I didn’t know Oregonians hated Californians. I didn’t know I would get a cold snarl from the worker at the poorly lit DMV on South Liberty when I handed in my California I.D. I didn’t know the pastor of a prominent local church would poke fun at potential supporters moving north into his community in lieu of cheaper housing. And most of all, I didn’t know Salem was such a great city.
My name is Chip Conrad. I have lived everywhere. Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Texas, and even Nevada. But this last move, in which I came to Salem, was from California. After getting married this past August to a native Salemite I figured I should bring her home. I was ready for a change and I knew my wife would love to get back to her roots. After all, a happy wife a happy life, right?
We didn’t just blindly move though. I did my research first. Affordable housing, no rush hour, and no sales tax were all I needed to hear. We packed up the Neo-Uhaul, aka Budget truck, and migrated north.
Upon arrival I was stricken speechless. The weather was great. Our “cheap” rental was way nicer than the pictures on Craigslist and we happened to narrowly miss the snowstorm of the century. Needless to say my wife and could have easily been described as bright eyed and bushy tailed.
It wasn’t until I started the humbling experience of getting to know the people of Salem that I discovered a softly spoken rule: Oregonians hate Californians.
Proud of my move, I would freely tell everyone where I was from until the fact that I was not indigenous started hurting my ability to join the community. Bank tellers ignoring me, the D.M.V. skipping over my number, cops pulling me over for no reason, I quickly changed to Oregon plates and kept my mouth shut about my recent move.
Now, I have learned to blend in. Though, I am sure people can still pick me out from my straight-leg jeans or the fact that I’m pushing 40 and still ride my skateboard to the store. But it’s not like me to be quiet. I’m suggesting a Friends of Californians Alliance. Lets all just get along. Look at what we Californians have to offer. The fact that we can stay up later than 10 p.m. improves the revenue of the restaurants downtown and I think a Surf Shop on Commercial would be a hit. I’m a Californian and I’m okay with that. Can we call a truce? After all, you can’t keep Salem a secret forever. This is a great city.