Having a ‘nice life’ in California
I’m asking for a little patience here. As most of you recall, I’ve spent the last several years in Nevada, and it’s going to take a bit for me to get my California legs back.
And the last thing I want this to become is a “when-I-was-back-in-Nevada” diatribe. I hate it when people do that.
But they don’t prepare you for this transition at the Bug Station on the California/Nevada border near Truckee.
“Where are you coming from?” the Bug Station guard asked on my way here from Nevada.
This is where I generally like to have a little fun, so I rolled my window down further and whispered, “Beirut.”
“Do you have any fruit or vegetables in the car?” the Bug Station guard wondered, dismissing my previous response.
“No,” I answered. “Just a few rocket launchers and a tuna sandwich.”
“Have a nice day,” the Bug Station Guard advised, waving me on my way up Donner Summit.
Nevada doesn’t care if you bring bugs in, so long as you have a good line of credit with the casino cashier.
The thing you notice about Interstate 80 between Reno and Truckee is that you know immediately when you have left Nevada and arrived in California. Your teeth start to rattle. It makes you REALLY appreciate gaming taxes. There was a standing joke in Nevada that went something like:
“What’s orange and sleeps eight?”
“A Caltrans truck.”
Not that I think that’s funny, mind you. Some of my best friends sleep in orange trucks.
The differences between the Golden and Silver states don’t stop at pot holes, however.
Take tobacco, for instance. In Nevada, nonsmokers in restaurants get a choice of two tables, generally located near the restroom.
“Will that be smoking or nonsmoking?” the hostess asks, smiling as the nonfiltered Camel droops from her ruby-red lips.
“How are the cigarettes tonight?” I ask. “Are they fresh?”
She doesn’t reply, but turns on her heels and leads the way to the corner near the restroom, where a sign reads: “No Smoking Section.”
The toilet flushes, and a fellow walks out dragging 15 feet of tissue tucked inside his trousers.
In California everyone wants you to have “a nice day.”
In Nevada they simply want you to have “good luck.”
“Yeah. Can you tell me where the restroom is?” you ask a change lady on the casino floor. They hide restrooms in casinos because they want you playing and not peeing, and we all know about the power of suggestion.
“You bet,” the change lady answers. “It’s down that hallway, past the lion cage, turn left toward the keno machine and down the elevator past the pirate ship. Good luck.”
State lawmakers in Nevada are only permitted to meet every other year and only for 120 days. At midnight on the 120th day, they are unceremoniously kicked out of town.
Lawmakers in California, as you know, meet 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year, and are required to create 2,698 new laws per minute.
The only time Californians aren’t regulated is … well … come to think of it … there really is no time they’re not regulated.
For the record, I prefer the Nevada system. In fact, I’d feel very comfortable if state lawmakers met every 120 years for two days.
When they do meet, Nevada lawmakers like to go on “fact-finding” tours of legal local brothels. They canceled a tour once after I reminded them that they probably wouldn’t find many more facts than their parents told them about when they were first exploring facts.
The politicians got mad at me for suggesting they would even consider a junket to a whorehouse for anything less than honorable reasons.
The prostitutes got mad at me for comparing them to politicians.
It was a classic Nevada standoff.
There are differences in environmental issues, as well. Californians, for example, are worried about the fate of the endangered raptor.
Nevadans are more concerned about nuclear radiation. They’ve been nuking Nevada for years, and now the federal government wants to start dumping the nation’s nuclear waste in a hole in southern Nevada, scientifically concluding that it can’t be any worse than the radiation from slot machine lights.
Californians ought to remember how close Nevada is and how bad nuclear radiation can be on top of a sun tan.
It won’t take long for it all to come back to me, though. Just this morning I advised someone to “have a nice day” and enjoyed a delicious vegetarian lunch. I start my yoga classes tomorrow.
Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays.
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