They say travel is broadening.
Certainly a case could be made that being away from home helps put a few things in perspective.
But if you go far enough, there’s a chance you will encounter a specific category of ignorance about American geography. That is, you are apt to run into someone who has Spokane and Tacoma confused.
Now let me make two things clear right away. I have nothing against Tacoma. In any event, I haven’t been there in years.
Also, please don’t infer that I think everyone in the Spokane area has an impressive mastery of U.S. geography. I believe I have previously mentioned the clerk in a downtown Spokane department store who asked if Michigan was in Chicago.
But let’s get back to Spokane/Tacoma confusion. There is a right way and a wrong way to deal with its various manifestations.
Let me show you.
• Someone is under the impression that Spokane is about 30 miles from Seattle.
Wrong: Offer a quick lesson in Washington geography.
Right: Say “Wish I knew why it takes me five hours to get there.”
• Someone asks if Spokane still has a distinctive industrial aroma.
Wrong: Confront the speaker with 2014 reality.
Right: Borrowing a line from “Sense and Sensibility,” say “In Spokane, the air is full of spices.”
• Someone believes Bing Crosby was born in Spokane.
Wrong: Present the facts.
Right: Say “He was born in Tacoma but his family thought they could do better, so they moved to Spokane.”
• Someone assumes the famous 1940 Galloping Gertie bridge failure took place in Spokane.
Wrong: Offer a polite correction.
Right: “Well, the winds through the Spokane Narrows can be unreal.”
Warm-up questions: Do you ever watch TV without also doing something else? How would you respond if someone observed you engaged in one of your favorite pastimes and sarcastically said, “Ah, a life well lived”?
Today’s Slice question: What went through your mind when you first noticed that your pet wasn’t climbing stairs with the same old zip?