Interactions: The Northwesterman

Today is the first in an ongoing series in which I will post little snippets of my actual life which by its unique, bizarre or darkly humorous quality deserves some mention for posterity (or a novel).


On a small flight from Seattle to Portland, a man in his early 30s across the aisle shared that he had just returned from a three-month fishing trip at the Port of Homer in Alaska.  Of course “trip” translates to arctic expedition to feed humanity with sea life.   He then remarked about my turquoise embedded ring.  He presented an ornate cross with the same turquoise rock pattern.  He said he’d carried this cross for many years wherever he went, probably both as good luck and reminder in faith.  For some reason it resonated with him and was very profound.   I regret telling him I bought it off Etsy.


This guy said he came to America seven years ago. Well, in seven years my dear, with all your degrees, professional jobs, and your fancy Toyota, you haven’t learned a lick of conversational English to make this night any better.


For a hot moment I considered joining the Navy as an officer. Then so coincidentally while latte-ing it up at Castro’s Reveille outpost, I overheard two young men talking about their military service.  I took a chance to talk to one of them who revealed he was training into the Coast Guard at Petaluma.  The conversation wasn’t that revealing but when I suggested how exciting and wonderful his new future would be, he remarked that joining was “his last option.”  And I surely left it at that.


I suspected this woman running a Scandinavian food cart on Portland’s Division Street was from Minnesota. The fact she was making lefse burritos (a take on a Norwegian street food of lefse wrapped hot dogs) was the ringer since Minnesotan Norwegians eat and promote it so much.  She said her family was from Western MN, which usually means either Willmar, Montevideo or Mankato. There’s no need to further ask which city since they all share a common fate — their children leave for higher pastures.


While walking along Market Street, I was caught in awe at the sight of three beautiful new Muni buses stopped in a row across from the Twitter building.  These are the New Flyer Xcelsior buses with crisp automotive design and LED lights, and are made in St. Cloud.  I thought, how interesting that buses manufactured in a small backwater Minnesota city now powers the transportation future of the nation’s brightest hub of technology.  Ya betcha!

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