This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Culture shock in Phoenix, Arizona


If you move to Phoenix from somewhere else, you will experience something that can be called "culture shock". That is, the surprise of finding out that some behavior that was perfectly acceptable where you used to be, simply isn't done there.

I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and moved to Phoenix when I was nineteen and don't recall much culture shock. Of course, there may have been, and I was probably just too young and naive to notice, but to me Phoenix felt a lot like Minneapolis. Well, the weather is different, but the people are mostly the same - midwesterners. Yes, it's true, there are a lot of people from Minnesota, and Iowa, in Phoenix. And they bring a lot of their culture.

But my years in California made me experience culture shock when I moved back to Phoenix. No, it wasn't as extreme as a friend of mine who was from New Jersey and didn't understand that you really shouldn't honk your horn a lot in Phoenix. According to him, back where he was from they did that all of the time. I've never been there, so I don't know. But I must have picked up a lot of California culture. I still thought of myself as a kid from Minneapolis, but I remember that my girlfriend in Phoenix always bought me the cologne "California". I didn't carry a surfboard around, or eat Sushi, but I guess a lot of the culture had rubbed off on me.

Of course, if you've never lived anywhere other than where you have always lived, culture is invisible to you. It's just the way things are done. Other people are weird. Why can't they just learn to behave? So I try not to talk about culture, or etiquette, to people who have never seen anything other than their own. It just sounds like nonsense.

By the way, if you didn't grow up where I did, you probably aren't aware how terribly rude it is to accept something on the first offer. If someone offers you, for example, a cup of coffee, and you just say, "sure, that's sounds great! Thanks!" you have committed a terrible breach of etiquette. That type of impolite behavior is enough to have someone never speak to you again. Here is how it works. It's always one-two-three:

"Would you like a cup of coffee?"

"Oh no, thanks, I'm fine" (that's number 1)

"Are you sure?"

"I would hate to put you to so much trouble!" (that's number 2)

"It's no trouble, I'm thinking of brewing some right now!"

"Sure! I'd love a cup of coffee!" (number 3)

Then it starts again:

"Would you like some sugar?"


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