Back in Seattle

January 18th, 2009 by Paul

Airports sometimes seem to be worlds unto themselves: not quite a part of their worldly location, looking more like other airports than the cities or countries they inhabit. All duty free shops look the same, regardless of what language the signs are in.

In this way airports provide the liminal experience between vacation and work, or a life in one city to another. By the time we had sat down at Charles de Gaulle airport, I felt I had already left France. It would not be long before we would in the below-freezing temperatures of Chicago and then to the foggy, gray skies of Seattle.

So far, the culture shock has been minimal. US dollars looked a bit odd at first, and I still sometimes think I need to say “bonjour” when I enter a store or café, or say “au revoir, bon journée” when I leave.

While such things aren’t necessary here, I did have my reintroduction to the peculiar brand of Seattle politeness as I was waiting for the bus. The bus approached the stop and opened its door. No one was getting off the bus, but everyone waiting paused for moment, a couple feet away, wondering who would be the first to board.

I didn’t hesitate: I walked right in and was the first person on.

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