Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fitting in


This editorial appeared in the Issaquah Press. The story about Nome was modified for a family paper in case you heard it another way.

 

Being new to the community, I wonder how to blend in and be thought an old timer or at least a regular. I have discovered that how one does this varies among geographic areas of the country.

In Alaska, you were either a chechako (newcomer)or a sourdough (old timer). How you made the transition depended on who you asked. Most of the explanations are rooted in old Alaska before the advent of modern roads and air travel. Some say you had to have missed the last boat out at least once, which meant you had been there through at least one winter. Others say you had to have relieved yourself in the Yukon River.

And then there was the fellow who walked into a bar in Nome, located in treeless, tundra and asked how to become a sourdough. He was told he had to drink a fifth of whisky, hug a tree and kill a polar bear.

He unwisely drank the fifth of whisky first and headed out the door. He stumbled back into the bar a couple of hours later all bloody and torn up and asked, “now where is that tree I’m supposed to shoot?”

I related this story to an old timer in Mt. View, Arkansas, which is so deep in the Ozarks they don’t get Grand Ole Opry until Wednesday night.  We were listening to mountain music in the courthouse square. Every evening, the hill folk come to town with their guitars, auto harps, bass fiddles, mandolins, or dulcimers, form little musical groups around the square and entertain the folks. I asked the old timer how I could become the Ozark equivalent of a sourdough.

“Well,” he drawled, “you could live here 80 years and you’d still be an outsider, though it might help a little if you were a 33rd degree Mason.”

So, what does it take to become the Issaquah equivalent of a sourdough?

You might be an Issaquah old timer if you can order at Starbucks without the barista saying “what!”

You might be an Issaquah old timer if you have renewed your Costco card at least once.

You might be an Issaquah old timer if you no longer use an umbrella.

You might be an Issaquah old timer if you prefer roundabouts to four-way stops.

You might be an Issaquah old timer if you no longer stop before entering a roundabout.

You might be an Issaquah old timer if you leave your GPS at home.

You might be an Issaquah old timer if you go on more than six hikes a year.

You are an Issaquah old timer if you went to school with Rob Pickering.

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