Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"day 72 in the twilight zone"

That's what my brother said to me when I answered his phone call last evening. I knew he had a good story for me, probably from his day at work.

My brother lives in Iron County, in a certain city with a lighthouse...you know, to guide the ships. Technically he lives in a town that, if it lived up to it's namesake would be translated. But the address says Cedar, and that's where he works.

The people he works with make his life seem like the twilight zone. Really.

Now, before you get all huffy and think, "Ooooh, Mister I'm-from-New-York thinks he's better than the Southern Utah small-town folk," let me give you some information.

I will compare, for socioeconomic statistical purposes, Cedar City, Utah, with Jamestown, New York. (Again with the technicalities: the small town that James is in now is Enoch, Utah, and the small town we grew up in is Busti, New York.)

Jamestown, New York:
Population (year 2000): 31,730
Median resident age: 36.2 years
Median household income: $25,837 (year 2000)
Median house value: $52,400 (year 2000)
Land area: 9.0 square miles
High school or higher: 79.4%
Bachelor's degree or higher: 14.8%
Graduate or professional degree: 6.2%
Unemployed: 8.3%

Cedar City, Utah:
Population (year 2000): 20,527
Median resident age: 23.3 years
Median household income: $32,403 (year 2000)
Median house value: $121,600 (year 2000)
Land area: 20.1 square miles
High school or higher: 91.3%
Bachelor's degree or higher: 28.1%
Graduate or professional degree: 9.5%
Unemployed: 5.5%

*The education statistics refer to those aged 25 and older.*

As you can see, by comparison, Cedar City is statistically superior to Jamestown in household income, house value, and, please note, educated residents.

That being noted...

The majority of the folks James works with are locals. They are around James's age. James has found that he has little to nothing in common with these people. That's not what bothers him. It's the interactions that happen that make James feel as though he's being Punk'd.

First example: The topic of music comes up and James notices that the musical tastes of his co-workers don't necessarily reflect those of his own choosing. Their choices include hard rap, country, Iron Maiden and Megadeath. When he expressed his disbelief, they asked what he listens to. "Oh, you know, just...regular music, normal stuff."

"Like what?"

"I don't know...Coldplay."

"Coldplay?"

"Yeah."

*silence and blank stares*

James continues, "Come on, you know, Coldplay? They had the number one selling album in the world last year?"

"Never heard of it."

"What?!"

"What else?"

"Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson."

"Who?!"

"You have got to be kidding me."

"Jack Johnson - that's made up."

"Please tell me you're joking."

"Wait, I've heard of Dave Matthews...but I've never heard any of his music."

*girl walks in*

"Hey, Stacey, have you ever heard of John Jackson?"

That was about a month ago. Last week, the boss took the crew out to dinner, and they were joined by some workers from the St. George area. James thought that maybe since they were from a bigger area, and due to their trendy style of dress, they might be more familiar with the music that was so alien to his co-workers. At that moment, a Stevie Wonder song came on at the restaurant.

"Hey, Stacey, do you know who sings this song?"

"No."

"Stevie Wonder."

"Never heard of him."

"You should have. I mean, he's no Tupac, but he's one of the greatest musicians of your time - before your time, really."

A few of his co-workers laughed and said mockingly to the St. George workers, "James listens to the weirdest music."

"It's not weird." Turning to St. Georgians, "Is Coldplay weird?"

"Never heard of it."

"WHAT?!"

"Hahaha, yeah, and who's that other guy, James, Jack-whatever?"

"Jack Johnson. You have to know Jack Johnson."

"Jack Johnson...oh yeah, he's the Curious George guy!"

"Yeah...okay."

Today the report went as follows:

James has been informed that the word that describes the person who graduates at the top of their class is called a valevictorian. This is not from just one person, but from most people in James's office.

"You are wrong."

"Nuh-uh! I just called five people and they all agree with me. I'll call more..."

"Um, Iron County phone calls aren't going to cut it here. Look it up."

"If it's not valevictorian, then what is it?"

"It's valedictorian."

"How do you spell it?"

"How do you spell valevictorian?"

"V-a-l-i-v-i-c-k-t-o-r-e-a-n."

"Congratulations. You have just incorrectly spelled a word that doesn't exist."

"Whatever. I'll just call someone smarter than you."

"Stacey, you don't know anyone smarter than me."

I anxiously await more tales...

29 comments:

La Yen said...

I think that he is cool, irregardlessly of what those ignorant guys supposably say.

AzĂșcar said...

This is so, so, awesome. I mean, even Abe Lincoln listens to Coldplay.

I seriously love this story. Please James, don't ever, ever move. Send us more stories from the front.

compulsive writer said...

Great story. Speaking of Stevie Wonder. (Well, I'm not actually. But I was trying to segue back to the last century). I recently discovered that there are two relatively educated people right here in Provo who've been over 21 for a respectable amount of time but who have never heard a single song by James Taylor. (Of course one of them didn't know who Katie Couric was either, so why am I surprised?)

Julie said...

Okay, I'll admit it: I don't know who Coldplay is. But at least I know who Stevie Wonder is. And I don't listen to rap, coutry, Iron Maiden, or Megadeath. Am I still a redneck?

This is a great story! That whole spelling thing is classic Utahn. I was born and raised here, and I've seen it. I must clarify, however, that I DO know how to spell, speak proper grammar, and use a dictionary. I can even pronounce Crayons correctly: "kray-onz." Not "krenz" like my cousins from Brigham City. Maybe James should have his co-workers try to spell Crayons...

Hang in there, James.

Anonymous said...

Was Stacey's name changed to protect the innocent?

~j. said...

I don't know...ANONYMOUS.

LuckyRedHen said...

"Congratulations. You have just incorrectly spelled a word that doesn't exist."

Classic. Love it.

beans said...

i love that story. it's so ironical because i deal with morons on a daily basis as well. i know how james fills and i hope he can dill with them for a little bit longer.

thanks for a good blog to get me rolling in the morning before i go and deal with my own twilight zone. and i don't get paid to be there... i PAY to be there.

Anonymous said...

Uhhh Beans. It's DEAL not dill.

~j. said...

Uhhh anonymous. It's also not ironical or fill. She's contributing to the story. Identify yourself or stop trying to play.

~j. said...

carina - I TOTALLY thought of the Abe Lincoln thing as I was writing this post.

compulsive - Never? Have they never watched Sesame Street and heard 'Jelly Man Kelly'? That's a shame.

julie - Growing up, I said 'kranz'. I hope it doesn't make me a redneck.

Lyle said...

My wife and I spent our third married year in Cedar City, while I did a short stint at SUU and worked at Jones Paint & Glass. I will say that living in Cedar City was more foreign than living in Lubbock, TX.

I will say that I have heard of Coldplay and Stevie Wonder. However, I'm clueless about the others.

The city (town) of Enoch is so isolated from the rest of the world, it probably could be translated.

La Yen said...

Oooh Oooh--tell about the polygamyst cookies!

compulsive writer said...

Apparently they've never been Up on the Roof or on a Country Road or in a Traffic Jam or Got a Friend, either. Sad. But true.

But I must also confess the following: I'm not a redneck, but I married into some. I am also the token white trash of my neighborhood. But I do know who Coldplay is and now every time I hear one of their songs I have visions of Cedar City.

My question for the day is this: How can a place that really can do Shakespeare better than Stratford be that far culturally removed from the rest of the planet?

(I love Cedar City, by the way. I want to move there when I grow up. St. George is overrated.)

Sue said...

As I sit hear with Coldplay playing on my stereo at work, I ponder this question... Would a female valevictorian be a "vulvavictorian"?
Just asking.

beans said...

thanks for backing me up jenny

c jane said...

Very funny Sue.


(laughing)

Tori :) said...

"...the Curious George guy." Are you freakin' kidding me?? Out of all JJ's great music, they only know the lullaby cd?!!

Lyle said...

BTW, I tried telling a joke about sales taxes (while I was living in Cedar City (when MIke Leavitt was governor) and nobody laughed. I had forgotten that his family comes from there.

There is no good dining in Cedar City.

I'll juz stop raggin on CC and say somethin nice. I met a lot of nice peoples durin my stay. Locals get a nice discount on tikets.

Them Shak-a-spear folks put on a great show.

waldo said...

Jenny, it's Megadeth. No second "A." I am not lying. Google it.
:)

BTW, I finally posted a new blog. So there.

-w.

~j. said...

lyle - Yeah, I wondered about the "nice dinner" thing - where could they possibly have gone??

w - You would know, if anyone.

;)

La Yen said...

Maybe they went up to the Garden of Eatin near Beaver, or they got some cheese curd.

Rachel said...

Reminds me of "fustrated," "valentimes," and fermiliar" (my husband says fermiliar and i correct him every time. he's from a different cc, clovis, cali.)

i've heard valevictorian, too. unfortunate.

Lorien said...

I bet they sleep on pellows and drink melk in CC. Those are my peeves. I'm sure I'm guilty of plenty, but as for me and my house, we color with kray-ons (but usually we paint--you know, that artist influence.)

Great blog. See you tomorrow.

Emily said...

Hard rock/country fans haven't graduated to newer music in the last decade or so? Iron Maiden and Megadeth (no a)?? Surely there must be more current death metal.

Cardine said...

-Late comment
-Live/work in Cedar
-Love Coldplay & hear it at the office
-Don't like Jack Johnson, but know who he is
-Dave Matthews is okay & I hear it at the office
-Stevie Wonder is a household name
-There are no upscale restaurants in Cedar. Go to Las Vegas for that.
-My favorite food place is in the Chevron by the lighthouse, and is called "Bruno's" (I recommend meatballs, ravioli, tortelloni, bleu cheese dressing, sandwiches, mmmmm)
-Currently going into businesses and looking for someone named Stacey, the valiviktorian of the class of '89 (Does Stacey wear a lot of make-up and have very hairsprayed hair, with possibly two tones of dark color underneath and blondish on top? I very much expect that she always acrylic nails).

~j. said...

cardine - I love that your favorite food place is the Chevron. Tee hee.

Cardine said...

Yeah, it sounds pretty funny. It's not THE Chevron. It's inside the Chevron, and it's a nice little Italian place run by real and actual people from Italy!

~j. said...

A couple of Chevrons up here have a Gandolfo's deli inside, which I LOVE. The one in my neighborhood, though, recently acquired a chinese-ish fast food establishment. Gross. The place smells like a gas stove that's been left on for fifteen years.