Adjusting to San Antonio

I remember when we first moved to San Antonio from NY in October 1993 (and on Halloween, no less! 👻) as it certainly took us a li’l while to get accustomed to our new lifestyle.

Just a li’l while, heh? 🤔

The change, however, was most certainly welcome as San Antonio wasn’t as congested…traffic was much better (or nonexistent)…stuff wasn’t nearly as expensive as your dollar went much further…& the overall “pace” was slower.

Much slower.

Ya know, when that proverbial traffic light turns green, you should already be doing about 20 MPH!

GRRRRRRRRR…

No, I’m not that bad. Really, I’m not. I just never came equipped with all the necessary patience in the world.

I drive fast. I walk fast. I tawk fast.

On second thought, I used to drive fast…used to walk fast…and with my hermitic lifestyle, I don’t even know if I talk fast anymore!

My philosophy has always been, If something can be done in 15 seconds, why take 30 to do it?

(Yes, there are several notable exceptions to the rule…

*plays Barry White music*

…but generally, that’s how I like it!)

Anyway, the slower (MUCH slower) pace, while it was somewhat frustrating for me initially, quickly became a nice, welcome change.

It did take me a while to get used to the people in San Antonio…and, yes, it took them QUITE a LOOOOONG to get used to me.

Lemme explain…

> > At least a few times every day, I would hear, “I guess you’re not from around here!”

I always tried to vary my responses so as not to get stagnated.

I started with “No, I just moved here from New York!”, but soon abandoned that as they would either get this 😱 look or would simply gawk at me like I had boogers hangin’ outta my nose.

(You’re expecting a wise-ass comment right about now, heh?)

Then I went with “Actually I’ve lived here my entire life!”. But that would lead into this whole conversation thingie & remember, I’m always in a hurry.

*thinks to self, “Shit, sometimes you really sound like such an a-hole!”*

I eventually progressed into “No shit, Sherlock!”, but I worried a bit that my sarcasm would be too offending or unrecognizable.

More than usual, that is.

I settled on “Originally from NY”, but preceded that with a “Waddaya nuts?!?” if they erroneously “accused” me of being from Boston or New Jersey.

> > I remember going to McDonalds & ordering a quarter pounder w/ cheese.

After the first few times, I learned to specify “No mustard, please!” as I would get these laser stares from the Mrs. that would burn a hole right through mi cabeza.

And then she would say, “Here, you can eat this!”, thereby forcing me to go again, but this time, for a mustard-less burger.

Pls don’t ask “Why didn’t she just wipe the mustard off?”…pls, just don’t.

> > I went to Kmart late one night, right before closing, to buy a TV. Nothing fancy, just a 25” for one of the bedrooms.

Took me about 14 nanoseconds to complete the transaction. I go buying, not shopping.

I ask if they had someone who could help me out to the car with it (as you pay first, then they bring the unit to the front of the store for you).

The nice young man offered to bring it to my car for me. I was parked right in front, maybe the 2nd car in.

He wheeled it on his dolly thingie to my car & before he took off, I went to tip him.

“Oh, no, Sir, I cant accept that!”

I looked around.

“There’s no one here. Please take it!” as I tried to stuff the bill into his hands.

Again, he refused.

I thanked him & off he went. Lemme tell ya, that never would’ve happened in NY, even if it was a capital offense to accept a tip in a Kmart parking lot.

It was a $10, in case anyone’s takin’ notes for my impending trial.

> > Took Heather to the movies one Saturday.

For the first couple of years, before I caught the golf bug pretty badly & she got to “that age”, we’d always go out on Saturdays & do something. A movie, an arcade w/ miniature golf & racing games, go-karting (her, not me), the zoo, whatever.

The first time I ever (we ever) ate sushi was at Fujiya Japanese Garden when they were on Fredericksburg Road, off Wurzbach (the building with the big triangle roof). BTW, they’ve since moved to Wurzbach, by Golden Wok, and we’ve become good friends with Junko, the owner.

*focus*

So we’re at the movies & Heather wants something to eat.

I order her a frankfurter.

“A what?”

“A frankfurter.”

“Huh?”

“A frank-fur-ter!”

“A what?”

“One of those things!”, pointing to the sign with the picture of one. The proverbial light in my head finally comes on.

“A hot dog!”

“Oh, OK!”

> Back in NY, everyone drives fast. If you didn’t, you got the dirtiest of looks, a serenade of car horns blowing &/or the infamous “table for one” hand sign.

And whenever you got any moving violation, you received “points” on your driver’s license, the amount of which depended it on the severity of the driving infraction or for speeding tickets, how many miles you were clocked over the posted limit.

Too many points within a specific timeframe & your license could be restricted, suspended or revoked.

I remember when I got my first speeding ticket in Texas.

I learned from my buddy Tom Frosina, another VP from NY who recently transferred down here, that you could actually take a 6-hour driving instruction class & have the ticket “dismissed”. You hadda pay $30 for the course, plus court fees, so it was basically about the same amount as a speeding ticket…except that nothing was entered on your record.

Not even “entered, then erased”…never entered at all!

And, on top of that, you could actually get a discount from your insurance company for taking a defensive driving course!

Man, this TX life is great!

Now, you couldn’t get another “moving violation” within 1 year of completing the course if you still wanted to go the ticket dismissal route again.

I lived in San Antonio for 13 years before relocating to Nebraska to work for Lehman Brothers.

I believe I took at least 8 or 9 defensive driving classes. Word on the street is that there may actually  be a plaque with my name on it at “Just For Laffs”, a defensive driving school whose course was taught by comedians.

I’d spend from 9:00-3:30 on a Saturday, sitting in a comfortable lounge chair, listening to some funny dude.

It was physically impossible to fail the test at the end…70% correct out of 20 questions was the minimal score to pass.

For those without slide rulers, that’s 14 out of 20.

What’s a…?

But, again, it was physically impossible to fail. The instructor would read the question, then the 4 multiple-choice answers.

“Is it A, 20 miles per hour?…B, 30 MILES PER HOUR!!!…C, 40 miles per hour…or D, 50 miles per hour?”

And the one time I got 3 tickets at the same time (entering a turning lane too soon, no insurance card, no seat belt) by the infamous Leon Valley stormtroopers, I got the insurance one dismissed when I showed my card to the court & was able to take a couple of courses to dismiss the other 2…the normal 6-hr defensive driving course for the turning lane violation & the FIRST-EVER DRIVER SAFETY COURSE GIVEN IN THE HISTORY OF THE GREAT STATE OF TEXAS for the seat belt thingie.

That second course was terrible.

6 hours in a classroom with only 3 other people…the most boring speaker in the history of mankind…and the most boring subject matter in the history of matter.

I mean, how exciting are child seats/restraints, the safety equipment on cars & the importance of wearing your seat belt?

15 mins of information spread over the longest 6 hours EVER!

But at the very least, it was a very historical & memorable occasion!

> > When John Reed (Citi CEO & Chairman) came to visit the USCC in 1994, he stopped into my Retirement Plan Services Operations area while he was on a tour of our new facility. John McEachern (USCC President) told him that I was from NY when he introduced me.

“So, Mike, how do you like it here in San Antonio? How are you adjusting to the pace & to the people here?”

“Mr. Reed, I absolutely love San Antonio & the people here! As for work, it’s still Citibank, no matter where we’re located, so the people have to adjust to me & to my pace of doing things. I only know one way!

”And they’re doing wonderfully, thank you!”

He smiled. Oh, he knew.

*wink*

On that note…

 

Thank you so very much for listening!

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