Home » Uncategorized » Pres. Herzberger says: California Stereotypes — another lesson on “Thinking, Fast and Slow”

Pres. Herzberger says: California Stereotypes — another lesson on “Thinking, Fast and Slow”

A little while ago the NYTimes ran an editorial by Ruth Whippman, a self-described “transplanted Brit” who talked about differences in the pursuit of happiness among the Brits and those in the US.  She even claimed that California is the headquarters of the happy contingent.  Being a student of “Thinking, Fast and Slow” and loath to stereotype myself, I immediately recoiled.  But then I remembered back to 2005 when David and I first moved to California and people starting asking us about noticeable differences between Californians and our East Coast brethren.  My usual retort was to dismiss the stereotyping at the heart of the question and say that people are people all over the world.  But, in all honesty, I quickly developed two generalizations about Californians.  First, Californians seem much more likely to pay attention to crossing signals.  Living in New England for the previous 25 years and spending lots of time in New York, I was used to just crossing the street wherever and whenever I wanted to do so.  I have no idea whether the difference here is due to good parental training, fear of tickets or crazy drivers, or just good common sense, but I decided I needed to change my ways, be a good role model, and cross properly too.   The second difference I noticed was that Californians love their cars.  No, I am not remarking on the traffic.  You have never experienced real traffic if you have not tried to travel along the beltway around Washington, DC in rush hour or driven on the only freeway between Hartford and Boston when there is an accident halfway there.  Instead, I am referring to the fact that Californians baby their cars by cleaning them all the time.  When I first moved here, my assistant Irene Gallardo used to drop hints about keeping my car clean; occasionally she would even offer to take it to the car wash herself.  Being a New Englander for 25 years, I never washed my car.  Why bother when two days later it will rain or snow, and the car will just get muddy again.  But I can tell that I am now a true Californian; just writing about this makes me want to get out there and clean!

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