Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

The Slice: When street smarts fail

I suspect Spokane isn’t the only place where this happens.

Surely at least a few other cities have similar street naming inconsistencies.

Anyway, here’s the deal. My wife and I live in a part of Spokane where virtually all the east/west streets have numbers for names. Except for ours.

One block north of us is an avenue named for a number. One block to the south of us is an avenue named for the next number, one higher. And we’re caught in between on a street named after a 19th century politician.

OK, it’s not a big problem. It is, however, a persistent cause for confusion among inattentive pizza delivery drivers, florists and others who assume that our street would adhere to the neighborhood’s sequential numeric road-naming logic.

People unfamiliar with the area see a sign for the previous street and simply assume ours will have the next number. Makes sense, right?

That’s why we have all sorts of puzzled people fetching up on our front porch, ringing our doorbell. I’ve gotten to where I can usually spot their confusion pretty quickly.

“You want the next street.”

Happy to help.

But this does create a little added pressure to keep our front walk shoveled.

I’ve always assumed our actual visitors – who virtually all come in the back way – can deal with a little snow if I haven’t quite gotten to it yet. Same goes for the newspaper carrier and mail person. But I really can’t have those arriving in error subsequently report that navigating our front walk was like clambering over a goat trail. I mean, who likes the idea of being badmouthed by total strangers?

Let’s move on.

Today’s pet peeve: May Cotton can’t stand it when she hears people pronounce “Washington” as if it has an R in it. “I have trouble believing so many Washingtonians are so poorly educated.”

(Insert your comment here.)

Progress report: About five months into retirement, here is the status of my heroic effort to avoid the classic pitfall of loitering in the kitchen and getting in people’s way – being “underfoot,” in post-career parlance – while I wait for the mail to come.

So far, so good. My rigorous schedule of communing with squirrels and mulling the possibility of shoveling snow has kept me from totally blocking the refrigerator.

Yes, living large, any way you look at it.

Speaking of shoveling snow: There seem to be two schools of thought about this in the Spokane area.

As longtime readers might recall, I am an advocate of leaving a little snow on the sidewalk for the sake of safer footing. My theory has always been that, in a place with thaw/refreeze cycles like ours, getting it down to the bare, pristine concrete is a great way to create a slippery, tailbone-busting icy glaze overnight.

So the other day, when I shoveled, I left a bit of snow on the sidewalk. As usual. A few hours later someone I don’t know went over that same stretch (and sidewalks in front of other homes nearby) with his snowblower. He left it clean as a whistle.

No, I didn’t go back out and shovel a little snow back onto the sidewalk. That guy meant well and did a good deed. Besides, neighbors who might have seen me talking to squirrels probably have their doubts about me already.

This month’s Slice question: My late father was a great guy in many respects. I loved him and will take my abiding respect for him to the grave. But here’s the thing. He was a little crazy. At least in his later years.

As his doctor once explained to me, “He doesn’t have dementia, he’s just nuts.”

Before my dad and my late mother moved to Spokane in the fall of 2000, he grimly maintained that their house in Vermont was bugged.

By whom? I was never quite sure about that. By parties interested in learning about circa 1962 B-52 electronic countermeasures, I suppose. In any event, he was extremely close-lipped about that sort of thing. So any high-tech eavesdropping would have been a decidedly low-yield undertaking.

Over the years my wife and I would occasionally speculate about our own home being bugged. What, we wondered, would someone surreptitiously listening to our conversations make of us?

If, say, we had just had a breathtakingly inane conversation about the proper loading of the garbage barrels, one of us might chuckle and wonder aloud what the guys out in the white van made of that particular exchange. And so on.

So here’s the question. If your home was bugged, what would be the No. 1 takeaway for those listening in?

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached by email at