I’ve lived in Florida for over a year now. We moved from northern Michigan to here and set up shop in the – not really in The South, we seem to be too far south to be in The South, and 85% of the people here seem to have a New York accent. Still, I’ve spent some time researching how to fit in when in The South, and how to behave in The South, and how to be a Southern Gentleman. I like some things about The South – the manners, the gentility, the hospitality – but the more I read, the more it seems like a divisive “we’re grand and the North is shit” mentality. Again, The South has its good points, but there are some good things about the North, and I’d like to list what I think they are, in no particular order. I know some of this is a rehash of an earlier post, but then again, some of it isn’t.
If someone is friendly to you, it’s genuine. It may be as rare as a two-headed snake, but it’s real. Before I moved south, people told me “oh, they’re friendly to your face, but they’ll stab you in the back,” and I laughed it off. As I read up on it, though, the fake friendliness bugs me. Did you know that a Southerner could invite you to their house to dinner…to meet somebody else that might want to be your friend? They don’t want to be your friend, oh, God forbid, but they’ll set up the meeting with someone else that has standards low enough to befriend a Yankee. In the North, if someone invites you to dinner, they want to be your friend. End of story. If a cashier passes the time of day with you, it’s because they genuinely enjoy talking to customers – not because momma told them to be polite even to the ar-tards.
The Civil War Is Over. I love this fact about the North. It is no longer fighting the Civil War, nor is it obsessing over the results. I will always be surprised at the recently-erected monuments to the Confederate States of America in the South and the references to “the war of northern aggression.” Yes, I sound like a damn Yankee…but my family all immigrated to this country after 1865. Please keep the attitude to yourself. Better yet, remember that the war ended almost 150 years ago, and there are no more survivors, from either side. Despite common belief, there are no celebrations of Northern Victory, or any bumper stickers shouting “The South Won’t Rise Again.” The war is over. Let it go.
I love that people move faster in the North. They drive the speed limit as a minimum. When you order from McDonald’s (et al) in the North, it’s actually fast food. You will see them put the burger in the flippin’ bag within a couple of minutes. Work gets done quicker; commuting gets done quicker; shopping gets done quicker. Hell, pretty much everything gets done quicker, and you get to have more time to do the things you want to do.
Seasons – oh how I love different seasons. This may be a problem specific to Florida, and there are probably actual seasons farther north in the South…but in Florida, there seems to be summer…and hot summer. Christmas is in the summer. Valentine’s day is in the summer. Independence Day? Blistering hot. I miss the bright-green leaves of new growth in the spring. I miss the bright fall colors. I even miss a bit of snow. Now, Michigan is extreme and could have 7 months of winter…but the other three seasons are there, too. I miss seasons, and the North has them.
Another thing that’s great in the North is that by and large, the great outdoors is not out to kill you. You can go for a walk pretty much anywhere you can park your car…and the only thing that will hurt you is if you trip and twist your ankle. Poisonous snakes? No. Fire ants? No. Poisonous, mouse-sized spiders? No. Toads that secrete toxins from their skin? No. Poisonous plants? No. Sinkholes? No. Florida’s ecosystem can be described in three words: “Poisonous and Aggressive.” What’s in the North? Squirrels, rabbits, deer, possum, ducks and pheasants. There are coyotes, but they walk the other way. There’s the occasional bear, if you’re far enough north…but they don’t go out looking for humans. There are mosquitos, and black flies…but they won’t give you a disease, just an itch or a welt. You can lay down on the grass and be okay. You can walk in knee-deep grass and be okay. You can walk through the forest and be okay. It’s benign, and I love that.
Another thing that’s great in the North is the grass – It’s actually grass, and not this weird, spreading-vine St. Augustine stuff. You can plant grass from a bag of seeds, and if you water it, it grows. St. Augustine comes on a truck, in expensive squares, and if you water it it may still turn brown and die. And it’s tough to push a mower through, and it looks crappy even at its level best. Give me fescue and bluegrass any day.
The heat is just…less up north. This may well be personal preference, because some people love heat that others consider unreasonable. Still, I love not being stuck indoors because of 105-degree heat indexes. Really hot days happen in the north…but rarely, and it makes you appreciate the cool days more. When it’s just always hot, it’s tough to appreciate. There needs to be a couple of days of snow to point out why you moved to Florida…if you’re seeking heat. But there aren’t a couple of days of snow…ever. The last time it snowed in Tampa…I was seven years old. That’s no way to provide perspective on the heat. And I like that there’s just not as much heat up north.
And that’s it, these are seven things I can think of right now that the North does better than the South, from a personal point of view, not a “statistically speaking, the industrial base of –“ no, not that. More personally-touchable things. And…have a good day.