September 29, 2023

Transplants . . . by Brendon Marks


In the days before GPS systems in cars and smartphones with Google maps, I was putting gas in my car in McGuireville and another car pulled up on the opposite side of the pump.

The driver didn’t need gas, just directions.

He said, “We just came from Sedona, can you tell me how to get to Cottonwood?”

I really didn’t want to stop pumping gas because I was afraid the price would go up before I finished, but I took a chance.

I said, “Sure, are you coming back this way?”

He said, “Why?”

I said, “Well, I was going to ask you to pick up a few things for me at Wal-Mart.”

Let me tell you, when they’re lost, folks from Oregon don’t have much of a sense of humor. It might have had something to do with the woman in the passenger seat with a Road Atlas in her lap and Stage IV disgust on her face.

I said, “You could go through Cornville and then left on 89A, but I think you should get back on I-17 South, take exit 287, go right on 260, and that will take you straight into Cottonwood. The road’s better and you avoid the turtle zone in Cornville.”

He said, “Too many numbers,” looked at the woman, “Can you write that down?”

She waved her arms in a frantic gesture that I interpreted as, “I don’t have a pen.” So I repeated, “I-17 South, exit 287, right on 260.”

He asked, “Are there signs?”

“Yep,” I said, “big ones.”

Come to think of it though, if he had a Road Atlas, ended up in McGuireville while trying to follow the four lane highway from Sedona to Cottonwood, doesn’t have a pen in the car, and has trouble remembering three 3-digit numbers, there’s not much chance I’d ever see my groceries either.

I suppose I shouldn’t issue a blanket condemnation for all Oregonians. Just because there were Oregon license plates (just like Arizona but with a fir tree instead of a cactus) on the car and he was wearing a Ducks ball cap, isn’t absolute proof they were from Oregon. They could be Oregon wannabes transplanted from California desperately wanting to endure more rain without committing completely to the rain forest of Seattle, Washington.

I remember when I transplanted to Arizona from upstate New York and the derisive snorts I would receive when I told a native I was from New York. Insisting that I got here as soon as I could made no difference. Apparently no one outside of a 50 mile arc in a southerly to westerly direction from New York City realizes that there is anything else in New York State between New York City and Niagara Falls.

There were also things I had to do so it wasn’t immediately obvious that I was a transplant such as not wearing a tank top and shorts or driving with the car window open after Thanksgiving, even though the outside temperature was the same as the high for July in New York.

I had to wear a bolo tie and jeans to church, with rules. The bolo tie had to have a scorpion, roadrunner, cactus, or a big chunk of turquoise. The Arizona Cardinals logo was not allowed, because they’re transplants, too. The jeans had to be “boot cut” and definitely never “relaxed fit.”

It was a good idea to memorize the entire five-term voting record of Senator Barry Goldwater, and a bad idea to mention the 1964 presidential election.

Finally, in defense of the lower speed limit through Cornville, there is a good explanation. There are no sidewalks in Cornville, so the kids have to play hopscotch in the streets, and since technically that’s teaching the kids how to count from 1 to 8; the town council (or Bubba as we call him) has designated the entire town as a school zone.

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