Sunday Column: New Yorkers in N.C.

I’ve discovered something fascinating about North Carolina six months into my new life here. When meeting people, one of the top questions I’m asked is “what state did you move here from?”
It’s an odd question if you think about it. Those who didn’t read about my background before I got here (it was printed in The Herald) just assumed I’ve come in from another state. They’re right, of course, but I could have very easily just come from another part of North Carolina.
But that’s not what people have come to expect here. According to a recent Census report, North Carolina ranked fourth in the nation in growth rate in 2000, and the numbers are continuing to climb.
What’s really funny is the reactions I get when I tell people I’m from Texas or that I just moved here from Louisiana. That statement is usually met with excitement … even a tinge of relief from some people.
It could be worse … I could be a Yankee. Or even worse than worse, I could be from New York.
I won’t use the word “hate” in this column, but North Carolinians’ uhm, dislike of New Yorkers has been a bit fascinating to me. They’re rude, I’m told. They just want to come in and change things, I’ve heard.
This dislike took on a new meaning the first time I saw a commercial for Cheerwine, a cherry-flavored soda made in North Carolina, where the fake news anchor proclaimed New Yorkers were trying to steal their soda. When the roving reporter approached a pair of Sopranos-looking guys loading up their trunk with Cheerwine, the man asked, “Where in New York are you taking this?”
“New York?” the man replied with a thick Bronx accent. “We’s from Shah-let.”
Then they stuffed the reporter in the trunk, too.
Great stuff.
Maybe there’s reason for the disdain. The Census reports that five times as many people moved from New York (the third largest state) to North Carolina (the 11th largest in 2000) than those who moved in the opposite direction.
And there are several stories out there about how parts of North Carolina can’t handle the growth. Look at Chatham County, which is getting a lot of new residents because the Triangle just keeps getting bigger. County officials there just enacted a one year moratorium on residential construction.
There are even terms for people who’ve settled in North Carolina from New York. Many are called “halfbacks,” since they moved to Florida, found it a bit too crowded and hot, then came half the way back and made their home in North Carolina, where the weather’s better and the streets aren’t as crowded … yet.
There are chatrooms dedicated to this subject, too. City-data.com, which has a forum about each city in the U.S., has pages of online chatter about North Carolinians and their attitude toward New Yorkers.
One New Yorker, named goingbackhome, wrote last September, “We have only been (in North Carolina) for four months and want out. The people are mean and rude … the summers are so hot you want to die … The cops hate New Yorkers … no one is friendly. No one! Looks nice from the outside, but beware.”
Yeow.
The chat rooms get meaner, but I actually think it’s good that the conversation is being had.
Don’t get me wrong, not all North Carolinians resent the New York influx. Many — the majority — here enjoy the different cultures, while many others are just glad that North Carolina is becoming such a popular destination.
My wife and I couldn’t be happier with our decision to move here. The weather is 10 times better than what we got in the deep south, the people are as friendly here as anywhere else we’ve ever been and if you love the outdoors, there’s no shortage of things to do in our area.
We hope to be North Carolinians for a long, long time.
That being said, for those who do resent people from the northeast, I can only say the population trend won’t stop. So get used to the “Hey you’s guys.” Stay friendly, and if they’re rude … be extra friendly.
If they make fun of the sweet tea … well, then all bets are off.
o
Billy Liggett is editor of The Sanford Herald. He can be reached by e-mail at bliggett@sanfordherald.com.

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3 thoughts on “Sunday Column: New Yorkers in N.C.

  1. I can’t believe you found a way to get “Hey you’s guys” and “We’s from Shalotte” into your column. Bummed that you left, “Hey, I’m walking here” out!

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