Photo: aaronj9/Shutterstock

How to Become Culturally Arizonan in 13 Steps

by Angela Orlando Sep 12, 2017

1. Carry a bottle of water with you. Everywhere. It’s tough to be culturally competent while passed out from heat stroke.

2. Same with sunglasses. Check to make sure you have your wallet/purse, keys, water bottle, and shades before leaving the house.

3. Up your spice threshold. Our version of “mild” food is your rendition of “holy crap that’s hot.” If you can’t handle picante, you’re going hungry.

4. Learn Spanish. It’s respectful to a big chunk of the population, and if you don’t, you won’t know whether El Camino or Calle Escondito leads to the Rio Salado…and no, that last one does not translate to “Brazil Salad”.

5. Step on the accelerator. It’s the pedal on the right. The speed limit is 75 miles per hour on most highways and almost everybody goes about 85 or faster.

6. Learn to say these words: Suh-wah-ro. Preskitt. Heel-a. Too-sawn.

7. Avoid anyone driving a street-legal dune buggy. Rare as a Gila Monster, these maniacs are equally dangerous. And fast.

8. Avoid anyone visibly toting a gun and assume other people have a Concealed Carry gun permit and you just can’t see their weapons.

9. Learn to swim. Soon, you’ll be screening potential new friends by whether they have access to a pool or not.

10. Wear when you’re in the southern part of the state: flip-flops, fashionable cowgirl hat, tank tops, and very short cut-off jeans (not so much for men). And unless you want to dress up as an Arizonan cliché for Halloween, do not wear: ostrich cowboy boots, a bolo tie necklace, a bandana, long-sleeve shirts with snaps, Blue Blocker sunglasses, or the very tempting T-shirts with wolves or eagles found in every gas station.

11. Learn to embrace weather extremes without complaining too much — at least not for a few years. Southern desert dwellers know that 100-degree heat just breaks the ice on the Santa Cruz River. Northern mountain dwellers sometimes snowshoe to work.

12. Consider your vehicle carefully because what you drive screams out your identity. Showy giant 4×4 truck? You share a lot of the Red State mentality unless you need a gas-guzzler to haul animals, wood, or art supplies. Volvo or Subaru? Green, outdoorsy middle-class hipster. Beater car? Impoverished AZ school teacher trying to live, hand to mouth.

13. Politics — tread lightly. In fact, avoid the subject and complain about the heat or something else.

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