Okay, let's start at the beginning. Let's talk about four-way stops.

...People Not Knowing How to Drive

Look, I am from Seattle and I agree: People in Seattle do not know how to drive. Let's discard all the theories about root causes for a moment. (Though if you must know, here's a brief catalog: a debilitating legacy of Nordic caution, passive-aggressive impulses overriding common sense, liberal-do-gooder impulses overriding common sense, a profound lack of snow-driving experience.) Instead, let's just talk for a second about one specific way that we can all begin to make things better: your four-way stop behavior. It's really very simple, people. Here is the rule, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation: "At a four-way-stop, the driver reaching the intersection first, goes first (after coming to a complete stop). If more than one vehicle arrives at the same time, the vehicle on the right goes first." Yes, we can all begin imagining many kinds of complex four-way-stop scenarios and then begin exploring deep, space-time-bending questions about those scenarios. But please, for just a moment, wrap your head around this one thing: IF YOU GOT THERE FIRST, GO FIRST! The failure of Seattle's drivers to follow this simple rule causes so many bottlenecks and rage-spirals, I feel like we could maybe solve the city's traffic mess and ratchet people's anger problems way down if everyone who arrives at one of our city's abundant four-way stops would just GO FIRST IF YOU GOT THERE FIRST. Please, Seattle drivers, for the greater good, I beg of you: Don't imagine you're making up for historical injustices, or your guilt about failing to tip your barista earlier that day, or that time you cut somebody off by sitting there and waiting at a four-way-stop to let someone else go first when it's actually, legally your right and responsibility to go first. Just fucking go! (If you got there first.) Thank you. Sheesh. PS: Having said all that, please never stop abandoning your cars in the middle of the road when it snows half an inch, Seattle. I kinda love that about you. ELI SANDERS


...Standing on the Escalator

If you have moved to Seattle from a world-class city that has lots of escalators at subway stations and other busy public hubs, then please skip this section and read the other parts of this package. They will certainly contain facts and details about your new home that are not so obvious.

But if you came from somewhere like Spokane, Boise, or Butte, please read what I have to say very carefully and more than once. Indeed, read these words until you can repeat them in your sleep. The trick, however, is to not just memorize this information but to put it to use, to make it a part of your life in this new and rapidly growing city.

Kelly O

Now, when you exit the Link train at the International District Station, or Pioneer Square Station, or Westlake Station, and use an escalator to return to the ground level, you have a choice: You can either move with the moving steps or stand on the moving steps. But here is the crucial thing: If you decide to stand, then you must do so on the right side of the escalator. Why? Because it leaves a space open for those who, for a reason that is none of your business, have decided to rush up the moving steps.

I know people in Idaho and similar sleepy states are not familiar with this modern thing called being in a hurry. And you are also fond of the good-people feelings you get from standing shoulder-to-shoulder with your best buddy, your dad-bodied boyfriend, your chubby hubby, or your baggage. It's all very friendly that way. We big-city types get all of that, and we do our best to accommodate as many of your very many small-town ways as we can. But when you are on that damn fucking escalator, break with those damn fucking small-town ways and obey this rule as strictly as you do the commandments in the book of your lord: standing on the right, walking on the left.

One more thing: The same law holds true when you're on descending escalators. Welcome to Seattle! CHARLES MUDEDE


...Solowheels

Look, mom! It's Rosie, the robot maid from The Jetsons! No, it's a unicycle Segway! No, it's... it's... some fucking optimize-every-aspect-of-my-life Solowheel motherfucker who's going to be 10 minutes early—instead of five minutes early—to his PechaKucha coffee-klatch thing in South Lake Union. GAH.

You're not optimizing your life by rolling around on that nerd wheel—you're ruining it. Let me explain why:

Riding a Solowheel means you're missing out on developing what my friend Becca calls the "Seattle butt." If you haven't noticed, people here have good asses. That's because they walk and bike everywhere. These activities distinguish our populace with round rumps. If you want to optimize something, optimize your ass by walking up and down the hills like an adult.

Mike Force

You moved here partially because this is the most beautiful place anyone has ever seen. How are you gonna enjoy the diversity of plant, crow, and people life in these parts if you're zipping past god's glory on a fucking electric wheel?

If you crash on a Solowheel, you don't get to have sex for three years. THREE YEARS. That's in the Solowheel contract. I've seen it. RICH SMITH


...Umbrellas

You've probably heard that "real Seattleites" don't own umbrellas. Instead, everyone buys one of those flimsy rain jackets that transform people into wizards. You've probably been told that all of this makes sense because it rains only when it's chilly here, and the "rain" in question is largely a sort of aggressive species of drizzle. Thus, an umbrella is overkill, plus awkward in the wind.

Don't listen to that nonsense. I've never been caught in the rain thinking, "Gee, I hate being so prepared to handle this situation with my umbrella! Guess my relative dryness is the price I pay for not being a 'real Seattleite.'" FUCK IT. Bust out the 'brollies. Let your transplant flag fly.

And while we're on the subject: Let's agree, right now, as a people, that umbrellas, like pens, exist in the realm of the public domain. Let us admit that no one truly owns an umbrella. They are but brief shelters from cloudwrath, freely lost and freely found. RICH SMITH


...Bagels

Good bagels are a necessary food group. Alas, there is not one true slightly-crunchy-yet-also-chewy New York–style bagel in this town, therefore there is not one good bagel in this town. Your choices are basically pricey Canadian bagels at Eltana or spongy, fat, shiny bagels nearly everywhere else. Bagel Oasis in Ravenna is serviceable (good schmears), and the Bean & Bagel in the University District is almost the real deal, but their bagels are kinda small. (Am I missing something? Let me know!)

In the meantime, one of you newbies needs to do this city a favor and open a decent bagel shop, even if it means you have to import the water. RICH SMITH


...Competitive Yoga Breathing

Yoga is not supposed to be competitive. I know this because that's what nearly every yoga teacher I've ever had has said at the beginning of his or her class. (It doesn't matter how limber you are; you can always return to child's pose.) And yet, when it comes to breathing, Seattle's yoga practitioners are expressive to the point of being oppressive. It's one thing to be connected to your breath—great! I'm happy for you!—and another to sigh so loudly that on every exhale you're practically bragging about how comfortable you are with your own goddamn presence. This isn't a matter of skill, and there's nothing Zen about it. Perhaps these competitive breathers should pay for their own private yoga instructor and leave the rest of us to quietly hyperventilate together. SYDNEY BROWNSTONE