About a year and a half ago, I accepted a job at a newspaper in Kansas. I didn’t really know what to expect, and it certainly didn’t help that “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” is one of my favorite political books of all time. Upon arriving in the “Little Apple,” I wrote a post about my initial observations.
I thought it was about time to do an update. So here are my impressions of Kansas after living here for a year and a half.
6. Booze Laws Still Irritate and Confuse Me
As I mentioned previously, it was quite the shock to find out that hard liquor isn’t sold in grocery stores or gas stations, only liquor stores. It was also surprising to learn only 3.2% beer is sold in grocery stores. Also, liquor stores are only open until 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Living in Chicagoland for most of my life, I can confidently say there would be riots if they tried to pull that crap in Illinois.
It’s strange that there are all these restrictions in a state with a large population of ranchers, farmers, cowboys and good ole’ boys—guys that might like to buy a sixer Sunday night or grab a bottle of Jack at Wal-Mart—because some people in the state are still stuck in a prohibition-era mindset.
Also, Kansas liquor laws have managed to ruin one of the best things about being of age—HyVee’s liquor store. If you haven’t been, it’s like an amusement park, an amusement park full of alcohol.
It’s what Willy Wonka would have created if he had a drinking problem and wasn’t busy gallivanting in glass elevators with children and also enslaving an indigenous race of chocolate-loving dwarfs.
It’s inconvenient is what I’m saying.
Sunsets in the suburbs occasionally can be beautiful, but even if they are, they’re usually ruined by soccer moms yelling at entitled, bratty children and strip malls.
But in the Flint Hills there’s none of that—just brilliant hues and unspoilt land.
4. I Still Hate Driving in This State
My ire can be distilled down to two issues: construction and awful drivers.
During the summer, there is always roadwork. ALWAYS. Last summer, construction on I-70 turned an hour-and-a-half drive to the airport into a three-hour drive, which subsequently turned into missed flight and nerve-wracking standby seat lottery.
If that’s not enough to be pissed about, on the overpasses, the Kansas Department of Transportation posts signs with terrible poems apologizing about the construction and delays. Really!? It’s not bad enough that you’ve caused me to yell stuff at complete strangers that would make prison inmates blush? Now I have to be angry about delays and terrible writing?
I know it’s lame, but one of the best parts about visiting my parents’ house recently was driving with other people who act like they actually have places to be and things to do. I don’t know when the convention for “Kansans Who Drive Like Jerks” decided everyone has to drive exactly at or, preferably, less than the speed limit.
Also, you know you people can move into the intersection if you’re in the left-turn lane and you have a green light? That’s a thing they teach in driver’s ed here, right?
3. People are Unwaveringly Nice
Obviously, this excludes the yahoos in the Westboro Baptist Church. People here look you in the eyes and smile and are almost always chatty.
Even people who I disagree with politically (in my personal life, obviously not in my professional life because I’m objective) are usually very nice. It makes for an odd situation.
I simultaneously like them, but hate every regurgitated talking point that comes out of their mouths.
2. Even in Kansas, There Are Hipsters
I know I live in a university town, but I was not expecting so many hipsters when I moved to Kansas. Yes, there are beards, plaid, black thick-framed glasses, skinny jeans and a faux sense of intellectualism even in Kansas.
Because of this, I’m convinced that one can find hipsters literally anywhere.
1. You Can Have Fun in Kansas
Kansas often gets a bad rap for being boring (and also for those Westboro ding dongs I mentioned earlier), but imagine my surprise when I realized I was actually having some fun here.
I guess it goes to show you can find good friends anywhere.