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This paper provides a report of an observation that was conducted in a local neighborhood, one surrounding the Mount Baker Station. Along with some factual information about the area, such as the types of the local businesses, transports, and so on, I also provide the account of the feelings and impressions that I experienced while observing the place. In general, it was apparent that the neighborhood is mainly a residential area, in which individuals who have incomes that are lower than the average live. The local people mostly seemed engaged in their business and not wishing to be disturbed; however, there were a number of persons who answered my polite greetings with a pleasantly surprised “hello.”
While walking around the Mount Baker Station, most of the sounds that I was able to hear were coming from the traffic. Numerous cars, buses, trolleybuses were heard from a distance, even while standing in places not close to roads, or while being inside buildings. It was also possible to distinguish the sound of an airplane flying in the skies. Apart from the traffic, I could hear the whirring of washing machines while walking close enough to the UW consolidated laundry located behind the station. It was also possible to distinguish the sounds of children shouting and cheering. In the local small bordered area near a school, I saw that the kids were playing hula hoop, as well as a variety of games involving the use of the ball, all while having a break from the class. The children were looked after by two adults, who did not make much noise, only shouted from time to time so that the kids would not go where they should not go.
Apart from the constant background traffic noise, it was also possible to hear people talking to one another at the bus stop, as well as in the local coffee shops and restaurants; a number of these were to be found in the area. The loudest sound that I was able to hear in the neighborhood, however, was perhaps the sound of the siren of an ambulance that drove by.
On the whole, even though the place was not quiet at all, it was rather easy to get used to that background sound of cars and get used to it. It was quiet near the local Franklin High School, however. Also, while looking around, I could sometimes find myself watching the birds flying nearby and sitting on the trees; a crow and a seagull were engaged in a scuffle over a piece of bread that one of them found in a nearby garbage can.
Most of the foods available in the neighborhood of the Mount Baker Station were offered by fast food restaurants, such as the KFC. Apart from that, there was a Vietnamese restaurant proposing foods from their national cuisine, such as the pho soup. These businesses were familiar to me, of course. Also, a number of supermarkets, including a small Chinese supermarket, were to be found in the area.
Judging from these sources of food, it might be possible to state that a number of residents of Asian origins could be found in the area. It is likely that these people are the most frequent customers of both the Chinese supermarket and the Vietnamese restaurant. The presence of a cheap fast food restaurant, KFC, might mean that there are many people in the area who are not affluent; in addition, because it is known that a large percentage of purchases in KFC restaurants are made by African American, it is also possible to assume that a decent proportion of them can be found in the area.
There was a variety of smells in the area. The most dominating one was not pleasant at all – the smell of car exhaust. When walking near the laundry, one could distinguish the smell of laundry detergents coming from the building. When approaching the local supermarkets and cafés, however, one could also feel the aromas of coffee or fried chicken, mostly pleasant and appealing. These could very well attract customers to the local restaurants. I yielded to the temptation myself, buying a cup of tea in a café.
Apart from that, it is possible that one would be able to feel the light scent of yellowed leaves which fell off the trees if they visited the area after the rain; however, it was dry at the time when I visited the neighborhood, so the smell was not there.
Perhaps the first feature of the neighborhood that I noticed was that it did not look affluent. In fact, most of the residential buildings were blocks of apartments, and they looked old and rather poor. There were also vehicles belonging to the ZipCar company parked in the area. It was quite apparent that the local community consists, to a large extent, of people who have the income which is lower than the average. No particular distinguishable boundaries surrounded the area; one could notice that it ended only by looking at the type of buildings around themselves.
Apart from the ZipCar vehicles, the locals also used a variety of public transport in order to travel. The means of transportation available to the public included buses and trolleybuses; there also was a bus station in the neighborhood.
There was a wide array of businesses in the area. These included supermarkets and different retails shops, a number of pharmacies, including a Rite Aid drugstore; a U.S. bank and an office of Wells Fargo; in addition, as was mentioned before, restaurants (including fast food) also were to be found in the area. There was also a Franklin High School, not far from which the children were playing.
A pleasant feature of the place was that there were a large number of trees in the area. Some of them were already bare, yet others still had yellow leaves on them; these leaves were falling off to the ground. However, the leaves, being dry, were carried around by wind rather that lay in one place.
Most people were wearing casual clothes. Some individuals were persons of color, such as Asian or African American. People of all ages could be found in the place, starting from young children and finishing with older adults; the range of their age was large.
In general, the individuals from the Mount Baker Station neighborhood did not appear very friendly. The children who were playing around looked as if they wanted others to mind their own business; they threw their bicycles in the elevator without much care, which also was not encouraging for anyone who might wish to make a contact with them.
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Some people were not willing to say hello, ignoring my greetings at all. In other cases, they answered; while some of them seemed reluctant to do so, others seemed pleasantly surprised.
On the whole, such attitudes induced mixed feelings in me. On the one hand, it was rather nice to hear the responses of those who were pleasantly surprised; it seemed that I was able to induce a spark of happiness in their otherwise grim day. On the other hand, those who answered reluctantly seemed to transfer their poor mood to me, which was quite disappointing. It is interesting to note, though, that if I had not attempted to say “hello” to the locals, I would not have noticed their attitudes; they would have been simply people for me, with many different faces yet each of them rather faceless in general.
Therefore, it can be concluded that the neighborhood located near the Mount Baker Station mostly serves as a residence for individuals whose incomes are below the average. People of all ages could be found in the area, most of them dressed casually, which is characteristic of a residential district. There are a variety of stores, shops and cafés in the place, most of which focus on the affordability for their customers. Some of the businesses target particular customers, such as the Vietnamese restaurant. The area is noisy, but a positive feature of it is that there are a large number of trees to be found. On the whole, it is possible to state that the locals are mostly engaged in their business and do not wish to be disturbed, though some might respond with a pleasantly surprised greeting if one is polite with them.