Thursday, October 13, 2011

Darned Different Denver: 30 Days of Blogging, Day 9

So I had a pretty interesting moment today here in Denver. I'll generally jaywalk in most major cities, and when I do so in a multilane road, I attempt to time it in such a way as to allow an approaching car to drive past before I cross its lane. It usually works well--I'll start crossing the street and get about halfway, the car will drive by as I'm crossing in the lane before it, and then I'll cross its lane after it passes. This way, I'm not really slowing them down.

This evening on a walk through the downtown area, I attempted to do this. For whatever reason, the car came to a complete stop when it had a green light and let me cross. It was a rather bizarre situation, as I've never seen, nor would really ever expect to see, a car completely give a pedestrian the right-of-way when the car has a green light and the pedestrian a "Don't Walk" sign. A bit later on, I followed a crowd of people across another, more major street, only to find the same thing--a car giving pedestrians right of way.

This was just one of several things I've encountered thus far in Denver which have simply been really different than anywhere else I've been. I think it's in large part due to the fact that Denver has some pretty unique demographics--overall the city seems pretty liberal, and there is a strong educated, well-to-do class of people here that, unlike most classes of this type in other cities, is pretty liberal. I think as a result, there is a stronger sense of acceptance here. Additionally, the city itself is quite a bit more laid back than most cities of its size. Other examples of the interestingly laid-back atmosphere of Denver include:

Today while riding a bus out to Boulder to visit my old friend from high school Nick, I noticed a couple of things. Firstly, a sign on the bus said something to the effect of "Please be Kind: Remember, Your Bus Driver is Working Very Hard to do Their Job". Interestingly, I noticed that every single passenger on the bus said "thank you" to the driver upon exiting. This is something I'd never expect to see in Chicago (or indeed in most other large cities), and was a pretty interesting phenomenon.

There are a lot of homeless people here. Nick was telling me that the city of Boulder recently built a $10 million homeless shelter. Consequently, you'll see a simply absurd number of vagrants, homeless people, and other general drains on society out here. Interestingly (and rather hilariously), Nick mentioned that the homeless population of Boulder "about doubled" when Phish came to town for a 3-day show awhile back. Additionally, due to the sheer number of homeless here, the competition for pity money is fierce, so homeless people are forced to get creative. Yesterday I saw two people asking for money dressed as wizards.

It's also interesting to note the incredibly liberal attitude about drugs. In addition to being dozens of marijuana "dispensaries" in both Denver and Boulder, there are advertisements everywhere for pot. Nick also mentioned that there are the occasional television commercials advertising pot shops. It definitely seems a bit more full-on than, for example, the attitude towards drugs in the Netherlands, where marijuana has been essentially legal for...ever. I think that in Colorado it's still something of a novel concept which needs to be given a bit of time to mature, and consequently it's in a bit of a honeymoon stage at this point.

I've also noticed something that you don't see much of in Chicagoland, but that are quite common in places like China, that is, high-tech parks. Nick and I went frolfing with his girlfriend at a course within one of these high-tech parks, and it was a pretty amazing place. Basically, it seems to be real-estate devoted to high-tech companies, most notably in this case Oracle, which had an enormous campus built there. In general, it seems that the economy out here is quite a bit more vibrant than in the midwest--I've noticed quite a few less vacant buildings, "for rent" signs, etc.

So anyway, those would be a lot of the major differences I've noticed between Denver and Chicago (or indeed, things that just make Denver unique). This evening should be excellent, we'll be having a rather excessive dinner with representatives from GE at Elway's restaurant, apparently one of the nicest restaurants in Denver. Should be interesting.

Also got a call this afternoon from Allstate, they'd like to speak with me about a Financial Analyst position, so we'll see how that goes. More news to come as it develops.

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