November 2, 2005

Southern Exposure.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:59 pm

Bisquits gravy.jpgWhen I was a boy, my family made several trips through the South, almost always to get to Miami Beach (which was not then, nor is it now The South). So, for me, The South, was a blur of Stuckey’s stores, Burma Shave signs, and lots of farmland.

However, since I have been blogging, I have had a few occasions to travel to The South, where I have had the opportunity to get a ample dose of the culture and become friends with more than a few genuine Southerners. Turns out that I like the South and I like Southerners, despite the massive cultural divide between the North (Jersey, in particular) and The South.

I know that I could never “be” a Southerner, or even pass for one, for that matter (I’ve got Jersey in my bone marrow), but with each trip I learn new things, and I find myself becoming more and more comfortable down there.

Some examples:

Service in The South tends to be real slow, but always very pleasant. In Jersey, we always are in a damned hurry, and we have zero patience. Hell, I get a case of the ass when someone walks up to a cashier in a store and doesn’t already have his money in his hand. ”Yo, dipshit! You’ve been waiting on line for five goddamned minutes and only now that your stuff has been all rung up do you take out your wallet? Did it come as a surprise to you that, at the conclusion of this transaction, you might actually have to produce money?”

Similarly, in Jersey, I really go nuts when I am waiting on line, and the cashier decides to have a conversation with the person at the front of the line. “Yo, lady! Just ring the shit up and save the bullshitting for your own time.”

A few days ago I was waiting to rent a car, and the lady behind the counter was smiling and chit-chatting with the guy in front of me in line, while she worked (slowly) on his rental. In Jersey, my blood pressure would have been spiking dangerously, but it really didn’t bother me, probably because the lady behind the counter was just so nice. When it was my turn, the counter lady also chitchatted with me, and the people behind me in line didn’t freak out. ”Toto, we’re not in Jersey anymore.”

My experience has also been that service in restaurants can also be very slow, but there is just no way to get angry with someone who smiles and calls you “darlin’” when she shows up to take your order.

In the course of my trips down South, I have eaten fried green tomatoes, hush puppies and grits, and I’ve drunk “sweet tea.” Thanks to Eric, I have also eaten some excellent ribs (pronounced REE-ubs). Next trip, I’m damned sure going to have biscuits and gravy. At breakfast, That 1 Guy let me try his, and I liked it.

I think it may be time for a cultural exchange. The South can send us biscuits and gravy, and we’ll send them Taylor Ham and hard rolls (and a decent pizzeria or two).

Here is truly a massive cultural divide. I like guns, and I even own a couple, but the norm in New Jersey is that firearms are something to be loathed, feared and regulated to such an extent that only the criminals have them. As such, it is a cultural shock to go to a state, such as Tennessee, where a significant number of people are carrying guns at any given time. I haven’t checked the figures, but I’ll bet that, per capita, there are fewer break-ins and carjackings in Tennessee than there are in New Jersey. Even criminals, who are notoriously stupid, are smart enough to know that the intended carjacking victim in Tennessee might well be toting a 357, which could most assuredly screw up a carjacker’s day.

It is interesting to note that, even in Tennessee, one cannot carry a gun everywhere. I got a particular kick out of a sign over the bar in the Knoxville airport (which is past the metal detectors) that recites the penalties for carrying a gun in a place where alcohol is served. Assuming that one could get his or her gun past the metal detectors, what is the person supposed to do with the gun while he’s having a beer?

While there surely are exceptions on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, I think it is fair to say that, when it comes to manners, Southerners have them, and we don’t. It is true that we wear our Jersey “hard edge” proudly, but a bit more manners would be nice.

And, that’s what I like about the South.


  1. In Jersey, when a boy turns six he gets his first parlay cards. In Georgia, he gets his first gun. That my friend is the difference. Just Damn!

    Comment by Dax Montana — November 2, 2005 @ 11:46 pm

  2. And that’s also what I like about the South… I’d stay down there, but they seem to enjoy making fun of my accent. Way down inside… it hurts.


    Comment by That 1 Guy — November 2, 2005 @ 11:56 pm

  3. ROFL… Service… oh yeah. If someone is waiting to check out – there’s nothing I hate more than when they wait until the order is rung up and THEN pull out the wallet – or worse yet the checkbook!!!! Those are suitable grounds for homicide in some parts. *grin*

    Thing is – when you’re in a new place – it’s easier to tolerate that stuff. But once the newness wears off – you’d be pulling out the heavy Jersy accent and lettin’ ’em have it.

    Comment by Teresa — November 3, 2005 @ 12:04 am

  4. Jimbo, you are almost there, you can drink like a fish, curse like a sailor, play music, smoke anything, love guns, all you have to do now is slow down and move south, Cat

    Comment by Catfish — November 3, 2005 @ 12:51 am

  5. I really go nuts when I am waiting on line, and the cashier decides to have a conversation with the person at the front of the line.

    You would lose your farookin’ mind out here.

    Comment by Craig — November 3, 2005 @ 7:16 am

  6. Or here.

    Here’s one for you to ponder. If I remember correctly, here one cannot carry one’s gun in church. I have never figured out why our esteemed lawmakers thought that would even happen, let alone be a problem.

    Comment by rita — November 3, 2005 @ 7:53 am

  7. I have found myself slipping into a southern “y’all” drawl after just a few days of visiting relatives in the Columbia/Sumter region of South Carolina. It’s so damn easy!

    Re: Chit-chat/service. It is also very easy to slip into a pleasant conversation with just about anyone whether the person at the Piggly-Wiggly or the backroads country store. And ethnicity doesn’t matter. ALL Southerners I’ve met are pleasant.

    But let me say this.
    I have found that outside the immediate I-95 corridor from DC to Boston even the folks above the M-D Line can be pleasant as hell.

    There’s a store up in the Adirondacks I stop at for groceries and gas. The keeper may not know my name, but he remembers I’m from NJ and only a part time resident in his neck of the woods. We always have a little chit-chat about what’s going on.

    One nice little custom on the back roads outside NJ is to wave to the oncoming driver. (Try that anywhere in the I-287 “circle” and be ready to duck.) When younger, my son asked me if I knew that person I just waved at, “Not yet, son. Not yet.”

    Comment by joated — November 3, 2005 @ 8:28 am

  8. I am just far enough South, that I can get good fried green tomatoes, and great BBQ. The service in these parts is not friendly, only slow…….

    Comment by armywifetoddlermom — November 3, 2005 @ 9:47 am

  9. One thing about the south, no good greek dinners either! But gotta love those biscuits and gravy.

    Comment by oddybobo — November 3, 2005 @ 10:38 am

  10. .. man, I can not WAIT to see that photo of you firing the AR-15.. oh, and come down any time, bro… my ree-ubs are in da freezah…

    Comment by Eric — November 3, 2005 @ 1:35 pm

  11. Jim – if you ever make it to Kansas for a blogmeet, we’ll show you what Gun Ownership is!

    Of course, if you want to save time… you can just go for gun pr0n!

    And we can sing more German drinking songs!

    Panzer Lied anyone?

    Comment by John of Argghhh! — November 3, 2005 @ 5:34 pm

  12. I like things about both Northerners and Southerners. Like the idle chit-chattiness of “Have your money out when you get to the register, darlin’, or we’ll take a ride out to Pine Barrens.”

    Comment by dogette — November 3, 2005 @ 7:35 pm

  13. Similarly, in Jersey, I really go nuts when I am waiting on line, and the cashier decides to have a conversation with the person at the front of the line.

    In the Northeast people wait “on line.” Meanwhile, the rest of the country waits in line.

    Comment by Patrick — November 3, 2005 @ 8:19 pm

  14. “My experience has also been that service in restaurants can also be very slow, but there is just no way to get angry with someone who smiles and calls you “darlin’” when she shows up to take your order.” Now you know the secret to my success! 😉

    Oh and biscuits and gravy is my very favorites breakfast!!! You’ll love it!

    Comment by Tammi — November 3, 2005 @ 8:47 pm

  15. Seems to be the same differences all over the world… and as a southern girl from Bavaria/ Germany, of course I do have better manners and beer… 🙂

    Comment by Ann — November 4, 2005 @ 7:39 am

  16. You sound as if you were a New Yorker!

    I will do ANYTHING not to wait on line. That’s why I order everything, from postage stamps to subway pass, including my lunch -online- so it can be delivered to me.

    On the other hand I love going down south because of the way they are and how they treat people – sweetly and with courtesy!

    Comment by michele — November 4, 2005 @ 10:12 am

  17. My favorite breakfast food… grits, scrambled eggs with cheese, butter, bacon, salt and pepper… all mixed up. It is the epitome of Southern comfort food.

    I love the south. I’ll move back one day. S. FL is the NE. It has been a difficult adjustment for me.

    Comment by Bou — November 4, 2005 @ 9:20 pm

  18. I’d add that Southerners are more tolerant of differences in general (i.e., down South, it’s a matter of pride to be comfortably eccentric). Plus, it’s a venal sin to be a smoker down there, not a mortal one up here.

    If it weren’t for the heat, I’d move back down south in a heartbeat.

    Comment by TPB, Esq. — November 5, 2005 @ 12:06 pm

  19. Watch out – biscuits and gravy are so yummy you might want them every day!

    Yum – sausage gravy!

    Comment by Beth Donovan — November 5, 2005 @ 9:53 pm

  20. Dang, I hate that I missed you at a blogmeet. I hate that I missed ALL y’all at a blogmeet! I think that was the first I’ve crapped out on…and lemme tell youse, it ain’t happenin’ again!

    Y’all come on back, soon. I’ll fix the biscuits and gravy next time, and tote a big ole thang of sweet tea to wash it down with.

    Comment by Kelley — November 6, 2005 @ 9:25 pm

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