule while doing so without being a jerk to your friends personally. I fear that being able to exercise one’s rights while maintaining relationships with those who disagree is becoming a lost art. We can value what we have in common, what drew us together in the first place, and not discuss the topics the knives come out over when it’s not necessary.

Some of the men and women I most admire don’t share my politics or religion. I admire them because of their expertise, their kindness, and very often, their outlandish humor. Being in their presence makes me more joyful and more knowledgeable. Their positive qualities help others be better human beings. Why would you not want to be around funny and smart people? Because they voted for the other guy? I understand maintaining certain ethical boundaries with others and severing toxic relationships. But in general, why can’t you go grab a cold one and kick back with someone who voted for the other guy?

Life would be very boring indeed if we limited our interactions to people who looked, talked, or voted like ourselves. Being exposed to other viewpoints challenges me to improve my rational defenses of my own “stuff” as well. Friends can offer constructive criticisms, help us practice empathy, and aid in building bridges to be able to mutually problem solve with people who aren’t like us. If one of Washington’s five volcanoes blows, I’m not going to run solely to those who worked on an initiative with me, I’m going to seek out the best qualified people to help my community survive.

We can hold to our values, fight for our freedoms, and still cherish diversity in our friends. A true friend knows us as we are and enjoys what we have in common. We have geek culture friends, workout friends, church friends, service organization friends, book club friends, foodie friends, slow stroll in the woods while discussing existential crises friends. We have friends for all reasons, all seasons. Plus those aforementioned morons and putzes and bastards might be the best cycling partner or the most well-connected advocate to advance your ministry to the homeless.

Imagine how bland and colorless life would be if only the Republicans were allowed to go to restaurants with you, or the gym was only open to Democrats, or only Libertarian friends were allowed to call you at 2 in the morning when they had a startled-from-their sleep-level epiphany about their third to last passionate romantic entanglement. It’s also noteworthy that those whose “stuff” we disagree with often have the deepest scars in common with us, be it betrayal, abuse, or abandonment. Survivors come in all shapes and sizes.

Yes, there are limits to what we can tolerate and I am not equating all values or belief systems. There are many dangerous people in this world as well, people who take advantage of our kindnesses and good deeds. We can and should pay attention to that gut instinct that tells us we are playing with fire. I am saying that we can practice a little more respect and empathy for those around us. We can be strong advocates for our causes and still be able to work with those with differing views.

The bottom line is that we can have friendships that are founded upon non-political and non-religious interests. It may not be fashionable to do so, but we will become an increasingly polarized and suicidal nation if that keeps slipping away.


Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.

Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.

Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Albert Camus

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Driving down 7th Avenue near Market Street in Kirkland, you may be startled by a group of people dressed in gauzy white dancing on the lawn.

While not a fan of the ghosts and gore part of Halloween, I had to stop and admire the thought that went into this macabre display.

What is so striking is the frozen motion, as if you interrupted something you were never supposed to see and time stopped.

While I miss the Barbie zombie display from last year, so far this seems to be one of the more elaborate setups in Kirkland. And certainly the most graceful.

©2019 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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This last weekend KOMO News aired a jarring special report about the state of Seattle. KOMO’s Eric Johnson rightfully called our region’s many illegal encampments what they are– dens of addiction. He pointed out that homeless people in general do not live in their own lawless filth; addicts do.

There is nothing compassionate about allowing addicts and the mentally ill to wallow in dangerous and unsanitary conditions– or expecting the general public to tolerate it. Local leaders seem strangely disconnected from the harsh environmental and public health and safety problems that the Seattle area’s tolerance of addiction causes.

This sparked another train of thought on Seattle culture. It’s not just Seattle that’s dying, civility in Seattle is dying. There has been a radical change in local culture in the last couple of decades that has natives feeling like aliens in their own city. Perhaps this decline in civility is universal. Perhaps we, the human race, have become too comfortable, too self-absorbed, to the point that life has become all about us, a collective narcissism.

Hang around our region and you will hear talk of the Seattle freeze. Locals like to debate if it’s real, and no matter what they decide, I hear the same locals discussing bad driving, road rage, rude behavior, and social stigmas. It’s clear that as our population has changed with the influx of high tech workers and money, creating enclaves of people who only associate with like people, we have become more distant from our neighbors, more suspicious, more aloof. Call it what you will; this is not the Seattle of 20 or 30 years ago.

Allow me to give some examples. At Christmastime I was thrilled to have family here from out of town. We went to the Pike Place Market, a couple of us wearing festive holiday hats. We were openly jolly and took some great photos at the Gum Wall, pig statue, and other spots. At the same time we noticed that in the midst of all the holiday festivities most people were quiet, reserved, even morose. We noted that those we did connect with were inevitably from other states.

Jogging over to Westlake we happened upon a young man in a loud holiday hat and told him it was good to see someone else in the holiday spirit. 20 years ago, there would have been a spark of recognition, like “my people!” Instead, he was embarrassed that we spoke to him and said something rude. We were taken aback and at that point began to discuss this very topic.

You might have heard of North Dakota nice. I’ve been shocked at how open and friendly people are in that state. I’ve encountered similarly nice people in Montana. Upon arriving at one store in Grand Forks, a man exiting the store took three steps back and held the door open for me. I thought he was going to flirt but he kept going. I was stunned and asked a friend what that was about. That’s North Dakota nice– people have good manners there. I told her that rarely happens in Seattle; men barge in front of women and show almost no interest in chivalrous (or even just plain polite) acts.

In a North Dakota bar I talked to people I’d never met before, like a happily married farmer, for hours. We found some common ground and carried on like we’d known each other for years. Immediately upon contacting the owners of an ancestral property, I was invited over. Two hours later I was having lemonade with them in their kitchen. One has since passed on, but I still keep in touch with the other. These are not things that happen much in Seattle. You’re not invited to sit with a group of strangers or welcomed like family.

In the greater Seattle area many people react with great discomfort or coldness if you merely speak to them at the grocery store. They will often just ignore you as they paw through their phone. Instead of saying “excuse me,” they will walk right between you and the shelf, or grab something from directly in front of you. It’s like you’re not even there. Sometimes I’ll say, “oh excuse me, am I in your way?” just to call attention to the fact that they are literally right in my space. This also happens in the grocery line as the person behind you breathes down your neck and bumps into you.

The same is true of our driving habits. Many Seattle drivers have a horrific habit of following too closely. If you can’t see my rear tires, you are too close. That is a rule of thumb all drivers should follow. But as Dave Barry said, we all believe we are above average drivers. We all think we can continually creep up on the car in front of us in gridlock and never hit them. Yet many someones hit many other someones every day and the whole freeway gets backed up as a result.

Left lane campers are a tremendous problem around here too. The left lane, by law, is for passing. If someone wants to go faster than you, you need to move right and let them by. I wish the Washington State Patrol would make this their emphasis because one 50 mph slowpoke in the passing lane can slow down 405 from Lynnwood to Renton. These people generally refuse to move no matter what you do to get their attention. Most seem oblivious. Some might be self-appointed speed control patrol. Who knows. But you need to stay out of that lane if you’re holding up traffic no matter what your motivation.

In the past couple of years I’ve noticed an alarming number of people on our local freeways who drive far below the speed limit even when there are optimum traffic conditions. This often happens in the carpool lane. This almost never happens in the far right lane. They can literally slow down the freeway for miles. It’s very dangerous. Similarly, many drivers go far below the speed limit up hills or can’t maintain a consistent speed, then go 10 over down the hill when the speed limit has been the same the whole time.

Many mornings I find myself behind Stardrunks. These drivers operate at erratic speeds and/or weave back and forth. Suddenly, upon the appearance of a Starbucks, they’ll slam on the brakes, make a death-defying right turn, and only signal after they’ve begun the turn if they signal at all. Being behind people who haven’t had their triple grande mocha can literally be like being behind a drunk. They will also make sudden lane changes to make the quick turn into the Starbucks. If I were in another town I’d ask what’s in the water. In this case I marvel over the power of that joe.

Ah, turn signaling… a dying art. People in these parts seem to forget that there’s a little lever coming off the steering column that can be activated with a quick flick of the wrist. Law requires them to signal before changing lanes, turning into a side street or driving, and merging. Using the turn signal is important for their safety and others’. But thanks to an all-consuming laziness or apathy, using turn signals to announce your intentions is going the way of the dodo. They can’t be bothered. Or they’re too absorbed in some piece of technology inside the car to care what goes on outside the car.

Speaking of merging, I have personally asked the Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State Patrol to start PR campaigns that throw out Driver’s Ed 101 tidbits on social media. People here can’t merge. RCW has long said that when a lane is ending on a highway drivers need to signal and yield to those in the lane that is continuing. But there are various theories as to what we’re supposed to do, which ultimately results in traffic slowing or stopping as everyone hits their brakes while getting mad about who’s supposed to be merging where.

(There has been legislation introduced to make zipper merging the law– you alternate one car from each lane. If that changes, WSDOT and WSP need to go all out educating the public on the change.)

I mentioned speeding. I’m not a “do the speed limit or else” type. I am aghast at the reckless speeds I see every day– 55 in a 35, 40 in a school zone. Two days ago I saw a man slow down for a red light, then he decided his time was more important and he chose to go right through the intersection anyway. Not the first time I’ve seen this lately– it’s the third time. Stop signs seem to have become optional, particularly on the Eastside. Come to a full stop at a stop sign in Bellevue or Kirkland and you can be honked at. Instead, people choose to blow right through them or just slow down a little and keep rolling. It’s not a pause sign, it’s a STOP sign.

Don’t even get me going on roundabouts– it seems we have both extremes in operation at these delightful donuts. Some people are thoroughly confused by them and will just stop, sitting there stupidly until someone honks at them. Some gun it and blow through these without regard for others. I’ve seen folks drive right up and over the landscaping in the middle. This is another piece of Driver’s Ed 101 our state agencies could be explaining to the masses but all I get is silence.

Shopping and driving are where frequent encounters with rudeness and indifference occur. Another arena for sick and selfish behavior is in our homes. Despite civil or city noise rules, without regard for others’ health, kids, pets, sleep, jobs, guests, babies, or right to quiet enjoyment, people crank up their TVs and music to movie theater level at all hours and live like it’s Wrestlemania. I have been through hell with such people. I’ve been repeatedly threatened when I exercised my rights and pointed out that their chaos does not belong in my living space.

I’ve reached a point that I don’t believe human beings should be allowed to live in adjoining units unless soundproofing between units is mandated by state law. I know many people who’ve had to deal with disgustingly loud and uncivilized neighbors. The property managers or owners will rarely enforce the rules and the cops don’t like to be involved in civil matters. So law-abiding working folks, excellent tenants, are expected to just tolerate the madness no matter what damage it does to their lives.

Just tonight I had a neighbor’s guest block in my car. It could have been innocent yet I was sadly not surprised by the response. Instead of moving their cars, such guests will say they’ll just be a minute (soon 10 minutes) and then I’m stuck. In this case, I politely told the guest that I might need to leave later and asked her to move a bit. She snapped at me, saying I should have parked somewhere else if I needed to get out. That’s not the point; the point is that she’s blocking my spot. She did move and I put a road cone in front of my vehicle to protect my spot. As I told a friend, I would never dream of being that rude to someone in their own home.

(P.S. The road cone disappeared that night and has not been seen since. So now it’s okay to steal as well?)

Every day. This is every day in Seattle now. “I’m more important.” “My time is more important.” “What I want is more important.” That’s how we shop. That’s how we socialize. That’s how we drive and park and live. Every day idiotic daredevil driving endangers the lives of others and sometimes takes lives. Every day we move a little farther back from human civilization into some sort of relational Dark Ages. The really sick part is that we’re getting used to it, “oh, that’s just Seattle now.”

No. I don’t accept that. I don’t like that some people only associate with people who look like them, or have expensive hair or clothes like them, or believe what they believe. We used to celebrate what we have in common; now it seems like Progressives can’t be friends with conservatives and Methodists are avoiding the Mormons. We’re Americans, people, a diverse bunch with a common heritage, language, and culture who are supposed to be able to work together to preserve the republic regardless of our differences. Instead our brains are filled with a constant barrage of taking head rhetoric that wants us to look at each other funny and deprive others of their constitutional freedoms when their thoughts aren’t our thoughts.

Seattle is a paradox. Elected officials like to trumpet our alleged inclusiveness and diversity while openly ostracizing and ridiculing viewpoints that aren’t as narrow as their own. Those who disagree can be called haters, racists, bigots. There is no respect for viewpoints outside of the same myopic “tolerance” that is turning this city into a giant Superfund site. Is it any wonder that the larger culture reflects these deep chasms, this distrust, this gaslighting and crazymaking? It reminds me of high school, where the “cool kids”– generally the rich jocks– acted intellectually and morally superior to the rest of us when they were neither. If some did condescend to speak to the “others” it was usually because it was on a topic important to themselves. Or to put them down.

Next time you’re at the grocery store, may I suggest saying something kind to a complete stranger instead of shunning them? Or helping the woman struggling around the store on crutches? Maybe returning a cart for an old man or thanking the bagger and the cashier? What about finding out the name of the man selling Real Change even if you have no interest in the publication? Could we say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me,” use our turn signals, drive like there are other people on the road, and park within the lines? Is that so hard? We all learned this; somewhere along the way we’ve decided we’re too good for it. Or we’re too busy. Or manners are only for the peons.

Let’s break this freakish, frigid, nasty rudeness and oblivion that has a stranglehold on our city. Every time we decide we’re not going to practice basic manners or good driving we’re taking another brick out of the edifice of human civilization. This is how you lose a civilization. These little offenses become larger offenses. The larger offenses become the new normal. We become so exasperated with what’s normal that we too are sucked into the void of incivility. Zombies create other zombies. We’re better than that.

We might never become North Dakota nice or have Montana manners. We might never address our elders as Mr. and Mrs. or sir and ma’am. We can practice human decency and choose to maintain a conscious awareness of how our actions affect others. I know some of you will point out the influx of other cultures and the number of out-of-staters (ah hem, Californians) who have moved here. Formerly outside influences can change a local culture, for better or worse. I’m highly concerned about the lack of value people from outside of Washington place on our local environment, especially our wildlife and trees. But if locals hold the line and maintain some semblance of normal, we can not only preserve what’s good about Seattle but help make those manners, objectiveness, and kindness normal for our new neighbors as well.

Seattle is dying, Eric Johnson. I agree. But not just physically. Our civility is dying. There is a cultural rot. A spiritual stench. A loss of human empathy and emotion. An acceptance of narcissism as the new normal. I am superior to you. I need to get somewhere faster than you, therefore I am justified in risking your family members’ lives in traffic. I already know what’s best so there’s no point in listening to you. I have no regard for your feelings, your personal space, your pain. You, by the very nature of your political and religious beliefs, are inferior to me and I want nothing to do with you. You don’t look like me, you don’t drive a car like mine, you clearly are not on my level.

No. No no no. Let’s stop this. It is a cancer. It is a blight. Choose to say one kind word today to someone in public and we can all start rolling back this red tide. Ignore the divisive power-hungry politicians. Tune in, be aware, be objective, be different. Let’s coin a new phrase– Seattle Civil. We might not all be comfortable with outgoing and gregarious greetings or stepping out of our social comfort zones. But we CAN– WE MOST CERTAINLY CAN— be civil to our neighbors. They are not ghosts, they are not “lessers.” They are every bit as real and human and vulnerable as we are. Speak to them as if they matter. They do. As much as you do.

Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.

Vince Lombardi

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©2019 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.


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