July 24, 2009

Welcome to Utah?

We have encountered the weirdest phenomenon here in Utah. A rash of unfriendly, aloof, unpleasant locals.

And this is weird because Utahans have a reputation for being warm and welcoming. Inside the national parks, the employees have been just great. But outside, it's been odd. Maybe because these are small towns -- but the volume of visitors has to be really high. And it's not your typical locals hating the hands that feed them like you find in the beach towns or the ski resorts. People in those places aren't known for being friendly. Utahans are.

We have had dismissive hotel clerks and rude waitresses and candy-shop owners who clearly aren't interested in our business. Lest you think we are uptight city folk, we'll let you be the judge.

Waitress to restaurant customer: Hold on, I only have two hands! Waitress to restaurant customers who have just been seated: Are you ready yet? At another spot -- Me: Are the bagels fresh? Her: I have no idea. At the candy store: Me: Do you sell candy by the piece or only by the pound? Owner: I prefer to sell it by the pound, but I guess I could sell you a piece. At the sporting goods shop, regarding rental equipment: Unless they close the canyon, no refunds and that's just the way it is.

Some of it is the delivery. And maybe we're overly sensitive. But we're a New Yorker and a Southern Californian; we're used to brusque. This was just unfriendly.

We haven't encountered any rude tourists. And I'm guessing the behavior of the localss isn't as obvious to the hordes of Europeans visiting because it's a cultural thing, and they don't know any better.

But it's too bad -- the personal experiences have almost overwhelmed all the great things we've seen and it doesn't make me want to recommend Utah for anything other than its sights.

Having said that, if you find yourself in Springdale, Utah, in the middle of Zion National Monument, go to the Pioneer Restaurant for an awesome, well-priced steak dinner and ask for Ashley as your waitress.

And skip the candy store.

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