Back at the airport on my way home after a long day that started much earlier than Mrs. Chako normally starts her day.
I owe you a lot of observations about life since last week. Pictures and snippets. Of a wedding. Of family. Of poker. Of children. Of work.
Today I give you some observations about Portland.
- Portland is nice. Everyone and everything. Don't get me wrong - there are still yucky things like any urban setting. Run down buildings here and there. I'm sure there is crime, although its never affected me. Saw a few homeless people. But even the homeless people seem more decorative than anything else. Not threatening. Not obnoxious. Just part of the landscape. And I'm sure there are yucky people - they just had the day off, apparently.
- Portland is happy. Like the guy who sold me my water at the Rite Aid this morning. Although his happiness might have been due to the 40 ounce Monster energy drink he had next to the register. Or a few other substances. He made a comment that he was working on a script. Or maybe he said scrip. Could be a friend of Dr. Pauly's. Either way, he was a walking ray of caffeinated, hopped-up sunshine. Him and the Starbucks guy. Who explained the whole thing about copyright infringement for the Super Iced Chai Frappaccino Cream drink thingy. When all I really wanted was a vanilla latte.
- Portland is customer service. Like the fast-talking guy at Subway. Unlike the McDonald's workers in my hometown who work at a snail-like pace and prefer to employ the "if I don't look directly at you, you're not there and I don't need to help you" strategy of customer service, this dude was on it. He didn't look like the kind of guy you'd expect it from - weird earrings and tattoos, mohawk dyed red. But this guy lined up three sandwiches at once (by himself), had the sauces and veggies prepped and ready while the meat and cheese was toasting, and even rearranged our orders to be more cost effective. And did it all with a really adorable smile (for a guy with a red mohawk). Go figure. Maybe my expectations have been significantly lowered over time, but he was a breath of fresh air.
- Portland is unique. People pride themselves on being different. From clothes, to hair, to jewelry, to thoughts . . . don't try to put these people in a box. I saw two red mohawks tonight - one on the 20-something Subway guy. And one on some 60-year old or better grandpa with a skull ring and a button down denim shirt on. Go figure. Conformity is not high on the priority list, necessarily. Neither is plastic surgery and other superficial things. Neither is bathing, sometimes.
- Portland is white. For as unique as Portlanders (Portlandites? ? ? ) are in looks, thought, and expressions . . . Portland is white. Coming from Seattle where the diversity is pretty high . . . well, Portland is white. We ate at a Thai restaurant today. The waiters were white. The bussers were white. I didn't see in the kitchen, but I bet some of the cooks were white. The hostess was an albino. It's the largest collection of relatively liberal, diverse-thinking white people I've ever seen.
- Portland is convenient. The airport is concise and manageable. Clean. Well-marked. Internet is free. The Tri-Max (train) stops there - takes me straight downtown, two blocks from my client. No rental car. No parking hassles. No nothing. All for $4.50 per day. Makes a day long business trip to this city one of my most efficient days.
I'm sure I've oversimplified it. But if I have to travel for work, just make it like Portland. At times like this, when I'm stressed and busy and crazy . . . well, its the closest thing to a vacation I can get.
When I catch a breath again, I'll let you know how we married my sister in law off, killed a bottle of 18-year old McCallan, misread the suits on the board and lost my chip stack to my husband, and survived the killer death fog of Seattle.
Now, I gotta go debit something.