Out Of State, Out Of Mind

, | Right | July 28, 2017

(Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas are neighboring cities on the Kansas-Missouri state line. The larger of the two cities is the one on the Missouri side, but it is not uncommon for tourists to assume the airport is in Kansas. I work on the retail side of a popular chain of stores that features a restaurant in half the building and a retail store in the other half. Guests frequently ask me where they are, and at first I think this is another one of those situations. It is mid-July, and two women wearing over-sized t-shirts showing more than I wanted to see and in desperate need of a shower come through the front door and walk straight up to me. I am 17 and really have not driven much outside of my own neighborhood.)

Me: “Hello!”

Woman #1: “What state are we in?”

Me: “This is Missouri.”

Woman #2: “Oh, so we made it! Now, how much further ’till we get to Branson?”

(Branson is a small town in southern Missouri, nationally known for its theaters, go-carts, and theme parks. It is also over 200 miles southwest of Kansas City, and the traffic in the summer makes for a long drive.)

Me: “Branson is about four hours south of here.”

Woman #2: “Really? Are you sure?”

Me: “I have family near Branson. I have been to the Ozarks many times. It is a four hour drive this time of year, longer if the traffic is bad.”

Woman #2: “So, how do we get there?”

Me: “I don’t know, but I have a map behind the register.” *taking a step toward the register* “Where are you from?”

Both Women: *rather proudly* “AR-can-SAAAAW!”

Me: *thinking they were planning to visit Branson on their way back to Arkansas* “Oh? So you’re heading back toward home, then?”

Woman #1: *directs a confused look at [Woman #2]*

Woman #2: “No. We just left home this morning!”

Me: “…”

Woman #1: “We’ve been driving for six hours!”

Me: “Um… you had to drive past Branson to get here.”

Woman #1: *glaring at the other woman* “I told you it couldn’t be this far away!”

Woman #2: “Well, I thought we would see it if we just kept heading north!”

Woman #1: “Well, let’s drive south now. I’m sure we’ll find it eventually!”

(The two women turned and bounded at the front door, shouting “Thank you!” as they went. Thank you, ladies. I am sure the great states of Arkansas and Missouri are proud that you have perpetuated the stereotype of the Ozark Hillbilly.)

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