Lauren Grenon

10 things that shocked me about the south

Lauren Grenon
10 things that shocked me about the south

1. The humidity. 

The humidity is for real people. My friend Taylor and I drove 42 hours without stopping to sleep, from California to North Carolina and didn't arrive here until 1am.  And let me tell you, when I stepped out of the car and took one breath of that sticky southern air I wanted to jump back in the car and go back to California. Don't get me wrong, California gets hot too.  The kind of heat that makes you want to just stay in the lake all day.  But it isn't wet heat.  You can breathe.  North Carolina in the summer feels like the devil stuck his hand down your throat and punched your lungs.  

2. Diesel pump handles aren't green? 

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Okay I know this is a random point and maybe this is just a California thing? I don't know. But where I come from, black means gas and green means diesel.  Imagine my surprise when I pull up to the gas station to get gas and nearly fill my tank with diesel.  My Honda CRV wouldn't have appreciated that at all.  I had to call my husband while he was at work and ask for help (sorry to the guy who was waiting for the pump...).

3.Wait... fried what?

They. Fry. Everything.  Things I didn't know could be fried.  Pickles, hamburgers, snicker bars, frog legs, catfish, tomatoes?  If you want to make sure that what you're ordering isn't fried then maybe ask the waiter because fried is just given down here.

4. Sweet tea

Do yourself a favor and just learn to like it.  Your tea will likely come with half a pound of sugar in it so either learn to love it or switch to water.  If you ask for unsweetened tea you will probably get the "Damn Yankee" look from your waitress and then most likely be told that they don't have unsweetened tea anyway. Personally, I accepted defeat and do enjoy sweet tea from time to time now.  If you're lucky, they may have unsweetened tea at the gas stations and mini marts but its probably pushed way to the back and it might have a layer of dust on it.  

5. Bless your heart isn't a compliment? 

I have not personally been on the receiving end of this comment (yet),  but I've seen it done and it sends chills up your spine.  As it turns out, it's not a compliment and whomever is blessing your heart probably doesn't give a damn if your heart is blessed or not.  It tends to be more of a "you poor thing" or just a really great under handed way of ending a conversation with someone you don't like because it is the non violent equivalent of a slap to the face. This completely changed a ton of movie scenes for me..

6. the MOLASSES slow pace. 

Everything moves slower down here. I've learned that aggressive passing maneuvers are not strictly reserved for the roads but also effective in the grocery store aisles and side walks.  No one is in a hurry to do anything down here.  The "left lane is for passing" concept that I was taught as an integral part of my driving school is apparently not taught down here.  So you either have to learn to figure out which gaps are shootable or just give yourself an extra ten minutes to get to work on time.   

7. Mustard on french fries.

Growing up in California I was THE ONLY kid who liked mustard on my fries (and hash browns) and was constantly given looks of horror and disgust.  OHHH how the tables have turned. I love tomatoes but have never liked ketchup so this is one piece of southern culture that I have no complaints about.  It's great watching the other northerners squirm though.

8. the bible belt is not a joke.

The first time I drove down the street on a Sunday and saw cop lights ahead I there had been a horrific accident. Nope. They just station police officers and their vehicles outside of EVERY DANG CHUCH EVERY DANG SUNDAY to direct traffic.  The Sunday morning traffic down here is real.  Coming from California, it was really abnormal for things to be closed down on Sundays (...except for Chick-Fil-A.  That's not a southern thing, that's an everywhere thing).  But around here if you need something on a Sunday you better just pray for it.

9. The political climate.  

I was raised in California. Now I'm in North Carolina. No further explanation needed.   

10. no recycling? 

Okay this is an exaggeration. You can recycle.  You just have to pay double to do it.  California is definitely ahead of the curve when it comes to recycling.  They have recycling bins around every corner and prepare to be eye shamed if you throw your soda bottle in the trash can (why are you using a plastic bottle in the first place?...bro), well not here.  Recycling bins are few and far between and no one cares if you use them or not.  Environmentalism is not really a thing here.  At first it gave me pure anxiety to see grocery store clerks double plastic bagging everything but now the sweet tea has brainwashed me. Just kidding. I do still care and try to make a point of asking for no double bagging. Oh and if you bring your own bags into the store?....You'll get looked at like you just walked in naked.  I have been here since August and am yet to see a single other person bring their bags into the store.