Why the people of Phoenix are so similar to the people of Minnesota
I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and moved to Phoenix, Arizona when I was 19. Other than the fact that it doesn't snow in Phoenix, and some other minor details, I found the people to be pretty much the same as where I had come from. I really never gave it much thought.
When I moved to California, though, I got hit with culture shock. California is dramatically different from Arizona, and it's certainly nothing like Minnesota. I think that I can tell you why.
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Arizona attracts people from the midwest, especially Minnesota. Sure, there are midwesterners in California, but not as many. The main reason is that California is crazy expensive, and Phoenix is a bargain. People from Minnesota are thrifty, and they love bargains. That's a good place to start. Check the price of a hotel room in San Diego versus one in Scottsdale and you'll see what I mean. Sure, California has the ocean, but is it really all that valuable? People from Minnesota, like me, just want to get away from the snow and cold. And I tell people that there's plenty of beach in Arizona (sand), just not an ocean.
There's something else that makes Phoenix more attractive to Minnesotans than California, and I'll choose my words very carefully here. It's, uh, less complicated. It's less international. When you're in California, especially places like Los Angeles or San Francisco, you feel a connection to the world, which can be nice, or can be overwhelming. OK, I'll come right now and say it, Phoenix is provincial. But that can be nice. I love living in Phoenix, and while I've known a lot of people with narrow minds, that really doesn't bother me as long as they're good people. And they are!
Phoenix is strongly influenced by the culture of people like me. You may not catch yourself saying "You bet'cha" when you hang around me, but you won't find my Minnesota culture all that strange. And places like California will just seem weird. Really weird.
And here is some classic Minnesota etiquette. If you didn't grow up there, 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?"
Image at the top of this post: the author, recently arrived in Phoenix, Arizona.
Posted by Brad Hall