Californian submerged in Southern culture

Photo credit: Jaime Munoz

Photo credit: Jaime Munoz

Grant Schmieding

“Thanks, y’all, I appreciate yah,” a phrase my waitress uttered at least five times during my first experience at a southern diner. Famished after almost a full day of travel, I didn’t mind the excessive butter on almost all of my food and grits coming whether I liked it or not.

I spent my spring break in South Carolina. As someone who was born and raised in the Bay Area, making me the only guy in a 20-mile radius of the state that owns a tie-dye shirt, I experienced a bit of a culture shock.

Amidst all the light beer, barbecues, cowboy boots, Bojangles’, redbrick buildings, country music and Bass Pro Shops paraphernalia, four differences really stuck in my mind.

Excessive use of the term Y’all.

I’m all for gender-inclusive pronouns, but when I say “excessive use,” I ‘hella’ mean it. Locals seemed to say this just about every sentence, an absolute staple of their vocabulary. I challenge anyone to leave a South Carolina store without hearing “y’all come back now.”

So many pickup trucks.

With construction workers in my family and Chico being surrounded by nature and farmland, I like to think I have a fairly high tolerance for pickup trucks. However, South Carolina felt like a new level. Trust me, at any given time, there were enough pickup trucks on any mile-long stretch of highway to put Chico’s Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity house driveway to shame.

Southerners love their plaid shirts.

Don’t believe me? At any crowded bar, it was like I was pushing my way through Larry the Cable Guys’ wet dream. After parting a checkered sea, I actually found it refreshing to order a drink from a man wearing a bro tank that read, “you can’t lasso a tornado.”

A lot of well-groomed dogs.

Everyone and their mother seemed to have a well-trained, well-groomed dog. One of the local bars I went to even have “yappy hour” where people could let their dogs play in the bar’s fenced-off back patio. I love animals, so this was a really redeeming quality.

It wasn’t all bad, but by the end of the week, my head was swimming. I don’t think I’ll ever really fit in down south.

But “thanks y’all, I appreciate yah.”

Grant Schmieding can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @theorion_news.