Thursday, June 01, 2006

Observations from the South

We have been in the Carolinas for about ten years after an eighteen winter sojourn in Canada. Nice country, Canada, but there is a reason I mark the time in winters. As they say in Alberta: Eight months of hockey and four months of bad ice. More on Canada another time.

I've never lived in the South before, except for a few months' stay in south Alabama for military training. That's another story or five. So we are looked upon as Yankees, and we are accepted as long as we don't tell anyone how it is done in the North. I can throw in a few ya'alls and ain'ts just to show I'm sympathetic. But there is much I don't understand or want to emulate about some Southern culture and habits.

Went to fuel up the car this morn. Guy in front of me was buying his breakfast: Krispy Kreme donuts and a Mountain Dew. Or, at other times in the diner at breakfast neighboring tables were ordering sweet tea, iced that is, with their biscuits and sausage gravy and grits. Now I like all that stuff (well, maybe not grits) but not altogether and not at seven am.

I have never worked in an office full-time until we moved here. But here, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, in the office has an iced drink with them at all times. Work stations, meetings, break room. Never understood that until the first summer here. Eight hours of air-conditioning will dry you out like a day at Death Valley. I tended to spill things, so I just made many trips to the water cooler, and almost as many trips to the Men's room. Needless to say, my production suffered.

Drivers here are another story. This is the home of NASCAR, afterall, and there are a few quirks that take getting used to. I won't go into them all here (blog fodder) but one. I have had about seven used cars since joining the South, and every Southern driver is/was fascinated with the backend of each one. I don't understand it: I drive at least 5mph above the posted limit, I have no bumper stickers, and nothing that is likely to fall off. Yet when I check the rear-view mirror, I see white knuckles, wide eyes, and windshields. Takes getting used to.

None of this is, in anyway, criticism. It is just different: Like Canada, every one looks the same, and speaks the same language (sort of). When we moved to Canada, and told our story to acquaintances, the response was always, "Why did you want to move here?" Here, the response has always been, "We're so glad you chose our part of the South." As I say, different.

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