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Welcome to Portland

13 frustrating situations you’re bound to run into in the Forest City
By IAN CARLSEN  |  September 17, 2014


(photo by Ian Carlsen)

Everybody loves Portland. The internet does, we do, and we’re assuming (since you chose to go to school around here) you do. But as every longtime Portlander would love to tell you, it’s not all roses and sunshine in the Forest City. To that end we’ve put together a primer of minor inconveniences that most all of us have shared in. Think of it as a little checklist of crap that comes with a special silver lining. What is that silver lining, you ask? Well, it’s called being a Portlander. Let’s begin. If you’re going to live here, you will…

1. …run into your ex on an almost daily basis.
Portland is a small city. If you haven’t noticed this, try breaking up with someone. No matter how hard you try, both you and your ex’s instinctive patterns of avoidance will invariably lead to a run-in on the street, or worse, at a party you were both hoping to meet someone new at. This is how Portland got its less popular nickname: “The City of Hooking Up with Your Ex- Even Though You Know You Shouldn’t.”

2. …get “walk blocked” by tourists.
Those of you just arriving at school only have a few cruise ships left to really experience what year-round residents of Portland deal with every summer. Huge families of people “from away” rolling three-to-five deep down the sidewalks, stopping every twenty feet to take a picture of a building or look at those cartoonish maps the city hands out. Walking behind these people is like going back to using a dial-up modem: lots of noise, little results. Our advice? Point them to DiMillo’s (tell them it’s where “the real Portland” goes) and keep on walking.

3. …be late for something because the bridge went up.
“We’re cutting it pretty close.”
“Yeah, but it’s only three minutes to campus. We’re fine.”
“Hey, did that sign say the bridge was up?”
True facts: the Casco Bay Bridge is the most expensive commuter-delaying apparatus in the Greater Portland area. Plan accordingly.

4. …get completely lost in the West End.
Who knew that the slight curvature of a few streets could wind up being so inexplicably baffling? The Escherian topography of the area beyond Aurora Provisions is best navigated by locals (some of whom reportedly have unlocked homing pigeon-like techniques in their brains), or someone with a smartphone and a solid 5G connection. Everyone else should just stick to Congress St.

5. …start going to brunch at the worst possible times.
Do you brunch? Of course you do. However, one day soon you’ll wake up and lazily decide to go for brunch at the same time every other Portland resident (sans waitstaff) has decided to as well. Make small talk while you contemplate eating your companions during your hour-plus wait for bar seating, and make sure you put actual food in your stomach before finishing that first Bloody Mary.

6. …explain to someone you live in Maine, not Oregon.
Let’s get our facts straight: we do not live in “the other Portland.” We live in the original. In 1845, the merchant Francis W. Pettygrove, born in Calais, won the right to name the Oregonian city in a coin toss. He chose to name it after his beloved hometown of Portland, Maine. Headaches and confusion have persisted ever since. Perhaps it would have been easier if Asa Lovejoy had won, and the world would have had to deal with two Bostons.

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