I am going to preface this post by saying that we enjoyed Texas. Half my family on my mom’s side of the family resides in Texas and they have done so for over a decade. Nonetheless during our time in the state we discovered some “unspoken truths” that really open your eyes to how cultural differences are not only racially/ethnically based but also demographically.
Here is our story…
When we moved to Houston, TX from Michigan and Illinois in 2008 things definitely did not go as planned (see Hurricane Fail, coming soon). Yet, as we got acclimated to: the hot and humid weather, the culture, and the people we started to enjoy the state. There were rodeos, livestock shows, and cowboy boots and hats galore. My husband even prided himself on buying a black cowboy hat to wear. He almost got me to agree to him getting matching boots with spurs but this was abruptly silenced by a rolling of my eyes. I finally had my very own “Indian cowboy”, or so I enthusiastically made him think.
Thanks to our Garmin we were able to navigate to our new city. We also found ourselves suffocating in an “intentional lack of zoning” for the first time in our adult lives. What do I mean by this? We never understood the importance of zoning or urban planning until now. As we drove through Houston we saw huge homes/mansions next to liquor stores, adult shops, churches, clothing stores, payday loan places, and tons of billboards crowding the streets. It was something to this day we never could get used to. Since we were both in sales there was a lot of time spent in the car going to meet with potential customers across the entire state.
Here are 7 unspoken truths we encountered by moving from the Midwest to Texas with ethnic names:
1.) You will eventually be called a Yankee to your face. Afterwards, you will be expected to simply smile and nod back like that was a pleasantry.
2.) The majority of people you meet will mess up the spelling and pronunciation of your name. Nikita becomes Naketa, Nukita, Nokeeta; anything but Nikita.
3.) You may find yourself adopting a more “common name” so that people can spell and pronounce your name without constantly butchering your name. For example, the name Sachin. When you start to spell it out for the inquirer/person on the phone, you say S as in Sam, A as in apple, C as in cat, H as in horse, I as in ink, and N as in Nancy. With a quick interruption, the inquirer/person stops you and says S as in Sam, ok Sam. You instantly go from being Sachin to Sam.
4.) Implementing the previous step may also help you to promptly set up meetings and get return phone calls (particularly if you are in sales). Nikita become Nikki and you land 9/10 sales calls instead of 1/10.
5.) You will find yourself wanting to create your own southern drawl/accent so that you fit in, even if it sounds horrendous.
6.)You will start saying Ma’am and Sir. And begin to enjoy using these terms in your daily dialog because everyone does. “Yes, Ma’am!” “Thank you, sir!”
7.) You will find yourself using southern jargon. Instead of saying “I’m about to go to the store or I am headed to the store.” You will begin to say, “I’m fixing or I’m finna go to the store.”
**If you live in Texas, of course Texas is always bigger and better!
***We fight discrimination with love, humor, and walking away if all else fails.
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