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How to Get Along With Southerners
Classic Southerner View
I guess you could classify me as a Yankee “transplant”. Where I live, that’s the term southern folks use to describe outsiders who come to stay. I was born in MA, but was there hardly long enough to get my diaper changed.
My mom married a career Air Force Man and since that point on we were continuously on the move. We rarely stayed in one state more than a year. I gave up trying to count all the states I’ve lived in or at least been through long ago.
Sure, traveling was an education but there were drawbacks. I never knew how to answer when someone asked where I was from. In addition, upon reaching adulthood I realized I had no roots…a man without a state so to speak.
That was me. The only states I had any real allegiance to were the home states of my parents. Those were Arkansas and South Carolina. The latter I had little fondness for. Over the years, I had lived in SC several different times. Living there in a small town was difficult for a “Yankee” kid to say the least, and I have many unpleasant memories of those days.
However, southerner’s do get a bad rap. They’re usually depicted as stereotyped, slovenly, beer drinking morons. But, that’s simply not true. I’ve found most southerners to be almost as smart as me. Whoa cowboy, this is only satire, meaning it’s supposed to be funny.
And even as an adult things there weren’t much easier. However, the circumstances were different then. I had a serious drinking problem at the time which was the cause of many of my problems. The problem was I was usually broke and couldn’t afford to buy any alcoholic beverages. Fortunately, those days are long behind me. I’ve been sober for over 10 years.
It seemed like every time I moved from SC, I swore I would never come back. But fate had different ideas. Most of my family ended up living in SC. So destiny dictated I was to also.
My wife and I moved to SC from AR in the early 1980’s because I missed my folks. That’s when I became a “transplant”. However, I just didn’t fit in there. I didn’t dress, act or speak like one of them. Therefore, making real friends was tough. That is until one incident seemed to change all of that.
I bought a pickup truck. It had a gun rack in the cab and those fancy overhead spot lights. And I then wore a baseball cap from my place of employment. All of a sudden, I at least resembled a local. People began speaking to me and my accent didn’t seem to matter anymore. I had learned the secret of fitting in, or so I thought. I was to learn the truth later.
We stayed about 10 years before moving to Tacoma where my older brother was living. That move was mostly due to the employment situation in SC at the time.
Up to that point southerners heard my accent and asked where I was from. Upon reaching Washington State I was asked what part of the south was I from. I couldn’t win for losing.
So, there I was in Tacoma with my fancy pickup and U-Haul trailer. My older brother helped me find an apartment. After I got settled in and had a phone put in I began to understand my previous popularity in SC. People I knew, and others who knew them, began calling. Every one of them wanted to borrow my pickup truck…to move something. The secret of my success was simply I had a pickup.
Not long afterwards, my pickup was repossessed since it had been a little difficult finding employment and I had gotten behind on payments. Once the truck disappeared, so did all my so-called friends. Unfortunately, my wife and I divorced not long afterwards. I guess she didn’t like my truck. So I moved back to, you guessed it, SC.
Nowadays I’ve matured and become much wiser as I approach retirement age. I’ve learned, albeit the hard way, folks are the same all over. Treat people right and they will reciprocate. So whether I am a redneck or a Yankee it makes no difference. You don’t have to “fit in”. Just be yourself and you won’t have any problems.
I remember a TV commercial years back in SC which went something like this. “Don’t you buy no ugly truck!” I guess that about says it all.