Under whelmed by the differences

"A Royale with cheese. What do they call a Big Mac?" "Well, a Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it le Big-Mac." -Pulp Fiction http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110912/quotes

On a recent visit to El Paso Texas while shopping around for a job I coined the phrase that I was "Under whelmed by the differences" between Lubbock and El Paso. I know it sounds odd, but at age 25 it was the first time I had ever ridden in a plane by myself.

For whatever reason I kept expecting to be driving in El Paso, take a left turn and then suddenly the street would be made out of bananas. Obviously this isn't the case but for some reason I expected something bizarre to happen, and when it didn't. I stated to wonder why I had even thought it would have been so different.

The same thing happened when I went to Phoenix. From the inside it's just another building, from the outside it's a consistent background traffic noise from whatever thoroughfare is closest, not really loud, just a constant Doppler Shift of passing cars. Asphalt, concrete, and billboards surround you at all times. Once you get into a rural area it gets quieter. Rows of houses tightly packed together with neighbors who don't know each others names. You can hit the big chain fast food places within a 15 minute drive. Bus stops with people who look really depressed or asleep.

Clear skies but you can only see up and not out. There are mountains in the distance in El Paso and Phoenix, which is something they don't have in Lubbock. I've still not found a use for them though, much like the canyons in West Texas. Near as I can tell they are just impediments to development, which makes them handy for camping trips anyway. I do like the idea of keeping some land "set aside" and free from development, or even human interaction, of any kind, it just always seems that wilderness turns into prime real estate. Back to the issue at hand, the weather in both places seems to be pretty dry, which causes lots of dust and dead grass. Lubbock gets the occasional high winds, with strong winds being a frequent occurrence, I didn't notice that in Phoenix, I'll have to pay closer attention.

One morning in Phoenix when I had to get up really early. At 6:30 AM I saw a light frost on the top of my car. I wondered if the Phoenicians see much frost at all. That same week one of the morning shows commented that Boston had some icy roads and put up a clip filmed that morning of two cars skid and then collide. The news caster commented that must be why so many people move to Phoenix.

Phoenix is really created out of something like 10 town immediately surrounding it. And when I say immediately, I mean it, you can be traveling down a road for 5 miles that if you turn left you are in Phoenix, if you turn right you are in Scottsdale. I'm sure there will be "little things" that I'll start to notice that's different about each town that makes it unique, but for right now it's just that food isn't taxed in Phoenix while it is in Scottsdale. Off the top of my head it's Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Paradise Valley, again I'm sure I can name the rest after I spend more time there.

Something I did notice was that Phoenix has a few phrases unique to them (much like Lubbock). In Lubbock you often hear it referred to as "The Hub City", on the thinking that it's the center of a big rural area that people come into for their shopping needs. I guess it's for their shopping needs, I'm not sure why they are driving in otherwise. Phoenix and it's surrounding towns are collectively called "The Valley" since it has mountains around it, there are a few inside of it as well.

I don't know if I just notice it more, or if it really is there more, but some of the people in the service industry, or who work a register, have been down right rude to me. I consider myself nothing but nice to everyone else so I'm taken aback when I'll ask a question about a product they sell and they will respond without any help or any offer to find out. If I catch more of that, I'll let you know.

The apartments there costs more, I don't think that was a surprise to anyone. The very nice 1100 square foot 2 bed, 2 bath, no bill paid apartment in Lubbock runs at $525. A 300 square foot studio no bed 1 bath, utilities (minus phone/tv/internet) paid in almost downtown Phoenix runs at $480. I won't be living here permanently; I'll soon look for a two bedroom apt that allows pets when the wife comes over. I'm sure she will have a comment I can pass along to you.

Something everyone keeps warning me about is the heat. Thank god for air conditioning. In the time I was there I think once it got up to around 80 degrees and actually be hot. Mostly hovering around 70 or 65 degrees fahrenheit. I'll let you know more as the summer approaches.

Documenting my transition

Lubbock Texas; Ranked the second most conservative town by the Bay Area Center for Voting Research, has been my home for the last 7 years.

West Texas; My home since 1982.

Goodbye. I'll miss you.

Hello Phoenix Arizona; my new home due to a new job.

Thus far I've visited Phoenix twice in two 12 day trips. Staying at hotels and meeting my coworkers. This Sunday, January 1st, I'll be making the drive and will chronicle the changes I find and the differences I see. If you are also a recent West Texas to Phoenix pilgrim, I'd love to hear your perceptions about the change as well.