I’m at the front of the bus. The man sitting next to me is having (a very loud) conversation with the bus driver about all the places he’s been and his opinions of those places. He doesn’t like Philly. Says you can’t speak your mind out there unless you carry a baseball bat and a pit bull you haven’t fed in a few days. Remind me never to go to Philly. He doesn’t like all the “crazy mormons” in Salt Lake City although it’s relatively safe compared to Philly (ya think?) He enjoyed his time in Atlanta, but his favorite spot is a little town in Connecticut. I don’t remember the name of the town, but apparently you won’t meet a nicer group of folks than in that little beach town. He begins to talk about how Seattle’s agreeable too. He’s not as enthusiastic about it as he is about Connecticut town, but he seems to like it until he’s interrupted mid sentence: “Seattle used to be nice bout 25 years ago.” The gruff, raspy voice came from the man sitting across from him, “used to be nice before all those Californians started coming up here.” I swear he looked right at me.
I mustered up some confidence: “Well, what’s wrong with California?”
The man sitting next to me starts telling me about how he used to live in this awful place called Long Beach (I swear the guy has lived everywhere) and how it was a pretty violent and drug ridden neighborhood, but I mention I’m from Huntington Beach and I think it’s a pretty nice place. “Oh ya, ya I’ve been there. Huntington is a nice area,” he agrees and we’re interrupted again by the dark, sinister voice “Ya, but all you come up here to take Seattle’s jobs; you’re taking our money.”
“Um, I came up here for school and because I think Seattle is so beautiful,” I argue. “And I work for a non-profit, so I’m definitely not up here for the money.” Ha, take that. I’m a little offended now. He’s made this personal.
“Well good for you, but the majority take the money out of California and come up here for the jobs. There are no jobs in California.”
Crap, this is my stop. I should have told the guy that I’ve met MANY more people that are transplants to the Seattle area than I’ve met natural born Seattleites. And they weren’t from California either. Based on his logic, he should consider the whole country is trying to take over Seattle. I should have told him that duh people move to where the jobs are – our society is built on capitalism. Competition is a good thing; it creates an economy where we’re constantly striving to do better. Without competition we’d all get complacent. Would he NOT move from Seattle if all the jobs were in California? If he would, he’d be a hypocrite; if he wouldn’t he’d be an idiot. I should have said all this to him, but then I’d have left the bus screaming, pulling my hair out, looking like a raving lunatic. Instead, I just stood smiled at the bus driver when I gave him my usual “thanks” and got off the bus only wondering what could have been…