The official slogan of Portland, Oregon, is “The City That Works” - but the UNofficial and UNabashed slogan is “Keep Portland Weird”.
Granted, I was there only once, for a grand total of 12 whole days, but based on that one visit last month, I believe that Portland’s populace is doing a pretty good job of living into their UNstated weirdness.
So, what’s so weird about Portland?
MY TOP 5 REASONS WHY PORTLAND IS WEIRD
#1) Driving – First of all, Portland drivers inexplicably stop their cars, not only at red lights, but at yellow lights as well! (Where I’m from, people not only don’t stop at yellow lights, they speed up at red lights!)
Secondly, drivers in Portland will also stop their cars when pedestrians have entered the crosswalk. Actually, it’s worse than that. Portlanders will stop their cars if a pedestrian even intends to enter a crosswalk. (Again, where I’m from, drivers speed up if they see a pedestrian enter a crosswalk!)
Lastly, drivers don’t/won’t use their horns. During my recent dozen-day stay in busy downtown Portland, I heard a car horn honk only once - and according to the license plate, the offending driver was from New Jersey!
Moral to the story - It’s as if folks in the City of Roses actually enjoy where they are so much that they’re in no hurry to be somewhere else, or beat someone else. They literally take the time to stop and smell the roses. Weird, right?
#2) Umbrellas – Portlanders are philosophically opposed to umbrellas. Now, everybody knows that it rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest - but the locals refuse to use umbrellas. Weird, right?
Moral to the story - Portlanders seem to handle whatever befalls them. If it’s rainy, they accept it. If it’s sunny, they accept it. They just deal with whatever life throws at them on a daily basis. So the umbrellas stay at home in an oversized flower vase in the foyer, as God intended. Perhaps Portlanders should be honest and just call these things "UNbrellas".
#3) Train tickets – Speaking of being honest, Portlanders are also philosophically opposed to checking commuters' train tickets. I rode the light-rail train all the way from the outskirts to the center of the city and back again every day and night for 12 straight days and nights, and no one ever checked to see if I had bought a ticket. Ever!
Of course, I didn’t know this on day one, so I cluelessly plunked down $51 for a 2-week rail pass. Silly tourist. In hindsight, that money would have been better spent if I had used it to buy a reconditioned 8-track player!
Moral to the story - The trains may run on a light rail, but the entire city transit association runs on the honor system. Weird, right?
#4) The factses about taxes - Portlanders pay no sales tax. None! Zero! Nada! So there’s no need to try and figure out what 6.75% of $14.99 is. Stuff simply costs only and exactly what the price tag reads, or what the shopkeeper says.
Moral to the story - In Portland, you can actually believe what you read, and you can actually take people at their word. Weird, right?
#5) What’s REALLY weird about Portland - I have saved the best for last. Perhaps the weirdest thing about Portland is that an American city that values, celebrates, promotes and models civility, courtesy, honesty and truthfulness is considered by the rest of us to be weird. Weird, right?