And by abroad I mean, if we’ve made the 4-12 hour journey to venture out of Texas.
When us Texans travel, it doesn’t take us long before we’re saying, “we’re not in Texas anymore, y’all.”
First, it’s a reminder to ourselves to be conscious that we’re representing a state that already can’t get right in the public consciousness. (Thanks for helping with that, Governor.)
The public perception is largely that Texans are special…special in a -simple, unsophisticated, country, lacking a command of the English language, fascinated by the ordinary (like running water), and full of themselves- kind of way.
Allow me to note here, that if you encounter a traveling Texan, he or she is likely from one of three places: the Houston area, the Dallas area, the Austin area…MAYBE San Antonio. These are large urban regions. Large urban university regions. Which means large regions of edu-ma-cated folks.
I travel all over Texas for my job, and honestly, I do encounter lots of country folk (although many small town Texas folk are still educated in big cities), but they aren’t typically the traveling sort (obviously there are exceptions to every generalization). Nope, traveling Texans, even the ones from small towns, are typical a bit more cosmopolitan. When people find out I’m from Texas, they often say, “I would have never guessed. You don’t sound Texan.”
Yes, most of us don’t, actually. Most Texas drawls are reserved only for conversations with other Texans. …and television. The media loves the Texan caricature.
Back to Texans abroad. We Texans become aware we’re not in Texas when our attempts to make casual conversation are rebuffed. Texans are sociable. We’ll talk to anybody. Actually, we’ll talk to everybody.
“Hi! How are you?” (We really want to know.)
Grocery store lines, beaches, truck stops, restaurants- these are all opportunities to meet and speak to new people. To make a human connection. To learn a little something and let someone know “hey, I noticed YOU today.”
In Texas, these interactions are constant…NORMAL. But applied abroad, people look at you with a combination of “why the hell are you talking to me, I don’t know you?…how fast can I get away from this relating business?…and I’m not buying whatever you’re about to try to sell me.”
Relax people. No one is trying to mug you.
Another indicator? Manners. Texans are big on manners. The moment I’m nearly mowed down by a shopping cart at a grocery store without even so much as a “pardon me,” I know I’m not in Texas.
If you want to experience true Southern hospitality, go to Texas or hang out with Texans. The deep South ain’t got nothin’ on us.
In Texas we hold open doors for women, the elderly, and pretty much any random stranger. We say, “please, thank you, excuse me, pardon, no sir, yes sir, no ma’am, yes ma’am.” Ya, we’re aggressive drivers, but we’ll let you in (just don’t piss us off and go slow once we’ve extended that kindness.)
If I’m abroad too long I start going through withdrawals for warmth and kindness. Don’t get me wrong, there are good people everywhere. Like my recent trip to NoLa. That was fabulous because the people were warm and hospitable and lovely. Like home, with art and jazz and ridiculous food. But usually I can tell the difference immediately.
We Texans are pretty confident. Abroad people read this as cocky or boastful. That’s not really it. It’s just that when you live in this constant state of friendliness and hospitality, you feel pretty free to do what you wanna’ do as long as you’re going about it kindly.
You do your thing. If it catches me off guard, give me a sec, and then I’ll probably be like, “well alright…go on with your bold self.”
When you’re abroad and you’re being you, people give you the “who does she think she is?” look. And I find myself thinking, “alright, what did I do?”
We take up a lot space. We Texans, we sprawl a bit. We’re used to big space. It’s not that we think we own everything, it’s just hard for us to be compact and think small. I was in Colorado recently when my friend remarked that Colorado was a big state. I said, “uh, no you’re not.” to which my friend remarked, “well, not to a Texan.” …oh ya, huh? My perspective is just skewed.
Finally, when not in a vehicle, Texans move slower. I know I’m not home when anything other than a foot race feels like a foot race. Slow down, people. What’s all the hustling about? I’m fast for a Texan, but that translates to “doh-de-doh” pretty much everywhere else.
–additional indicators added 8/14/2012–
Texans like frosty beverages. Ice. Cold. Beverages. It’s hot. We do not want warm milk, soda, or tea. Throw some ice in that, please.
Likewise, Texans know the value of air conditioning. It’s hot as hell in Texas. You risk heat stroke getting from your car to your office on an afternoon during the summer. People often say to me, “I don’t know how you can live in Texas, it’s HOT.” Uh, no. It’s a crisp 70 degrees pretty much everywhere, but outside. I carry a sweater everywhere I go. We know the value of AC! What we find frustrating is traveling to places only 10 degrees cooler than Texas that don’t rely on AC. N-O.
I won’t lie, I’ve found it rough being a Texan lately. I wasn’t a fan of President Bush, our current Governor embarrasses me every time he opens his mouth, our AG is a ‘Ken Starr’, Ken Starr is the president of Baylor in Waco. Blek. But, I love my damn state because the Texans I know are lovely, and traveling abroad reminds me that I don’t find people like this anywhere else but home.
That’s why, dammit Texas, I can’t quit you.