Seattle Hates Map Books
Yesterday was the first day of my weeklong vacation, which I decided to take before school starts up and things start to get crazy. I decided to spend the day taking a road trip down to Seattle with Kalev. It was a relaxed trip with no real goals in mind – we weren’t going there to shop1 or to any particular event or anything. We did, however, want to find a map. You see, here in BC, we’d just use Google Maps on our iPhones. But once you cross over the border, roaming fees kick in and since we’d be charged about $1 billion per byte, we both turned our phones off to avoid ending up with cell phone bills that would be bigger than my student loan debt. I have a map book containing maps of the whole Lower Mainland that I used before I got my iPhone and I wanted to get something similar for the Seattle area. However, we would soon discover that Washington state hates maps of any kind, but especially map books. Despite going to Walgreen’s, Safeway, and a few gas stations, we were never able to find even a single map book, and the few old school folding maps they did have were either maps of the whole state (which didn’t have enough detail of the cities for our purposes) or individual city maps (which didn’t contain maps of enough places to be worth our while). In the end, we went mapless and managed to find our way to where we wanted to be, though we did stand outside a shop and steal their wifi to check out a map at one point:
In addition to the lack of proper maps, the purchasing of gas proved challenging. Now, we all know that the US has super cheap gas compared to Canada (we are talking 90 cents per litre of premium gas in Washington state vs. $1.30 per litre in Vancouver). So I made sure that I didn’t fill up before we left Canada. But when we stopped in Everett to fill up, I noticed this odd sign on the pump:
Enter my “zip” code to get gas, eh? I didn’t actually read the sign at first, so I thought the pump was asking for a zip code just as one of those things where they collect zip codes so they can survey where their customers have come from. So I did what I always do when I am required to enter a zip code (and a Canadian postal code isn’t accepted) – I entered “90210.” Unfortunately, the entering of the zip code is actually to check if you are using a stolen credit card (which, if I’d read the sign, I would have known) and s0 your zip code has to match your credit card billing information. Which, of course, means that Canadians can’t use their credit cards at the pump (at least not at the Safeway gas stations). But really, how many Canadians can they possible get in a border state, right? </sarcasm>
Now, around here if the pay-at-the-pump isn’t working (or you are out in small towns in the Fraser Valley where their pumps are so old they don’t have pay-at-the-pump options), you just give your credit card to the cashier, pay your gas, and then go inside and pay. Not here though. Instead, you have to tell them a dollar amount to charge to your card, they charge it, then you pump your gas, and then they refund the difference between the first transaction and how much gas you actually took. So efficient! Also, they didn’t require my postal code or any other sort of verification that I was the owner of that credit card when I went inside to pay, so that’s kind of a loophole in their security system.
I had *no idea* how much a fill up would cost because they list their prices in $ per gallon and I don’t even know what a gallon is2! So I just said, “Put $30 on it” as that’s roughly how much a tank costs me in Vancouver, so I knew it would be more than enough to cover the cost of a tank there. In the end, it cost ~$18.
Also photoworthy was the parking payment stub that you have to tape to the window when you pay for street parking in Seattle:
Apparently their meter-maids can’t be bothered to look on your dashboard like meter-maids everywhere else. Your parking stub prints out on a sticker, but the sticker isn’t the parking stub part, it’s the backing of the parking stub, which you use like a piece of tape to stick the stub to your side window. Weird!
Other than inefficient gas purchasing and map scarcity and weird parking stubs, though, the trip was awesome. We accomplished our goal of not doing anything in particular, including:
- walking around Pike Place Market
- sitting on some grass watching the water
- people watching
- finding our way to Capitol Hill
Also, Kalev bought some Squirt, which I maintain sounds dirty, and I might have told a waiter that Kalev likes big sticks.
All in all, good times.
- since you can only bring $50 back if you stay less than 48 hrs in the US [↩]
- I mean, I know it’s a measure of volume, but I couldn’t tell you the gallons-to-litres conversion off the top of my head, so couldn’t even do a ball park estimate [↩]