You might have been wondering where I’ve been. Well, I’ve been in a lot of places. I’ve been wondering how the Cubs and the Yankees failed to make it to the World Series. I’ve been looking at various waterfalls. I’ve been binge watching Stranger Things 2 (who hasn’t?). But mostly, I’ve been sitting at work.

That’s right. I go to work and I commute. I’m becoming a businesswoman right before your very own eyes.

Baby Bean (my 2000s white suburu that every other person also drives) and I hit the road every morning and evening along with everyone else in the Portland metro area.

Lucky for me, I live in the city known for its friendliness which is evident in the way we drive. You may think I’m joking but I’m not. Oregonians are friendly drivers. We take the first page of the Oregon Driver Manual very serious when it says to share the road. If you see any unfriendly drivers, they are undoubtedly Californians.

After navigating through traffic in the morning, I head into my office, over to my desk area which I share with eleven other interns.

The other interns are great. They have a wide variety of skills and came from all around the United States (and one from Japan!). We get along well. We have lunch together and discuss topics such as movies, the NFL, and sandwich-making. Lunch is a grand time. Until someone mentions something they don’t like about Portland.

I am very protective of Portland. Portland is a grungy little city with a lot of issues but it’s my grungy little city with a lot of issues.

Here are just a few issues the interns have questioned or complained about:

  • Recycling
  • Mean bicyclists (that one is valid)
  • Slow speed limits/slow drivers
  • Lack of formal wear (AKA we wear jeans to work and to the clubs)
  • Our love of salmon

Oregonians’ driving habits are, by far, the hottest topic. Why are the speed limits so slow? Why don’t people drive above the speed limit? Why so friendly about merging? Why can’t people drive in the rain?

Great questions. My snarky retort is always, “Where are you trying to go so fast?”

My fellow interns come from cities where driving fast is what you do. I understand that. I drove around in Miami once and almost had my first panic attack. I’ve seen the aggressive nature of New York City drivers. Oregon just happens to be different.

The interns are not from Oregon so I have undertaken the duty of explaining and defending the culture of my home. Oregonians live a slower pace of life than the people of Miami, New York, and even Seattle. The way we drive reflects that part of our culture. Drivers on the road will let you merge because it would be rude not to and we are not rude people.

This is the way life is here. I lived in Spokane where the pace of life is even slower. That doesn’t mean Spokane is wrong, it’s just different.

We all experience shock when we experience a new culture. There are different reactions to a new cultural experience. One reaction is to hold on to our own ways so tightly that all we can do is judge others out of skepticism. Another reaction is to let go of what you know, deny the urge to judge harshly, and allow people to show you the culture, why it is that way, and how to participate.

I want to reitirate that different does not necessarily mean wrong. Different deviates from the known which is frustrating. It is why I have to defend Oregon drivers to frustrated people weekly.

While I don’t expect anyone to fully embrace the Oregon culture right away (especially since it isn’t perfect), I hope people approach new experiences with more openness. There is a lot to learn from new places and people. So don’t be abrasive, be embracing.

I may be biased but I find the slow pace of Oregon refreshing. There are a lot of places where everyone is trying to climb to the top of the corporate ladder or trying to out-Gucci others’ purses but that isn’t the vibe here. If you give it a little time, you realize the best parts aren’t about what you spend your money buying but what you spend your time doing and who you spend life with. I think that principle is best lived out in a slow-paced life.

I would apologize for this blog actually being a commercial for Oregon but I’m not sorry. Everyone can learn a thing or two from us.

2 thoughts on “Embrace

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