One Star

Business:  Pike Place Fish Company, Seattle Washington

Reviewer:  Victor A., Hillsboro, OR

Rating:      * * * * *

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Some things aren’t what they’re made out to be – and Pike Place is one of them.

If you watch one of those Pike Place propaganda pieces on the Travel Channel or Food Network, you’ll think the place is like a game of bombardment played with fish, that it’s start-to-finish fun. In reality, those stories are like some people’s Facebook pages, carefully curated to create a certain impression. Unfortunately, that page is showing the Marketing version of the product, and what you end up with the much more manipulative HR version. I’m not saying the FB page is a lie, but it’s certainly an inaccurate truth.

I admit, I didn’t even want to visit Pike Place. I’d only casually mentioned how a road trip to Seattle might be fun, something to file under Future Plans, but my new friend decides to “surprise” me by booking two nights at the Sheraton Seattle. Know what else surprised me? The rates at the Sheridan. Yet when I mentioned this, she gets all pouty and say I’m not letting her have any fun and I need to be more spontaneous. To me, spontaneous is another word for “overpriced”, such as in the sentence, “we had some spontaneous fun at Pike Place.”

Let me tell you what’s really going on at Pike Place – the whole performance is just a ruse to get to your wallet. You go thinking you’re going to have a great time, but they won’t toss one damn fish until you start waving the Amex. Then they’re eager to please. Let’s face it, that’s not a business model, it’s a shakedown. They’ll say you’re buying a fish, but you’re really just shelling out cash for the privilege of being present for the show. If you don’t pay, you may as well not have shown up. If you don’t pay, you’re just some chump standing around looking like an idiot while some pissed off person glares at you.

Is it unreasonable to expect Pike Place in real life to at least vaguely resemble Pike Place’s Facebook page? I admit, I had certain expectations, and that’s never a good thing. Maybe I should have done more investigation before I walked in expecting something magical to happen. But even so, expecting to receive what the sales pitch clearly promised isn’t purely a problem with expectations – it’s false advertising. It’s not as though Pike Place is oblivious to how the online version of their shop might be misleading. Of course, when you call them on it, they act like they’re totally innocent. How could they be responsible for me jumping to conclusions? Apparently I shouldn’t even have taken the trip if I didn’t think I’d have to pay to get the whole experience.

It would have been easy to pull out the Visa and pay for the fish like an idiot – were we supposed to stuff it in the mini-fridge at the Sheraton? – but on principle, I refused. I told them I couldn’t afford their prices, which seemed at least double what it would be worth, and I couldn’t even be sure of the quality of the product. I’d already spent a ton on this trip, so would it have killed them just to toss a couple of Cohos so that I’d have one good, clear memory of the weekend? I was told that’s not how it works and that they also have to think about their own happiness, too. Apparently, their happiness has a different price-point than mine. They kept badgering me about how I was the one who created an inaccurate online impression, how they were the one’s getting mislead. Straight-up flipped the tables and made it a me-problem. That’s my clearest memory of Pike Place.

Actually, this is: we were there for about twenty minutes, stuck in some kind of Mexican stand-off between the salmon and my Visa. I’m sticking to my principles, waiting to see what happens, when this other guy rolls up and makes a big show out of pulling out his gold card. He’s obviously willing to pay, so now the fishmongers and certain other people are all chatting him up, laughing at his stupid lines, acting like he’s the only guy there. I hear the guy bragging about how he’s going to grill the fish on the porch of his condo that has this great view of the Space Needle. I’m like, who gives a damn? Fine, he’s got money, am I supposed to believe that makes him special? Some people seemed to think so, but it just made me hate the place even more.

I never did end up getting any fish. The whole trip was a waste of time and money. I’ll never go back.


© 2016 WPReagan. This is one story in the 2016 series, Everyday Stories: 30 Tales in 30 Days Inspired by 30 Stranger’s Photographs.

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