10 Things an Outsider Doesn’t Understand About Utah

I don’t typically reveal much about myself or discuss any topic other than movies, but I’d like to try something different this week.

I was raised in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. That’s a really beautiful place, and I enjoyed all the lush trees, friendly people, and easy access to the waterfront. However, when I finally grew up I met a wonderful girl from Utah and we fell in love through letters and a few brief in-person encounters. When it came time to get married, I decided to quit my job, leave most of my immediate family, and move to Utah. It wasn’t easy, but my wife was worth it and the past four years have been the happiest of my life.

Even though I’ve lived in Utah for a while now, I still consider myself an outsider in many ways. After all, I grew up in a different geographic region with a somewhat different culture. Utah has a lot of quirks that I still don’t understand as a stranger in this strange land. Here are the top 10 things that don’t make sense about people and places in the state of Utah.

1. Why do drivers cut diagonal paths through parking lots?

Almost every time I have driven through a parking lot I have noticed at least one car traveler who cuts diagonally through multiple aisles rather than simply turning onto the aisle they want to go down and staying on it. This is really dangerous. I’m glad I haven’t seen anyone cause an accident by doing it, but I don’t understand why people take that risk when it’s so easily avoided.

2. Why is there a South Jordan and a West Jordan but not a North Jordan or East Jordan?

Why is West Jordan directly north of South Jordan?North Dakota and South Dakota make sense to me. If, however, they were called South Dakota and West Dakota, that would be silly because those aren’t opposites. If you’re going to put a direction in front of a place, you better have a good reason for it. It just seems so arbitrary to call two cities South Jordan and West Jordan without taking the next logical step and either adding North and East Jordans or renaming West Jordan North Jordan because it’s north, not west, of South Jordan.

3. Why do you have tanning salons when you live in a desert?

There are a bunch of tanning salons in the Puget Sound because, well, it’s frequently cloudy there. I never used them myself, but a lot of other people who cared about their skin color did. Imagine my surprise when I come to Utah, one of the sunniest states in the country, and I find a bunch of tanning salons. What gives? Maybe people are modest and don’t want to tan on beaches or in their own backyards, but come on. How many people are foolish enough to pay for something that is freely available to them for most of the spring, summer, and fall?

4. Why are your thrift stores so clean?

This is a thrift store. Deseret Industries feels like a department store.In Washington, every Salvation Army, Ross, and other kind of thrift store feels drab and uninviting. They know they’re selling inferior products, and they don’t let you forget it the whole time you’re in their store. But in Utah they have something called Deseret Industries, which sells pretty much the same stuff as Salvation Army, except it dresses it up so nicely you’d almost think you’re in a department store. Clothes are well-organized on hangers, movies and books are neatly placed on shelves, and the whole atmosphere is cheerful and upbeat. It’s like they want me to have a pleasant time, even if I don’t find what I’m looking for. Very weird, if you ask me.

5. Why do so many houses not have garages?

Where I’m from, you’re crazy not to have a garage to store your car in. It rains frequently and if you don’t have any protection, it starts to wear on a car over time. Utah doesn’t have that exact problem, but its intense heat and bitter cold can be just as bad for vehicles. So why is it that so many houses in Utah don’t have garages or even car ports? Many of the houses in the old parts of Provo, Orem, American Fork, Lehi, and other cities were built from the 1940s to the 1970s, and maybe builders used cheaper construction back then. But seriously, who wants to buy a house with nothing to cover their car?

6. Why is there a town called Hurricane that is pronounced like shuriken?

Hurricane, Utah would be infinitely cooler if its name was Glaive.Waaaaay down south near St. George is a little city called Hurricane. First of all, why would anyone name a city after a natural disaster, and second of all, why would anyone pronounce it incorrectly? It’s a double-whammy. At least in Washington we celebrate the silliness of our cities’ names, like Walla Walla, and Yakima, without resorting to pronouncing them in ridiculous ways. Unless, of course, you live in Puyallup.

7. Why is there a county called Utah?

Laziness, thy name is Utah County. I don’t know of any other county in the country that has the same name as the state it is in. How uninventive do you have to be to just throw up your hands when trying to name your county and say, “I like the name of our state. Let’s go with that. Whew, that was easy!” Salt Lake County isn’t much better, by the way. I grew up in King County, Washington. I now live in Utah County, Utah. That’s kind of a downgrade in terms of originality. When I write where I live on forms, I sometimes feel like I’m speaking in Tweety Bird’s voice: “Utah, Utah a puddy tat?”

8. Why is Utah Lake so useless?

If you try to swim across Utah Lake and you get tired, you can just walk for a while.Speaking of lame names, who decided to name the worst lake in the state after the state!? For heaven’s sake, Utah Lake is just 14 feet deep at its maximum depth. You can barely put a fishing boat in that thing without it bottoming out in places. By way of comparison, a tiny lake I grew up near, called Pine Lake, has a maximum depth of 39 feet, and it’s only 88 acres in surface area, compared to Utah Lake’s massive 95,000 acres. Utah Lake should just be called a glorified swamp. If all of this isn’t bad enough, it’s full of bottom-feeding fish – like carp and catfish – that stir up the mud and give the lake a nice brown sheen. Seriously, guys, pick a better lake to be your state’s namesake. This is just embarrassing.

9. Why do people eat fry sauce?

This is purely personal preference, but I have never enjoyed mayonnaise. It’s fattening and offers no real benefit to a sandwich-eating experience, except for pre-moistening the bread before it hits your mouth. For reasons I’ll never understand, someone in Utah had the brilliant idea to combine this non-food item with something that actually tastes good, like ketchup, and people went crazy for it. Ketchup and mayo are no peanut butter and jelly. Mixing them together isn’t appetizing at all to me. Could someone please explain why dipping your fries in this so-called fry sauce is an appealing idea?

10. Why are products for sell, not sale?

Is it really that hard to spell "school" or say "sale" correctly?Oh, people sound ignorant when they slur their words. I hear oddly pronounced words from time to time out of Utahans’ mouths, but rarely do I hear something that makes me feel dumber for having heard it. “Sell” is one of those words. “Hey, is that truck for sell?” My goodness, man. It’s “sale,” not “sell.” Sell is a verb while sale is a noun. Big difference. Didn’t yer teacher learn you that in shcool?

I hope you enjoyed my fun little rant. Next week I’ll return to reviewing movies with an epic Lord of the Rings Movie Matchup.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

All images are the copyright of their respective owners.

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About Robert Lockard, the Deja Reviewer

Robert Lockard has been a lover of writing since he was very young. He studied public relations in college, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006. His skills and knowledge have helped him to become a sought-after copywriter in the business world. He has written blogs, articles, and Web content on subjects such as real estate, online marketing and inventory management. His talent for making even boring topics interesting to read about has come in handy. But what he really loves to write about is movies. His favorite movies include: Fiddler on the Roof, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight. Check out his website: Deja Reviewer. Robert lives in Utah with his wife and three children. He loves running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.
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