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Why Californians hate Zonies


Californians hate tourists from Arizona, who they call Zonies. And "hate" may be too extreme a term, so maybe it's more like: "loathe, detest, dislike greatly, abhor, abominate, despise, execrate, feel aversion toward, feel revulsion toward, feel hostile toward, be repelled by, be revolted by, regard with disgust, not be able to bear/stand, be unable to stomach, find intolerable, shudder at, recoil from, shrink from". Yeah, I just copied that.

And the reason for this is simply human nature. And it's an emotional response, not an intellectual one. Intellectually, Californians know that tourists bring in a lot of money, especially tourists from Arizona, in the summer. If you live in Arizona, you know that tourists bring in a lot of money in the winter, but they're still jamming up the streets, getting in the way, driving the prices up, etc., etc.

When I lived in California, in the 1980s, I really hadn't spent enough time in Arizona to be considered a Zonie. Mostly I was still one of those weird Midwestern people, from Minnesota. And besides, I lived in LA, and most Zonies don't go there, they go to San Diego. In fact, I never heard the term Zonie in LA.

Now calm down here if you think I'm attacking people from Arizona, or Minnesota, I'm not. I'm just saying that typical tourists drive too slow, stop to take pictures of things that are pretty commonplace, and just generally make day-to-day living difficult for people living in a place infested by tourists.

The solution, of course, is to not be a tourist when you visit California. Of course that's not easy to do when you stick out like a sore thumb compared to the locals. When I lived in Santa Barbara, I'd see people splashing around in the ocean in December. They were having a lot of fun, and I just shivered. And that's what tourists do (no, not shiver, they have fun). Tourists are on vacation while the rest of the people are slogging off to work. They're going to restaurants, relaxing on the beach, you know, touristy stuff.

Speaking for myself, when I go visit California every summer, I become a Californian again. I don't have a car with Arizona license plates, I don't insist that everything should be like "back home". I have California friends who seem to live on avocados and sushi, but I know some good burger places in Cali, and plenty of great Mexican Food places!

Yes, I will tell people that I'm vacationing from Arizona, but I'll put away my Sun Devil stuff and get out my Dodgers hat. There's an old expression "When in Rome do as the Romans do", and when in California I'm not a Zonie. Horray for Hollywood! No autographs, please.

Image at the top of this post: 1911 ad encouraging people from Arizona to visit California in the summer. They probably weren't called Zonies then, but I'm sure they had a name for them!

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