I find it fascinating that there is so much diversity in our country and so few people are aware of it. I’m not necessarily talking about race, religion, or politics. I speak of everyday activities, habits, and traditions, which so many of us take for granted and probably assume are shared by everyone from coast to coast.
I run across so many examples of this diversity as I have the opportunity to travel so much in our delivery of seminars and keynote presentations. Each time I return home from a trip, I seem to have acquired another unique example of this interesting diversity, and I often share my discoveries with family and friends. I’m sometimes amazed at the reactions of interest and surprise I get in sharing these findings. In fact, this morning it was suggested to me that I should share some of these situations on our blog. Therefore, from time to time, I’ll share some of the things I continually discover when I’m “ON THE ROAD AGAIN.” For instance:
You can’t pump your own gasoline in New Jersey. It’s actually against the law. The Garden State is one of only two states, the other being Oregon, where it’s illegal to fill ‘er up yourself. I, of course, learned this the hard way rushing to return my rental car to the Newark airport. As usual, I jumped out of the car and began to top off my tank when I was verbally assaulted by the gas station attendant. He acted as though he had caught me trying to take over his job. As he took control of his precious gas pump, he explained that it was actually illegal for drivers to pump their own gas and has been since 1949. Apparently, it’s been the source of some very heated debates for the last couple of decades. It certainly caught me by surprise.
Due to a previous career in radio, I learned this next tidbit many decades ago. However, I’m still astonished to discover how many people are totally unaware of this little piece of trivia. Radio stations west of the Mississippi River all begin with the letter K while those situated east of that natural boundary all begin with W. Apparently, the letters K and W originated early in the 20th century as part of a worldwide index of ship radio stations. K stood for ships on the East coast, W for ships in the Pacific. For some reason, evidently unknown, when the letters were extended to land-based stations, they were reversed, with the Mississippi River eventually adopted as the dividing line. This unusual switch took place in 1923. What I find interesting is the fact that most residents in the west naturally assume that all radio stations throughout the country begin with K while those in the east make the same assumption about the letter W.
I’ve had to deal with the many challenges of time zone changes for decades now and have mastered the majority of them. One of the few that I have yet to master is insignificant but irritating nonetheless. Living in the Midwest, I’m used to the prime-time TV schedule starting at 8 p.m., the late evening news beginning at 11 p.m., and the late night talk shows beginning at 11:35 p.m. When I travel west, prime time begins at 7 p.m., which really feels early, end-of-the-day news begins at 10 p.m., leaving you with a feeling that you’re missing an hour of prime-time, and the talk shows kick things off at 10:35 p.m. It’s interesting that wherever we happen to reside, we so often make the incorrect assumption that everyone from coast to coast plans their day around a time schedule very much like our own. Again, very insignificant but noteworthy.