Only on Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 01/14/2024

Now that it’s a new year, it’s time to live up to our new year’s resolutions. It turns out you all resolved to get angry about people who drive Subarus. 

We’ve got multiple complaints about Subaru drivers, or perhaps one omnipresent bad Subaru driver. They drive too slow, they don’t use the right lane when it’s an option, and they only speed up when you try to pass.

For example, we have this post: Is it a silly vent not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings, or is it ageist, ableist and ignorant of the breadth of human suffering? 

If you said, “it’s just light-hearted banter,” then you were not the person responding to the post with outrage and disdain. They start with this reply: “I do hope you are never inconvenienced by growing older. If you happen to outlive your generalized rage and hatred of people who are struggling with disabilities, perhaps you’ll understand someday how difficult it can be to drive fast with the multiple ailments that afflict most people over time.“

Okay, saying “I do hope you are never inconvenienced by growing older” reminds me of the Yiddish saying, “May a child be named after you soon.” It’s a wish for the person’s untimely death! But sure, the poster’s the inconsiderate one here. 

Then the original poster understandably gets mad after this comment because now they’re being accused of being a shitty (and hopefully short-lived) human being by a stranger on the internet. Both people end up posting multi-paragraph essays that I admittedly didn’t have the patience to read. I skimmed them, and they were full of references to various laws with cryptic designations like RCW 46.61.425. 

I can’t imagine having the time or energy to research a law to prove a point on the internet. I’d just let the other person think they’ve convinced me or vanquished me or whatever rather than put in effort to look up what constitutes a moving violation. 

Why are we like this? Why do we assume that if someone is airing a mild complaint, it’s because they are ignorant to the suffering of others? Instead of yelling at people for what we assume is malice, why not put that energy toward something more productive, like campaigning for more frequent public transit, or playing pinochle? 

As one commenter so beautifully put it, “Why would anyone join a “rants” group and not understand people are going to rant? About garbage in cans, about stackables – about too slow and too fast drivers. There is no right answer and there is no easy fix – it’s a GD rants page.”

And I like their point. We live in a society where people have different priorities and different modes of being, and we are occasionally going to scrape up against each other for using public spaces in different ways. We know that we just have to take a deep breath and deal because the world will never mold itself exactly to the way we want it to be. But we can make funny snide comments about it on a group specifically designed to house funny snide comments about minor stuff that we know cannot be solved. 

And speaking of not wanting to be around people with different ways of living than us, we have this post: 

We have these initial reactions:  “100 year old sentiment – this is by no means ‘new’ news.” and “What a nice juicy piece of bait this smells like” and “You’re not the boss of me.”

Others think it is we who are the problem. One person says, “Mm, if we’re going to ask folks to leave the city attitude behind, we should probably work on the island entitlement, too”

What is this island entitlement people keep talking about? What do we feel entitled to that we shouldn’t have? Housing, broadband internet, a walk-in clinic, reliable ferry service? Maybe a bridge? (just kidding about the bridge! Please don’t wish that I never live long enough to understand why a bridge is bad!) 

Another person gives this explanation: “People from cities have strong boundaries because we are used to living in close contact with other humans. I always tell people who are interested in moving here to prepare themselves for “islandy” attitudes.”

Another says, “The island is a small town surrounded by water. If you aren’t used to living in a small town, you may be shocked that a lot of people know your business.”

Oh, so big city folks come with an expectation of privacy. And we want to peer into their windows.

One islander points out the irony of making this complaint an anonymous post: “Staying anonymous as you criticize others is a very “city” thing. We all know there’s no anonymity in a small town, lol”

Others point out that we’re not as special as we think. “I figure if you live 15 minutes from two major cities and can’t deal with how metropolitan things are, it might not be the city people in the wrong place.” 

Others encourage our city brethren to come here. One says, “Certainly we should only welcome new neighbors from bumbl-f%^*-nowhere, because who needs culture and education?”

I come originally from the suburbs, so I bring only a mediocre level of education, and no culture beyond what you can buy at the mall. I wonder if this makes me more or less welcome. My hope is I can fly under the radar ( a very city attitude) and not piss anyone off (a rural attitude). That’s why I don’t drive a Subaru. 

Others don’t care where people come from, so long as they’re not jerks. As one person elegantly puts it: “just don’t move here swingin’ your dick around and spewing what you think is your “special sauce” on the culture without doing some research. And leave your fucking white Porsche SUV in Bellievue.”

One person is surprised at the vitriol toward city folk. One says, “Are Seattle city types really that obnoxious? I’ve luckily only ever lived on Vashon my 7 years in this state. So I truly do not know what city folk are like. They can’t be that bad though?”

I honestly agree with this. Having lived on the East Coast, Seattle feels a lot less city than New York or Boston. There’s no proper subway system, so you have to do extensive research just to figure out how to get from one place to another on the bus. There’s plenty of greenspace, people are chill, and it takes forever to get a coffee at a coffee shop. There aren’t towering apartment complexes that blot out the sun. There aren’t multiple competing newspapers, no army of snow plows, and the mayor doesn’t remind you of a batman villain. So when Seattle people move to Vashon, it doesn’t strike me as a major cultural change. 

It turns out city-folk isn’t a description of people from urban areas, but rather ‘the other.’ One person said, “it used to be Californians we complained about. “We” being lifers and people who just moved here.”

So basically, anyone who doesn’t do things precisely the way we do is from the city, a cruel place of relentless privacy where people drive their Subarus poorly, and they want to bring that way of life here rather than adapting to our fast speed limits and prying eyes. 

Despite all this rancor towards city-folk newcomers, we’re still neighborly here on Vashon. As one person posted before the big windstorm, 

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

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