It snowed this morning. Big fat flakes wafted down for the better part of an hour and then immediately started melting. In most places in the country, this would hardly be grounds for comment, but snow in Seattle causes the whole town to be gripped with terror. You’d think an annual occurrence would eventually become mundane, but no, Seattle is Chionophobic1 to an impressive degree.

Being in need of groceries, I elected to brave the crowds fighting for provisions and head up the road to Trader Joe’s. I could have jumped into my Japanese-designed, American-manufactured car and driven, but it was a pleasant day out and Seattle drivers lose their shit when they’ve been spooked by a dusting of winter weather. So I walked.

The walk took me over the University Bridge and along one edge of the campus of the University of Washington. In the few blocks of walking by the campus, I heard students speaking in at least three distinct languages. A group of students that I think were Japanese threw snowballs at each. A young hispanic couple speaking in Spanish did their best to scrape together a small, soggy snow man.

By the time I reached the store, the roads were bare and wet. Despite that, I saw at least three cars drive by with chains on. Two were Toyotas, one was a Mazda.

I went to the store, did my shopping, and trudged home. I’m now snacking on berries grown in Chile and pre-packaged sampler of cheese from Spain.

Thanks to globalization we educate students from all over the world, eat fresh berries in the midst of winter, and can enjoy the best culinary and engineering accomplishments from any nation.

It’s unfortunate, then, that Seattle has such a strong anti-Globalization streak. We were, after all, the site of the WTO riots in late 1999. During the height of the Occupy movement, protesters, with the help of the local unions, shut down University bridge during rush hour to strike a blow against Capitalism. Unions are strong in this town and Seattlites tend to value a curious mixture of feel-good Fair Trade economics and trade protectionism. “Free trade” and “capitalism” are generally held to be self-evidently evil.

And yet, when the scourge of snow descends menacingly onto our streets, we chain up our sensible, high-gas mileage Japanese automobiles, head for Trader Joe’s, and buy fresh Chilean raspberries and Spanish cheeses.

For most people, I’m sure they find no cognitive dissonance in such positions, but I can’t help but wonder about a town that prizes the fruits of globalization while vociferously opposing the trend itself. Whether it’s ignorance, bad faith, or guilty hypocrisy I can’t say, but Seattle is a town in which the status-conscious pride themselves on their diet of exotic cuisine, their naturally-impossible year-round vegan diets, and also on their “enlightened” liberalism, complete with its anti-globalization and anti-capitalist stances.


1 – “chionophobia ( ′kīänə′fōbēə ) An abnormal fear of snow.” Thank you, Google!