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The Seattle Way

I’m working at a coffeeshop today for the first time since the pandemic closed everything down. It’s a gorgeous day, sunny, bright, and not too hot. The city has been tooting along for a while now, partially open, plenty of places to buy coffee but no place to sit and enjoy it. Sitting here, it seems to me that this is the closest to normal Belltown has felt in a long while. Traffic rushes by steadily, locals are here with their laptops, and our tourists are down at the hacky Pike Place Starbucks instead of crowding the better places. The baristas sound excited to see their regulars. There’s energy here! Coffeeshop energy! It’s like working in the center of a hive, and I love it.

The speakers are playing: Joy to the world! To all the boys and girls! Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea. Joy to you and me.

The windows are open to the tree-lined street. The burr grinder next to the espresso machine is growling like a cranky civet cat. And there’s a guy to my left on a literal conference call, trying to out-shout the music. His lack of manners should annoy me, but it feels downright nostalgic. Pre-pandemic, there was always that one guy in the coffee shop. These days, anything non-pandemicky feels like a return to happiness.

Someone just turned the music up higher! LOL. Bring back that Seattle passive aggression. I’m here for it.

I remember this feeling. This Seattle feeling. We the people of the coffeeshop community want to take turns smiling thinly at conference call man and giving him looks that say, Can you fucking NOT? Unfortunately, conference call man won’t look up from his screen. So instead we will silently and collectively hate him until the end of time. It would never occur to us to say anything out loud, and if he says “Am I bothering you guys?” we’ll quickly shake our heads and insist it’s fine.

But our eyes will say: It is SO not fine.

This is the Seattle way.