In the course of my ragtag life, the population of Enumclaw has increased five times; it’s grown from 2,400 to roughly 12,000, with a new census due next year.
This has drastically changed the nature of our community and has required longtime residents to make certain adjustments.
For example, there’s the traffic. Needless to say, it’s gotten much worse. Trying to cross Griffin on Railroad Street at 3 in the afternoon is like taking a left off Third Avenue in downtown Seattle. The other day, I stopped behind a line of cars waiting on the Cole Street traffic light. The light changed, the traffic moved, but before I got though the intersection the light turned red again. Really now, that’s even worse than Seattle!
Many older residents feel the increasing population has produced a higher crime rate, but this isn’t necessarily so. Of course, there’s more crime because there are more people, but I don’t think the actual crime rate — that is, the amount of crime per 1,000 citizen — has necessarily increased. In other words, the newcomers are no more criminally inclined than the rest of us.
Places are much more crowded than they used to be. Take the post office as a case in point. If it’s around noon and you have some urgent business with this institution, the best I can offer is my sympathy and some advice: Don’t make any other plans for the next hour. And, speaking of crowds, have you stepped out for a drink or dinner over the weekend? I’m sure you have because everyone does!
Back in the day, you couldn’t walk half a block without meeting someone you knew. Of course, it’s different today and, consequently, you may feel the crowds are somehow colder and rather unsociable. However, it only seems that way because there are more strangers. To break the ice, simply introduce yourself.
It’s true that, unfortunately, we’ve lost the close, first-name familiarity small towns are famous for. Yet, it’s also true we’ve lost the small town’s bigoted, narrow-minded perspective — and we’ll never miss that. The newcomers are accepting of different races, sexual definitions, and religions.
Maybe the greatest difference I’ve noticed between the “old” and “new” morality is the acceptance of various sexual persuasions. I wouldn’t say the LGBTQ community are completely out of the closet — not be any means — but at least they’re around and welcomed, which is an immense improvement over the violent anecdote I described last week.
So, our days as an isolated small town are long gone and we’ve simply become another blip in the suburban sprawl of Greater Seattle. You may not care for the traffic, strangers, and crowds, but the new cosmopolitan attitude is a wonderful change.