Smash the state … er, mug.

Via FoxNews, “Mug-Smashing Mayor

The first Starbucks he got to had heard he was coming and had already safely evacuated its Portland mugs back across the river.

“It was because of you,” manager Melanie Goodman admitted. Pollard gave her a hug.

The next Starbucks wasn’t so lucky. It had two Portland mugs on display. Pollard bought them both, walked over to a garbage can by the front door and smashed them to bits.

“What’s he doing?” one employee, or “barista” as Starbucks calls them, asked another.

“That’s the mayor of Vancouver and he’s breaking up the Portland coffee mugs,” the other replied.

“Sweet,” said the first.

So he bought them, and then smashed them? And here I was going to go on a rant about the way that this story was being treated differently than it would have been if it had been an activist instead of a mayor. Although the buzz on this fails to mention he bought them, and is playing it as if he went crazy and started to vandalize the place.

The reaction of the employees is very amusing.

There’s something in this that reminds me of conversations I had about the nature of local identity in the Pacific Northwest. The last bit in the article questions whether there is a problem with Portland, Maine. When I was helping to develop strategy for a Seattle ISP, I made a point to talk about the nature of competition. A Seattle ISP was at a distinct disadvantage in another town, like Tacoma or Everett. There seemed to me to be a significant culture that wanted local services, instead of regional services. At some level, there’s an acceptance of national services, so that means the middle range of a service, between start-up and national, is disabled in this region.

The competition between the Portland Winterhawks and the Seattle Thunderbirds is an example. There’s been, as long as I’ve paid attention, a pretty much sure bet that there would be fights on the ice between those two teams, and very vocal responses from the stands. Obviously, this isn’t too much of a surprise for Hockey, but the level of engagement and competition between the teams was more than any other teams in the league.

This kind of collective individualism, a reflection of the way the individuals themselves act but on the organizational level, seems to be strongly reflected in the culture of the western states, distinct from what I experienced in other states. This organizational culture of individualism seems to be pervasive.