Wednesday, April 4, 2012

PDX Observations

A few days ago, my room mate Paul and I were waiting for the MAX in downtown Portland. We had just gotten off the bus and were in Pioneer Square sitting on one of those brick ledges in the center of the hustle and bustle, minding our own business. I'll get back to this, but first let me preface it with a few reasons why I hate downtown Portland.

I try not to make a habit of going downtown. The first most annoying thing about downtown PDX is the street kids. I'm not talking about homeless people, those can be separated out into people that will most likely just ask you for change, and usually it'll just be a nonconfrontational sign that will only make you feel bad for like, two seconds. Street kids are these filthy, drug addled kids from the ages of 15 to 30 who usually end up choosing their own fates. They own dogs and travel in packs, asking for leftovers and saying things like, "You have a beautiful smile," UGH. A statistic somewhere I'm sure reads, "One in three street kids is hanging out with a needle in his arm ODing somewhere." They are intimidating, there I said it.

My next least favorite thing about downtown Portland is the canvassers. These people have the awful job of working for companies like Greenpeace and Children's International, and have to somehow use their wiles to coerce people into donating small amounts like $5 a day to Generic Make-You-Feel-Like-A-Shitty-Person Charity.  It's not like I'll ever give these people my money- I know too much. From having worked downtown for 3 years, I am all too familiar with how this works. I got stopped once, and ended up making him feel bad. He was working for Children's International, which is essentially a charity for orphans. I had recently gotten back from my 5 month stint in El Salvador volunteering for a girls only orphanage in the capital. As homeboy laid into me about how I could help them with less than a cup of coffee a day nonsense, I asked him if he'd actually even met a "real orphan" before. When he said no, I told him about what I had done, and he let me go on my merry way and even said something idiotic like "good for you". Now the only annoyance I have is when they do those reallllly irritating moves like when they won't let you walk by their stuck-out handshake, or when they give you question prompts like, "Do you care about children?" That is just setting you up for failure. I know the intended outcome of the what they are trying to accomplish, which is that I have to say yes or otherwise risk deviating from correct social etiquette. But no, I don't really care about children. Unless it's like, my nephew or something. I can't say that out loud, though, or people will judge me.

I also hate downtown because I used to work at Rock Bottom Brewery. Or, Where Dreams Go to Die. Hands down, the worst establishment in Portland. Aside from being ruled by an Iron Fist of corporate power, the managers liked to flex their little power muscle on it's slaves daily, providing mundane and demeaning tasks simply for the pleasure of doing so. I have never, ever been more angry or hateful or felt so stupid than when working for that company. Producing more waste than probably most small cities, the company is HIGHLY un-green, a characteristic for which many Portlanders are extremely proud. I also got my now exboyfriend a job there (I know, how could that go wrong), to which he responded by dumping me for a host/my friend. You could see why just being in the vicinity brings up a sad, almost aggressive hatefulness inside me.

Also, I am scared of crazy people. Legitimately scared of them. One time on a bus an older man got on with a really, really worn/used teddy bear that was dressed like a little boy and proceeded to coo sweet nothings into it's ear and touching it inappropriately. It ranked a "the world is ending" on the "how quick are you going to piss yourself" scale. Tweakers who talk to themselves are high up there as well. (Oh! Sweet pun!) There are a boatload of crazies in the 10 block vicinity of Pioneer Square, which I believe is attributed to some sort of nuthouse losing funding from Oregon or some bullshit so now all the unbalanced are wandering the streets free of medication. Why they choose the most densely populated part of town is beyond me, because in my experience they don't ask for money, but merely say cryptic things like, "Your time is up" and "Shirley said no".

So anyway, Paul and I are sitting there on our way to a Timbers game, and reveling in the fact that the sun has decided to grace us with its presence long enough to make us feel like shit later when it downpours. Two guys and a girl walk by us and one of the dudes says, "Hey- who are the Timbers playing tonight?" Paul responds, "Real Salt Lake." To which the guy says, looking straight at me, "I have those sunglasses, by the way," I just sort of stare back at him. I look at Paul as they walk away and say a little too loudly, "Why the fuck would I care?" My generic sunglasses are $5 from Walgreens. Paul and I burst into laughing spasms along with the stranger next to us, who remarks, "Do you guys like water? I like water!" Then Paul asks him, "Do you wear pants? I wear pants!" Why did he say it? I will be forever baffled by the outgoingness of Portlanders to the point of extreme over sharing. I couldn't even analyze it at the time because I was laughing so hard. Someone actually felt the need to tell me that "by the way" he had the same sunglasses as this stranger he would never encounter again in his lifetime. Maybe I'm just an asshole. You can take the girl out of Chicago, but you can't take the ingrained hatefulness of talking to strangers out of the girl. He has, however classified himself into a new kind of downtown-Portlander, but not one I really hate or fear because, well, it was just so damn funny.