My Dad and stepmom are moving to Atlanta! Yay! They’ll actually be close enough for holiday visits and stuff, as opposed to flying out every couple of years to Phoenix. I will admittedly miss the excuse to visit AZ, which is one of my favorite places, but I’ll stoked that they’ll be within driving distance!

I have been trying to think of the things you warn non-Southerners about when moving to the South. All I’ve got is “Do you know what the humidity is like?” and “Okra is a cruel trap perpetrated on the unsuspecting.” Since I only know Atlanta in passing, I’m not sure what to warn them about there…granted they’re from Maricopa County, the politics can’t be much more reactionary…

  • reply woollythinker ,

    Oh dear. I was hoping okra was a surprise treat. A housesitter left me with a can of the stuff (!!) and I have no idea what to do with it. “Throw it out” just seems terribly wasteful.

    • reply Hawk ,

      Okra isn’t bad fresh (in my opinion). Canned okra seems like some kind of cruel joke. Frozen is good only for soups.

      Humidity is pretty much it though; if they’ve been in/near Phoenix they already know heat quite, quite well. I have an aunt that lives south of Phoenix. Yes, there’s life there 😛

      Atlanta: Traffic in-city is probably about as bad as any other major metro area (my experiences with major metro being, thankfully, limited). But it’s the suburban/rural traffic that may terrify them, because frankly, most of the South has roads that make Westerners go “WTF!” The South does not spend extra width on roads, unless the road is following federal guidelines. Moving from west Texas to south Mississippi had some nasty shocks for me…I remember asking my mother how anyone kept from crashing into each other on roads that seemed (to me) to not be big enough to let two midsize cars pass each other safely.

      • reply Runewen ,

        One thing I ALWAYS warn my out-of-state friends about is the pollen. Atlanta has two major pollen seasons, in spring and in fall, and several people I know discovered they had allergies, or developed them, after moving to Atlanta. A high pollen count is around 100 – Atlanta regularly gets pollen counts of up to 5,000. You can SEE it in the air, like a yellow haze.

        • reply twistedchick ,

          Compared to Phoenix, Atlanta is hilly. It’s in the foothills, and this makes a difference for walking and driving in a lot of places. This is what I noticed most on my trip there last year; I had expected it to be flatter.

          • reply Wolf Lahti ,

            Kudzu! Warn them about kudzu!

            • reply Chelsea ,

              If you find yourself with a lot of okra, try an Indian (like India-Indian) recipe rather than a traditional one. I’ve found a good recipe that sautees them in butter, cumin, and something else that escapes me as present; I add mushed tofu to incorporate some of the okra slime, and it yields a very interesting texture. Canned … is between you and your God.

              Atlanta’s freeways are a great Gordian knot of hell. Bring the Tom-Tom.’

              In my experience, West Coasters will always be asked whether they’re Yankees. There is some element of ingrained suspicion.

              All the other things I’ve discovered in my coast-to-coast move are pleasant things, like nice young men all of a year younger than I saying things like “Ma’am, may I trouble y’all for a moment?”

              • reply Lisa ,

                I’ll second the pollen issue–I thought something had gone wrong with my eyes during the first pollen season in grad school, when everything yellow-shifted,until I touched a black metal railing one day and the stuff came off on my hand–plan on finding a good allergist.

                Also, just be prepared for the things people will be willing to say. It wasn’ t so much the politics that surprised me (I was expecting that), as the absolute, shameless candor about saying really amazingly awful things (and you’re sitting there, uncomfortable and embarrassed for them, and then realize you’re the only person in the room who is)…it can really throw you for a loop.

                • reply Tarliman ,

                  Atlanta is the City of Our Lady of Perpetual Reconstruction. The freeways are always being worked on, and the offramp you used yesterday may not be there today. Downtown is a Habitrail. I walked into a building, got lost, and by the time I found a door to the street was three blocks away. Watch out for street designators. Half the streets are named Peachtree, and whether it’s a boulevard, or an avenue, or a street, or a road, makes a huge amount of difference. Mass transit is decent enough – MARTA has a north-south line and an east-west line, and the buses loop out from the train stations and back again. Caned okra is an abomination not fit for the compost pile. Fresh okra, if treated right, is darn tasty. cut it up, dry-fry it for a minute or so, then bread it and deep fry it and you’re in hog heaven. Call it bhindi and you’ve got a wealth of Indian recipes for it, like Chelsea said.

                  • reply Douglas Henke ,

                    Dear non-Southerners:

                    If you order tea in a restaurant here, the default setting is “iced”. Yes, even if it’s a Chinese or Indian restaurant. Yes, even if it is a nice one. (You can often still get hot tea, but you have to ask.)

                    In some places in the South, the (iced) tea is available in two variants: sweet and unsweet. The latter is what you expect. The former is heavily-sugared, syrupy and deeply vile. Which is the default is site-localization-dependent, and I’m not sure which option applies to Atlanta. Tread carefully.

                    • reply Escher ,

                      I suspect iced tea is the default in AZ too, given the heat, but yes — for you Yankees, be aware that if you want hot tea in the south, you have to say “hot tea”.

                      Sweet tea is tricky. If you’re in Texas (as I am), sweet tea isn’t a bad deal; it’s generally about as sweet as, say, a lemonade, and not quite as sugary as a Sprite. I often order a half-and-half mix of sweet and unsweet. If you go somewhere else in the south, you may wind up with an awful brew that sounds more like the instructions for making some form of candy: boil water, pour in sugar until it stops dissolving, then throw in the teabags and wait until it’s cool. It’s usually safer to always specify “unsweet tea” and add sugar packets to taste.

                      But, eh, personally I’m happier with just drinking unsweetened iced tea. Nothin’ wrong with that. Unless they boiled the leaves and got it really tannic, ugh.

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