Forgetaboutit - I gotta just add aphew more things, and I appreciate the validation. Back in NYC, unless things have changed, i know that when you pass other human beings on the street, in a hallway, going down a stairs...whatever, they look at each other. Not a stare, or expectation of anything, but a nonverbal communication with the eyes that says "hey-I know your there-whats up" I bugged out when i first moved here because people here do not acknowledge each other verbally, or non-verbally. But they're there.
For me, it's normal to make a glancing, positive eye contact when people walk toward me, forgetabout talking. So, what i do now, to keep my dignity, is to block out zombie people with my hands.
If they are not gonna make eye contact, I hold my hand up to my eyes and physically blot them out of my view. That way, they KNOW I am blotting them out, and I still get to communicate with another human being. I think of them as Medusa, and let them know that for sure I don't want to see them. Otherwise I might start to become a zombie too, like Dawn of the Dead, or something. Here, maybe 1:25 people will look at you, and maybe 1:250 will be able to communicate with their eyes. I'm not making fun of them; it's just my reaction to a zombie so I don't get no voodoo spell, i.e. start feeling weird.
Lastly, people say that Oregoneans don't have an accent, and that may be true, but they do have identifiable phrases that only people here say. For example, when you begin a conversation with a native here, it usually starts off with "whats that." "Whats that" is a way to signal for the other person to repeat themselves and to verify that, in fact, one to one communication has begun. Doesn't matter if you speak clearly and loud; folks are gonna say "whats that" by habit. I used to think it was me, and the sound of my voice, but I hear other people saying "whats that" to each other and they are natives. I can understand what a person said, from a greater distance away, but yet I'll hear the person being spoken to say "whats that." To preserve my dignity, if someone says "whats that" to me, I say "whats that" to them. You want confusion, you got it. I know I speak clearly and distinctly and I ain't repeating myself. Thats dumb. Okay, I'm finished