Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Howdy from Dallas

Blogging today from Dallas.  I'm going to try to blog about travel on Tuesdays, so this works.

Texas is just so darn big.  Lyle Lovett has a terrific song, "That's Right," in which he tells someone not from Texas that it's okay, you can be a Texan, because "Texas wants you anyway."  And it's true.  Everyone I talked to just loves Texas, and they wanted me to love it, too.

I spent the larger part of yesterday shopping.  I visited the Galleria, where I found exactly the same stores that we have in Atlanta.  *yawn*  The Galleria is immense, and it does have an ice skating rink.  I guess I wasn't in the right mood, because I left after about an hour of strolling around and never even got motivated to try on a pair of shoes or some jeans.

I had better luck when I headed down to McKinney Street, in what I think is the "Uptown" neighborhood. One great store was all it took:  Cowboy Cool.  I only bought a belt but also had a great conversation with the owner and staff.  And that is really the point of this post.

Dallas is booming.  It's obvious by the low vacancy rate you see when driving around a shopping district, by the few houses you'll see for sale, and the vibrant restaurant scene.  Not like Atlanta at all.  So when the friendly Cowboy Cool staff asked me where I was from, we launched into a comparison of Dallas and Atlanta.  Georgia's unemployment and foreclosure rates are quite high compared to the national average; Texas' rates are much lower.  The owner said that things were a little tighter this year than last, but really they were doing just fine.  Where last year a customer might have bought TWO pairs of custom-made boots, this year they'd buy just one pair, but they were still buying.

A friend of the owner's had relocated in the last year or so to Atlanta, from a position at the Mansion on Turtle Creek to a similar position at a new property in Atlanta.  The friend is now trying "everything" to get back to Dallas.  Seems the economy in Atlanta isn't supporting the new property.  More than that, though, the friend's experience of Atlanta was that so much of life revolved around race.  The city "too busy to hate" apparently is not too busy to keep careful track of what is fair and what isn't.  Much of this person's professional experience in Atlanta was taken up with placating employees, showing fairness and  dealing with hurt feelings and worse.

Now, this is one person's experience, related to me third-hand.  But this is how a reputation grows.  Why would any company want to locate to a city where they automatically have to prove their good intentions, where a large part of the population is looking for resolutions to grievances, real OR perceived?  Now, I also don't know the state of relations here in Dallas.  But these people were plainly shocked that it "really is like that" in Atlanta, and it was obvious that the level of racial tension--yes, tension, much more than mere awareness--was remarkable to a Dallas transplant.

I wanted to post about this because it was striking--these new acquaintances were looking for verification that the atmosphere in Atlanta "really is like that."  And I had to agree that it is, because even the recent mayoral election bears that out.  While we don't see it out in the suburbs as much, Atlanta spends so much time worrying about black versus white.  It is sad to see a city that helped give birth to the civil rights movement be unable to move beyond it.  I wonder if Atlanta will ever move on.

Well, that was kind of a downer.  So now I'm off to check out Highland Park, GWB's neighborhood, and then I think it'll be time to head home.  One last day to pretend to be a Texan: big hair and big wallet.  At least the hair.

No comments: