Never Ask What a Humboldter Does for a Living and Other Unique Etiquette Rules

 

The ways of Humboldt startle and amuse outsiders.  Lisa Morehouse, my co-reporter for our recent story for The California Report explained:

As an outsider reporting in and around Garberville, I learned there’s a special brand of etiquette in a place where pot dominates the economy and culture. People don’t ask each other what they do for a living. They don’t insist on learning folks’ last names. They don’t look as the person in front of them pays for groceries with a wad of cash.

Then there are practicalities that differ from much of the rest of the state, too. When I visited farmers during the harvest, I wasn’t greeted with handshakes — their fingers were too sticky for that. I got hugs, with hands outstretched at 90-degree angles to keep the marijuana resin off of my clothes. It’s such a cash economy, many local businesses don’t take anything but (and this city mouse has to run repeatedly to ATMs).

Marijuana touches everything here. In hotel parking lots, its smell emanates from car trunks. Turkey roasting bags (popular for storing harvested pot) fly off grocery store shelves, and are even sold in unexpected locations, like the record shop. During fall harvest season, traveling trimmers-for-hire stand on the side of the road holding cardboard signs advertising their availability.

For more of her impressions go here.

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12 comments

  • K at the bookstore

    The most interesting “you don’t ask what people do for a living” experience I’ve had involved a fellow writer who was going to be reading poetry with me up north and who had agreed to give me a ride to the rehearsals and the actual reading. He said his job involved a lot of driving, and he thought about his writing while he drove, pulling over now and then to jot something down. I tactfully did not ask what this job was, though I was speculating on runs to the city with stashes of illegal herb.
    Only later did I learn the truth.
    The very attractive poet and novelist was a CHP officer.

  • K at the bookstore

    The most interesting “you don’t ask what people do for a living” experience I’ve had involved a fellow writer who was going to be reading poetry with me up north and who had agreed to give me a ride to the rehearsals and the actual reading. He said his job involved a lot of driving, and he thought about his writing while he drove, pulling over now and then to jot something down. I tactfully did not ask what this job was, though I was speculating on runs to the city with stashes of illegal herb.
    Only later did I learn the truth.
    The very attractive poet and novelist was a CHP officer.

  • K At The Bookstore,

    I laughed out loud at your story. I could see that happening to me.

  • K At The Bookstore,

    I laughed out loud at your story. I could see that happening to me.

  • Me too. Cops are so insensitive . . .

  • Me too. Cops are so insensitive . . .

  • Not exactly etiquette, but don’t go into a grocery or liquor store on a Sunday to buy the Chron or TS and ask where “the papers” are … unless you want to be guided to the Zigzag display.

  • Not exactly etiquette, but don’t go into a grocery or liquor store on a Sunday to buy the Chron or TS and ask where “the papers” are … unless you want to be guided to the Zigzag display.

  • As an outsider reporting in and around Garberville, I learned there’s a special brand of etiquette in a place where pot dominates the economy and culture. People don’t ask each other what they do for a living.

    Naw naw, I’m an independent, cash-only, consultant/contractor. You need what done? Oh. Sorry, I’m not taking new clients.

    They don’t insist on learning folks’ last names.

    Or first names.

    They don’t look as the person in front of them pays for groceries with a wad of cash.

    Although they do smell the cash when counting later if it has a particularly floral bouquet.

  • As an outsider reporting in and around Garberville, I learned there’s a special brand of etiquette in a place where pot dominates the economy and culture. People don’t ask each other what they do for a living.

    Naw naw, I’m an independent, cash-only, consultant/contractor. You need what done? Oh. Sorry, I’m not taking new clients.

    They don’t insist on learning folks’ last names.

    Or first names.

    They don’t look as the person in front of them pays for groceries with a wad of cash.

    Although they do smell the cash when counting later if it has a particularly floral bouquet.

  • Now I wish the dope yuppies would learn how to treat the rest of us respectfully. If anyone in So-Hum asks you if you own land, ask them what they do for a living. Remind them what a horrible crime prohibition is. Then let them know that you don’t think its very cool to profit from it, and that high pot prices are just another way for land-owners to exploit the landless. Not that these people care about how much damage they do to society, but they don’t like being embarrassed in public.
    Garberville might be known as a great small art town, if the dope yuppies would shut up about all of their money. Instead, we are overrun with scumbag criminals who want us to believe they are somehow virtuous, just because they have money. If you want to know how So-Humers treat the less fortunate, remember that a homeless man was beaten to death in his sleeping bag in Redway, by a group of local teens. At least four people around So-Hum have disappeared without a trace since I’ve been here, probably victims of drug-related violence. The violent drug-criminals who “disappeared” them, probably still live in the area. That’s really the reason to be careful about what you say to these people.

  • Now I wish the dope yuppies would learn how to treat the rest of us respectfully. If anyone in So-Hum asks you if you own land, ask them what they do for a living. Remind them what a horrible crime prohibition is. Then let them know that you don’t think its very cool to profit from it, and that high pot prices are just another way for land-owners to exploit the landless. Not that these people care about how much damage they do to society, but they don’t like being embarrassed in public.
    Garberville might be known as a great small art town, if the dope yuppies would shut up about all of their money. Instead, we are overrun with scumbag criminals who want us to believe they are somehow virtuous, just because they have money. If you want to know how So-Humers treat the less fortunate, remember that a homeless man was beaten to death in his sleeping bag in Redway, by a group of local teens. At least four people around So-Hum have disappeared without a trace since I’ve been here, probably victims of drug-related violence. The violent drug-criminals who “disappeared” them, probably still live in the area. That’s really the reason to be careful about what you say to these people.

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