In NW, we're prone to introspection ... judging by response to 'Wonder' series

Jan 10, 2012

We in the Northwest are prone to navel-gazing over matters related to our character and the things we do … and don’t do.

Maybe it is the months of clouds, mist and rain, but like the proverbial Eskimo has many ways for talking about snow, we in the NW apparently have many paths to introspection.

Judging by the popularity and number of comments on three of our most popular “I Wonder Why …?” stories:


… people of the NW are quick to wonder about these strange characteristics of our lives here.

We’ve gotten hundreds of great comments about these stories on our Website and Facebook posts –  both our own FB page and NPR’s FB page – and they’re worth a look if you haven’t already.

Here’s a smattering of those comments:

On the “Seattle Freeze:”

Seattleite commented: “… I spent a portion of my childhood in France and there was a similar vibe - you didn't talk to strangers on the metro, you used a quiet voice, you didn't intrude on someone else's space. That's what makes me comfortable, so maybe that's why I love living in Seattle.”

Anita said: “…Have you experienced "the Seattle grimace?" That's what you get when you smile at an unknown Seattleite in public--they know logically and socially that it's important to smile back, but they just can't justify it, so you get kind of a painful, sour-looking grimace in return. Niiiice!”

Stcelliott: “My boyfriend (born and raised in Philadelphia) says he saw plenty of people socializing on his last trip to Downtown Seattle... with themselves...”

NormaLu TobyTaber Wilcox on FB: “This article hits home. I have lived here 30 years. In my old home I knew and enterentained people all the time and sadly that did not translate to my Seattle area home. I love this place but it is not friendly...”

Josh Herrala on FB: “A city full of computer geeks largely from Northern European and Asian there really a mystery here?”

On Seattleites being “anti-umbrella:”

Xannymunk99: “Well, we need one hand for coffee and the other for cell phone and dog leash, so no umbrella.”

Falip: “When it's 'misting','sprinkling', or drizzling, the umbrella does no good, takes up space and can be awkward and heavy. For drizzled showers, are you really going to get that thing out?”

Drip Dry: “Native Northwesterns have Gore-tex skin.”

Cpos: “… Seattleites camp in the rain, work in the rain, play in the rain all without an umbrella because REI, Eddie Bauer, and others have made some fantastic clothes that are must haves if you like to play in the rain but don't like to get wet.”

Marilou Kishur on FB: “Someone needs to tell the TV show people. Seems whenever there is a Criminal Minds or other show set in Seattle, everyone is carrying an umbrella in a drenching rain.”

On whether we have an accent:

Shannon: “I spent two years teaching in New Orleans where my Seattle accent was a source of wonder for my high school students …”

Mac: “… While it is not an accent, north westerners will pause or "gap" in conversation whereas mid-westerners and some southerners function conversationally by interrupting and speaking over one another. This often leads transplants like my wife and I to suffer what we call "hoof in mouth" syndrom! ...just an observation.”

Elizabeth Nelson: “I worked in a call center here in Bothell, and I had a customer tell me she loved my ‘accent.’ I was shocked. I was never told I had one. She said people from up sound like we're singing our words.”

Justin Platts on FB: “Here's one I've ‘caught’ myself doing: You know where the remote'sat (all one word)?”

We love the comments, please keep ‘em coming.

(Thelonious Monk - Introspection video:)

When it comes to what you’re wondering about, the introspection continues:

Joya_marsh: “I wonder why people of the NorthWest are always sorry? They say "sorry" for excuse me, "sorry" for handing you something, "sorry" as an introduction to a statement or question, they are even "sorry" when I accidentally bump into them! Why are they so sorry all the time?”

so17: “As an owner myself, I wonder why Subarus are the car of choice in the PNW?”

Adrianna Culver: “I wonder why Seattle people are passive aggressive and will never tell you when you have spinach in your teeth or your fly is down. …”

Seattleite: “I wonder why so many people in the Pacific Northwest don't know how to drive in the rain.”

Rigru53: “… Why [do] people here ALWAYS(!!!!!!) laugh loudly in the theater. The moment the lights are off at the place that is called "theatre" people are at the verge of laughing. It doesn't matter if the play is a comedy, a drama or even a tragedy. ANY reason, ANY move, ANY word is good as a trigger for laughing. Even a pause is a reason even to laugh. The laughter is usually extremely loud and even sound hysterical.”

Suzanne Walsh: “… please do a story on why Seattleites always move slowly & get in your way but NEVER say excuse me. It's like there's no self-awareness.”

We’ll do our best to wonder about these and other curious matters in upcoming I Wonder Why …? Stories.

Thanks to KPLU intern Jon Klapel for gathering the comments.