Misleading Reputations

My favorite thing about working in New York this summer is getting the opportunity to visit different cities. Every city I go to I have a preconceived idea of what its like. What its going to look like, what the people are like, what the weather is like, etc. Reflecting back in the past year I have travelled quite a bit. I have visited ten different states and driven through another nine. I road tripped from Texas to California and back, Texas to Colorado and back, and Texas to New York and I’m not looking forward to the driving back part. Other trips include Ohio, Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Florida, New Orleans, Las Vegas twice, and Annapolis twice. The point of me telling you all of this is because what I expected to find in all of these travels was different then what I actually found.

Geographic reputations commonly lead to misperceptions. I will focus on two and touch on another. Before my trip to California I felt like I had heard every bitch as to why Cali, Southern California, in particular was such a disaster of a place to live. I had this stuck in my head that it would never be a place that I could picture myself living. It’s overcrowded, there’s forest fires, blackouts, earthquakes, landslides, liberal protestors, taxes are out of control, cost of living is insane, there’s smog, traffic, crime, and in general the people are too Hollywood, superficial, and materialistic. After I got there I realized this reputation was wholly unwarranted. Maybe not wholly but it wasn’t near as bad as it was made out to be. In fact it was pretty damn cool. Lush valleys, the ocean, palm trees, sunny 70 degree weather in January. None of the natural disasters hit when I was that wasn’t an issue. And last, in general, I didn’t notice that the people were that much different.

When I would tell people I was moving to New York for the summer to work for GE almost automatically people wished me “Good Luck with that”. Not a good luck with that in terms of I hope the job goes well, but good like with that as in good luck with everything that comes with moving to New York. I think the reputation that was in other people’s minds were more extreme than the one I had but I had my expectations none the less. What I found again was that these reputations are completely overrated. Very few New Yorkers actually talk like New Yorkers, and thank God for that. I’ve come to discover that the New York accent is more of a NYC thing and even then its blown out of proportion. On the subject of NYC I have to admit I was a little bit intimidated before my first trip down. I envisioned this filthy, dangerous place with prostitutes and homeless people everywhere. I envisioned chaos with ultra busy indescent assholish people flying around looking out only for themselves. I have only been to Manhattan so I can’t speak for the other burroughs but for the most part NYC was pretty freaking cool. It was a ton cleaner than I expected and there are ten times more homeless people in Austin then there are in NYC. I guess I never put together how incredibly expensive it is to live in Manhattan and how that would affect things. Once I got there I didn’t feel like it was dangerous at all and the intimidation factor quickly wilted away.

On my trip to Colorado over Spring Break I saw the same thing with Denver. When I thought of Denver I envisioned this Coors Light commercial with pure white snow-covered mountains, fresh mountain streams, and horses running free. No doubt there are parts of Colorado like that and it is a very beautiful place but I came to find out that Denver is a very industrial town which is not at all what I was expecting. I did not at all expect to see smoke stacks, factories, and rusted out anything that was metal.

My point is reputations are usually not all they are made out to be. Things are usually more normal than they are made out to be. I run into reputations and expectations that people have for me just being from Texas. Everyone expects that I love hunting, country music, George W Bush, football, and BBQ.  For me only about half of those things are true which surprises people. When I am introduced to a co-worker 90% of the time the first thing they tell me is “You don’t sound like you are from Texas.” I’ve never said it but everytime I think ‘Yea, most people don’t, just like you don’t talk like you are from New York.’



2 Responses to “Misleading Reputations”

  1. Chalmdt Says:

    Hujo, the insight which you have expressed is so true. Your blog reminds me of a quote I always remember by Samuel Johnson. “The use of traveling is to regulate the imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” WC

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