Last donut in Seattle

Allen is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. He’s warm, friendly, patient, and very, very kind – excellent qualities in a bus driver. However, he does have a wicked streak that he indulges every now and then — and Seattle bus riders have not been spared.

The so-called “Seattle chill” is well known and well documented. But it actually doesn’t bother us that much because we didn’t move here to put down roots and make friends, let alone have a neighbor bring over a house-warming casserole. What DOES bother us is the competitive politeness bolstered by well-disguised passive aggression.

In London, we queue (line up) for buses. And there’s a good reason for it. At rush hour, fully loaded buses have to pass up stops frequently. Fortunately, on most routes, buses come frequently enough that you won’t necessarily have to wait long for the next one — and the orderly queue that forms makes sure that the people who have been waiting the longest get first dibs on the next bus to arrive. Allen has watched it on YouTube and finds it quite amazing.

When a bus pulls up to a stop in Seattle, everyone waiting just looks at each other — daring each other to be the first to get on the bus — and hence the most selfish asshole. Alene is often the selfish asshole who breaks the deadlock. On a busy afternoon, the hesitation would drive Allen nuts! So he would count to five — and then start to close the front door. That would get everyone moving in a hurry!

And then there’s the business of donuts in the workplace. What happens with the last donut? Well, where I worked in London, it was considered courtesy, before taking the last donut, to make an announcement — “I’m having the last donut if no one wants it!” — and then wait for anyone to protest. Usually, you’re just told to have at it. You see, the person who takes the last donut is also responsible for clearing up — putting the box in the garbage, or washing the plate.

In a Seattle workplace, that last donut gets cut in half — then in half again — and into progressively smaller wedges. I wonder what the Greater Seattle record is for the smallest office donut remnant — measured in degrees of arc. And I wonder which company owns that achievement: Microsoft? Amazon? Starbucks? Zillow? Zulily? Has a Boeing engineer designed a jig that cut a donut with the precision of one second of arc? And will Top Pot Doughnuts discover a formula that produces a donut with the structural integrity to withstand being reduced to a one second sliver?

No one can bring themselves to just finish off the donut — because that would be so inconsiderate (and also involve the inconvenience of having to clean up afterwards.) Of course, Alene is not afraid to take the last donut — and she will clean up afterwards.

As for Seattleites forming queues? Don’t get me started! We have seen lines in Starbucks going from counter to door — with all of three people in them!! That’s another thing that drives Allen nuts. Of course — he’s not from Seattle.


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