Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Perception vs. Reality

Scanning the headlines, I noticed this article about the Rainier Beach Safeway (which is, apparently, "plagued by thugs"). This is the Safeway I often choose to shop at, bypassing the Safeway on Martin Luther King which is older, smaller, more poorly stocked, more dilapidated, and occasionally has the scary drug-addled panhandler guy roaming aggressively between parked cars and wildly extorting people. If this newly renovated, brightly-lit, spacious, clean, well-stocked Safeway is the "scary" Safeway, I'd really love to know what these people would think of the one that's closer to my house.

Obviously people have been attacked or there wouldn't be a story. There are police reports and victims of crimes that can be listed. Even so, it was a total surprise to me to hear it. I've never seen anything approaching a gang of thugs haunting that Safeway, have never been approached by a single scary drug-addled panhandler, have never witnessed any crime of any sort. I've never felt anything but perfectly safe in my trips there.

JVA over at the Mid Beacon Hill blog has more. JVA and I agree, Beacon Hill is seriously underserved for amenities; apparently, though, JVA is so freaked out by reading the Beacon Hill News Police Log that driving to Buriento shop seems like a reasonable alternative! Wow. I have to say, I'm not to that point. In fact, the violence reported in our area overwhelmingly involves people fighting with people they know, or gang rivalries. When the story starts, "41-year-old man and woman were camping in a vacant lot..." or "A woman complained that her estranged husband (high on PCP) had threatened to kill her..." it doesn't make the violence any less awful but it does put it in a different category for me. Camping out in a vacant lot carries a different risk than going to your local Safeway, even if they're in the same zip code.

I'm definitely not going to start driving to Burien for my groceries is what I'm saying. I do think I may have to adjust my perception of the area.

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Blogger JvA Says:

The main reason I shop in Burien is to go to Trader Joe's. We're really close to Swift/Albro, so getting to 509 is a snap.

I've never felt personally threatened at the Rainier/Henderson Safeway, but the number of groups of loiterers in the parking lot does kind of weird me out. I guess they're selling CDs and stuff? I'm not sure. I haven't been by there in a while, either, so it's likely that it's not as weird as I remember it from a couple years ago.

I've never shopped at the MLK Safeway because it looks like it would be awful, as you describe.

And, yeah, I agree, that there is a difference between violence between acquaintances and violence between strangers. But personally, I'd prefer to shop somewhere that people aren't high on PCP threatening their exes lives in front of their kids while shopping for stolen CDs out of the trunk of someone's car, or whatever the story behind that was.

I have to get in the car to pick up groceries once a week anyway -- I might as well go where they have the stores that I like to shop at in an area without so much illegal activity. I hope that doesn't make me seem like too horrible a person.

Blogger Nikchick Says:

Hi JVA. I don't think you're a horrible person or anything. I'm right near Swift/Albro myself but it just would never occur to me to go to Burien for anything, let alone groceries. I'd hit the TJs up in the Madison and 23rd area, or the QFC down the hill on Rainier near McClellan. I've even been known to drive up to the U District to hit their Whole Foods before the one downtown was built (which, funnily enough, I've never been to).

And I do understand that inclination to stay away from a bad area, which is precisely why I avoid the Othello/MLK Safeway when humanly possible. It's at that location that I've been stalked to my car by a guy who was clearly tripping on something scary and where I've felt it was a good idea not to put myself in the area, just to be safe. Which is why I found it so...funny? Ironic? Disturbing? Let's go with noteworthy... so noteworthy that the Safeway at which I'd sought refuge was now being highlighted as a troubled spot.


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