Virginia may be the best place to live…anywhere. But there are a few things you’re going to want to avoid doing or saying. It’s for your own good, I promise. Consider this your cheat sheet for a long and happy life here in our lovely Commonwealth…I mean, state…I mean, Commonwealth. Oh whatever…just read on.
For all you out-of-towners, newbies or returning Virginians who may have forgotten the ground rules, here are a few tips on things to avoid…
1. Interstates ending in “95” on a Friday…or any morning, afternoon or weekend.
I-95, I-495 and I-395 – and we might as well thrown in I-66 for good measure.
2. The same goes for I-81.
Heavy traffic and tractor-trailers that go very fast. What’s not to love?
3. Tyson’s Corner Malls during the holidays.
Between the Tyson’s Corner Center Mall and Galleria, there are enough top o’ the line shops, departments stores and restaurants to keep even the “Real Housewives” happy. But trying to fight those crowds or find parking during peak shopping times? No, thanks. My Amazon Prime subscription is an investment well worth the money.
4. Cursing in Virginia Beach.
If you stub your toe on the Virginia Beach boardwalk, you’d better have some family-friendly words handy, because saying the real thing could land you with a ticket. In 2014 alone, 25 people were charged with public profanity – resulting in $6,250 in cursing fines alone. That’s a pretty $^% high price to pay for profanity.
5. Mentioning politics…ever. Unless you’re a politician and even then you should be careful.
Virginians looove their politics and tend to be passionate. So unless you’re ready for an ultimate-fighting-style verbal cage match, tread lightly here.
6. Going to the grocery store before a snow storm/hurricane.
Our shops looks like the set of Walking Dead right before bad weather hits. An apocalyptic last run for milk, bread and water makes for empty shelves, homicidal shoppers and long lines. It’s better to keep a bomb shelter stockpile year-round. Just saying.
7. Implying that Virginia is the same as West Virginia.
No offense to our western neighbors, but it is most certainly NOT the same. [Insert your favorite West Virginia joke here, but know they’ve got a few on us, too.]
8. Speeding – especially in a small town.
I understand the purpose of speed limits, especially in a small town. But don’t be surprised if the speed limit suddenly drops from 55mph to 25mph in a matter of yards and a radar gun-wielding cop is waiting for you just past the sign. They have a job to do – even if they seem to enjoy it way too much.
9. Mispronouncing town names.
I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m just saying don’t do it. “When in Rome”, people. Even if that means you have to practice ahead of time, better to get it right then incur the derision and wrath of the locals. That is, unless of course, you’re ok with having “out-of-towner” tattooed on your forehead.
10. Implying that the Pilgrims had the first Thanksgiving.
Nope. School kids around the country can make all of the construction paper Pilgrim hats they want, but it doesn’t change the fact that we beat the men in black by 2 years. The REAL first Thanksgiving was at Berkeley Plantation in 1619.
11. Busch Gardens during fieldtrip season.
What absolute, and apparently genetically passed, lapse in judgment has caused teachers and school staff to take dozens of elementary and middle school kids to Busch Gardens for generations now? I suppose some people just have more patience than others – or the herding skills of a sheepdog.
12. Road Construction….oh wait…that can’t be avoided. Sorry.
13. Trying to decipher personalized license plates while driving.
It’s like texting and driving. Virginia has the highest percentage of personalized plates in the country – and we’re clever about putting our coded messages within the 7-character limit. But trying to figure them out in traffic? It’s an accident waiting to happen.
14. Deer in Love.
Fall is breeding season and deer get sassy. They’re everywhere and they’re not looking where they’re going when it comes to roads. Just imagine trying to drive down the halls of a middle school. It’s pretty much the same thing.
15. Planning any event in the spring…unless you have 3 changes of clothes.
Spring is one of the most beautiful seasons in Virginia – no doubt about it. But she’s a fickle one. It’s hot. It’s cold. It’s sunny. It’s rainy. So unless your sundress converts to a snowsuit or your entire wardrobe is waterproof, you’re going to want to have a back up plan.
16. Engaging in the Commonwealth vs. State debate
You're going to get slammed either way. We are a commonwealth, meaning that we have a government based on common consent, as well as having independent cities – but it doesn’t have any real legal implication. We received our statehood in 1788 and “The Commonwealth of Virginia” is part of our state name. I know it’s confusing. The terms can be used interchangeably, unless you’re in front of someone who disagrees with you. In which case, your best bet is to just nod and smile.
17. Making fun of Virginia. In any way. Ever. (Unless you’re from Virginia, of course.)
We love to make fun of ourselves, but no one else can. It’s kind of like when someone else picked on your little brother. You could give him wedgies all day, but let someone else mess with him? Then it’s game on.
Now that you have the basics, let us know what your tips are for keeping the peace and making the most of all that is Virginia!