Live in the Pacific Northwest area long enough, and you’ll start seeing some patterns about how people navigate driving and walking.
For example, one things area residents really struggle with is what to do when they encounter a car stopped in front of them.
It’s not completely uncommon to drive down a neighborhood road and see a car stopped, with the driver speaking with a neighbor or someone they know who’s running or walking.
The strange part is that you can almost take it to the bank that the car that drives up behind the stopped car will have no idea what to do. Unlike other areas of the country, where the driver would slow down and just go around the stopped car, Pacific Northwest drivers will stay in the lane and stop until the stopped car moves.
Yesterday, I was in the Starbucks parking lot. There were no spots, so I moved my car to sit perpendicular to a row of parked cars. I was probably blocking four of them. But I was sitting in the car, waiting to pick someone up, so I was able to move if any of the owners came out.
As I was positioning myself in reverse (so my reverse lights were on), a driver pulled into the parking lot and sat behind me. There was enough room for three cars, driving side-by-side, to go around me. So it wasn’t a matter of space.
Knowing how poor people in this area are at navigating this scenario, I grabbed my phone and started the clock. Amazingly, it took over 3:30 for this person to decide to go around me to get into the drive through line.
In those three-plus minutes, no cars entered the parking lot, and only one couple walked through it. It was completely unobstructed.
I just sat in my car, watching this driver wait patiently for me to do something. I never took my reverse lights off, because I was still in the act of going backwards.
And all that time, the person who drove in wanted to get into the drive through lane.
Having watched this for many years, I’ve only been left to conclude that people from the Pacific Northwest are very intent on following the rules. It never even occurs to them to drive around an obstruction – not if it means driving outside the lanes.