Left Coast / Right Coast: Mill Creek vs. Brooklyn

Mike Gold enjoying the holidays in the Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.

By Mike Gold, A retired entrepreneur living the dream in the Pacific Northwest.

As the title of this column is Left Coast / Right Coast, this week I thought I’d write about some of the differences in living on the East Coast as opposed to the West Coast.


The sheer crush of humanity makes being civilized very difficult. For example, when driving and you come to an intersection, if you wait until the car coming on a street perpendicular to your street clears the intersection, two things will happen.

First, you will never get across the intersection if you allow the other car to go before you, and then every other car will go, leaving you to sit in your spot for minutes.

The second thing that happens is the car behind you will get on their horn, attempting to blast you out of your reverie and getting you to actually move.

Mill Creek

Here, people are so polite that almost the same thing happens but for a very different reason.

In Mill Creek people simply wait for the other car to proceed, thus leaving you sitting in your car, again for what seems like minutes.

If there is a car behind you, they will simply wait until you have cleared the intersection, thus allowing them to proceed at a leisurely pace.


There is such a thing as a queue. The British are well known for queuing up in an orderly fashion. So in England waiting for a bus, each person politely waits as the queue winds its way down.

In Brooklyn everyone will “bull rush” to cut the line and get on the bus/train before everyone else. This is principally due to the fact that if you politely wait for your turn to enter, it is very likely you will not find room to enter the bus/train.

I am reminded of those people in Japan whose job it is to push passengers into the cars. This is the only way they can actually get all the people onto the bus/train.

In Brooklyn, experienced riders know that only by pushing ahead of everyone else will you manage to get on the bus/train. A Seinfeld episode shows this when Kramer tries for a subway seat.

Mill Creek Ash Way Park and Ride

Other than the fact you can’t find a parking place after about 6:45 am, once you have parked, or are dropped off, people politely wait for their turn to get on the bus. There is no pushing, or jockeying for the “best” seat. I have yet to see anyone attempt to cut a queue waiting to get on the bus. Likewise, the security line at Sea-Tac airport is also orderly. It amazes me that no matter how slowly the line moves, people politely wait their turn.


In Brooklyn, everyone attempts to convince those ahead of them in line that “I’m going to miss my plane unless you allow me to move up in the line.”

Waiting in the checkout line at the supermarket, there is a game in which everyone attempts to figure out which line will yield the shortest wait time. Among the things commonly done, one may use the “10 items or less” line – to push your overflowing basket through. If the cashier says anything, you say: “Oh, I did not realize that this was the ‘10 items or less’ line. And my invalid mother is waiting in the very hot car out in the parking lot so if you don’t mind I really need to get through the line and out of here.”

Mill Creek

I’m certain that folks do look at each checkout line to see which one might be a shorter wait time. But once a line is selected, my impression is that people simply patiently wait for their turn to check out.

My last example has to do with driving etiquette.

In Brooklyn, when one approaches any sort of traffic slow down, if there are multiple lanes, drivers frequently change lanes to try and “save a few seconds.” In fact, this practice is so common, that sometimes the driver will simply dart into the next lane oblivious to whether there is already a car there.

In Mill Creek, I have not seen much “lane jockeying” even when traffic is “stop and go.” People simply “wait their turn.

Those of you reading this might think: “Why would I want to put up with all the inconvenience and rudeness of life in Brooklyn?

It is quite obvious to me, a relative newcomer that folks here in Mill Creek are much more laid back than those in New York City.

So what did I do?

Let me simply say that I moved from the East Coast when I retired and lived in Mill Creek for six years, and now live in Edmonds. So I voted with my feet and have not regretted it for one minute.

I am also convinced that I will live longer by having made the change.


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