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The Trouble With Westerners

by The Cranky Media Guy

I took a quick trip over the weekend from my current home of Virginia to one of those states near the upper left hand corner of the country. Oh, screw it! Let me stop being cute and just tell you where I was--Boise, Idaho.

I was there because several years ago when I was (sort of) a radio talk show host in Allentown, PA, a guy who worked down the hall on the FM station told me he liked what I did and that some day we would work together. I've had several people say that kind of thing to me over the years; usually promises like that are about as valid as the ones guys make to pretty girls in bars about getting them into the movie business. Amazingly, eight years after the fact, this promise is about to come true. Go figure.

So, anyway, I was in Boise to meet with the bosses of the radio station in question. I must not have looked like the Menace to Society that I am, because they're going along with this ridiculous idea of letting me work out there too.

Which brings me to the topic of this commentary: What The Hell Is Wrong With Westerners? Granted, I was in and out of town pretty fast, but everyone I met was friendly, way beyond the call of duty. It was as if "stress" was an alien concept or something. There's something just plain wrong with that.

See, I'm from the Bronx where we know that stress is just God's way of letting you know you're alive. The only unstressed Bronxite is the current guest of honor at the local funeral parlor. No stress = no life.

Then you get to a place like Boise and it's as if there's a whole different set of rules. The people out there actually seem to think that you're supposed to take it easy. They're friendly. To strangers. For no reason. Even when they aren't asking for money.

Although I blew through Boise faster than the tornado in the Wizard of Oz, I think I have a clue to why people are so damned cheerful. It's because there's so much ROOM out there. Like in every town in Generica, there's a road where I live in Virginia that has all the strip malls, Wal-Marts and that kind of stuff on it. It's two lanes in each direction and overloaded with traffic. What do the wizards on the local planning board have in mind? Why, two great big new malls on the same road, of course. As Helen Keller could plainly see, this is going to bring traffic to a screeching halt and back it up on to nearby I-95's off ramp. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, say the local planners. Gridlock ahoy, says me.

Last Friday night, soon after I arrived in Boise, my friend and I were in search of some fast food. We were heading away from the city center on some road, the name of which I didn't catch. It was kind of the local equivalent of the Virginia road I was just talking about. The difference is that the Boise road was about six lanes in each direction (or so it seemed). Unlike the one here in the Old Dominion, which has six traffic lights in just over a mile, I think the next light after you left Boise's downtown was in Portland, Oregon.

No wonder no one's stressed out there. They can set the speed control, lock the steering wheel in place and read a paper while they drive out to Jack In The Box. I suppose that probably sounds like a Good Thing to a lot of you, but to this Bronx Boy, there's just something wrong with it. Remember, no stress = no life.

And another thing--the scenery out there is too nice and the air is too clean. Oh man, I can see that this move is going to take a LOT of adjustment. On the part of the people already living out there, I mean. They're just going to have to come up to my stress level. God knows, I can't change. I'm from the Bronx.

 

 

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