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

How to show respect for locals in California, and Arizona

Unlike most of the kids I grew up with in the old neighborhood in Minneapolis, I left. To me, it didn't really matter where I went, I just wanted to get away. I could drive, I could read a map, so I left, and moved to Phoenix, Arizona.

If that's you, then you know that you can never really fit in "back home", and you'll never really be a local where you live. I use the term local, but you can also call people who grew up somewhere, and stayed put, as "natives". And they can be kinda cool, and often more than a little bit frightening.

When I lived in California, I remember that the locals would guard the best surfing areas (although I never surfed), and their bumper stickers said, "Save California! When you leave, take someone with you!". Well, not all of them. I got to know a lot of locals, who showed me the best places in town, the best beaches, the best places to get tacos. I didn't want to be seen as an outsider, or a tourist, so I became a "born again local". I did the same thing in Phoenix.

Every individual is unique, of course, but there tends to be a pattern for people who grew up somewhere, and have stayed there all of their lives. Unless they're living somewhere where the population declined, they remember when it wasn't so crowded. They remember less traffic, less waiting in line. So, if you see things from their point of view, it makes sense that they would wish for less people. They don't hate people, they hate crowds.

I understand. And while it's not possible to be one less another person, it is possible to act with respect. In California I didn't act like an obnoxious tourist, I didn't park my car where it blocked everyone else. I learned to eat the local food (although I can't eat fish and seafood, which seems an awful shame). I learned to speak a little Spanish, I learned how to pronounce the names of the streets - which is especially tricky in California, where the locals have a particular way of mispronouncing things, like Sanna Monica, or Sah-pul-va-dah (Sepulveda). By the way, the city where ASU is is called Temp-EE, not TEMP-e. Locals get it right.

The locals also have a tendency to give directions based on what used to be there, such as "turn left where the old barn used to be", so I would learn where the old barn was. It was about respect.

I'm aware that my Minneapolis accent, and midwestern upbringing, gives me away when I try to be a local in Arizona, or California. So I'll admit it, I'm not really a local, but I want to be one.

Image at the top of this post: La Cucaracha Mexican Food, 7th Street and Indian School Road, the first place I discovered how HOT hot sauce can be!

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