Alaskans Are Not Like You and Me

by francine Hardaway on October 5, 2008

The son-in-law of a friend of mine tells us about his Alaska upbringing:

Where do I start? In an attempt to provide you with a flavor of my home state, I will give you several random non-sequitur observations, facts, myths, comments, statements and words of wisdom regarding Alaska. Some are hopefully funny, tragic, anecdotal and for the most part reasonably true. From this, hopefully you will better understand the complexities, perspectives and dysfunctions of our 49th state. Further you may better understand how my home state could have been the birth place of the spawn of Satan, Caribou Barbi/Sarah Palin.

* I understand that approx. 60% of Alaskans identify themselves as Independents.

* As a matter of fact, (1990) Wally Hickel threw his hat into the ring with 6 weeks remaining between and an R and D as a Independent. He won! Even though, almost everyone I knew had first hand observations of him being literally crazy.
* For example, Wally Hickel’s nephew was called out during a little baseball game. I was in attendance. In front of a crowd of at least 200 people, he walked onto the field in dispute and urinated on Home Plate. This was R. Nixon’s Sec of Interior, former/Future Governor of Alaska. Hmm……….
* IMHO, by far the biggest social issue within the state, is the Second Amendment.
* My observation is that most people that come to Alaska are running from something. Ex-wives, the IRS, Bankruptcy, etc etc.
* While much of the state is backcountry or wilderness, I was taught at a very young age to never approach any ‘Stranger’ while in the bush.
* There are many more men per capita than women. As my sister, when she was single, was fond of saying, ‘The odds are good, the goods are odd!’
* Since I have lived in the lower 48, I have never seen two grown men in a ‘Fist fight.’ While, I lived in AK, I witnessed fights at bars, restaurants, youth athletic events, parking lots, my backyard and at a girlfriend’s harp recital. Half-way through the opening night of my high-schools rendition of ‘Guys and Dolls’ there was a fight between drunk parents, school teachers, administrators , etc., that resulted in cancellation of the remaining shows. I still vividly recall my Geometry teacher in handcuffs with a bloodied nose.
* During a PTA meeting, a school principal wanted to assure the parents that there would be no messing around on his watch and that his teachers were strictly instructed to focus on the the three R’s, (Reading, righting and rithmetic) A new liberal hippie Berkley-educated teacher was summarily fired when she politely pointed out that only one of the three R’s actually started with the letter R.
* In 1982, the state legislature locked the doors of the house chambers, and physically removed the Speaker of the House. My recollection was that they duct-taped his hands and mouth. The Alaska State Troopers stormed the building. If this happened in a 3rd world country CNN would have called it a coup. It happens in AK and nobody in the lower 48 even notices.
* Alaska Permanent Dividend checks were approx. 3,500 per person this year. I believe there was another fuel cost surplus passed on to everyone for another $1500. So every man, woman and child got approx. $5000 from the govt. For example my brother, his wife and his 4 children got $25,000 from the state last year!
* What YOU would define as alcoholism is simply being an Alaskan.
* Liquor stores have drive up windows. There was NO open container law. You could freely drink and drive, you just weren’t allowed to be drunk and drive.
* When I was 13 years old, my friend I were driving his drunk/passed out dad home from a bar. We were pulled over by a Trooper. Clearly we were not old enough to be driving; neither of us had a license. The Trooper told us to be careful getting home, and let this be a good lesson learned: your dad was right to not drink and drive!
* No sales or state taxes.
* Religion, in my experience is nonexistent. Other than two people, one Catholic and one Jew, I honestly cannot tell the religion of anyone I knew/know from the state.
* Most of my peers from Alaska work for oil companies on Prudhoe Bay. The lowest pay scale on the slope is $45/hr. A typical week is 7 days/12hr shifts or factoring overtime, 105 pay hrs per week. A pump operator is probably making $75/hr or $7,500 week. Given a week on/week off schedule, he is earning approx. $200,000/year. Owns a couple of airplanes, a boat, a cabin on the lake, several snow-machines, and an arsenal of weapons. When he votes, it’s for the guy that promises to leave him alone. He drinks beer from the can, prefers his ice with whiskey, likes to kill stuff, smokes his cigarettes unfiltered, not sure there really is a cancer connection to cigarettes, would never spank a child but has no problem punching a 13-year boy in the mouth for saying the wrong thing, thinks Alaska should be its own nation, distrusts anyone with a college education, hates lawyers even though he may have never met one, and refers to current wife as his ‘Next-ex.’
* My father, president of the state’s largest bank, chairman of Anchorage’s Planning and Zoning Commission, successful land developer, member of the Board of Trustees for the Alaska Permanent Fund, donor of your grandson’s DNA, was arrested three times. Once for punching a police officer that stopped him for speeding. Once for soliciting an under-cover policewoman for prostitution ,and once for DWI. Compared to his peers or my friends’ parents, this was not strange or out of the ordinary.
* I am told by a friend who works at Alaska Airlines: The average Alaskan weighs 30lbs more than someone from the ‘Lower 48.’
* 1976, my father, Board of Trustee member for Ak’s Permanent fund, literally partially responsible for the investing Billions of $$ of public money told me, his 12 year old son who wanted to invest his first dividend check of $1000 in Microsoft, that the stock market was tantamount to playing roulette in Las Vegas. A smarter investment would be in a new Rugar 7 mm Magnum. 10 years later, my stock would have been worth in excess of $250k. I sold the gun for $300 less than I paid so I could buy groceries.
* Every election since 1980 has had on the ballot and passed, a resolution to Wash DC outlining Alaska’s desire to secede from the Union.
* Governor Sheffield used to drive around town in a pickup truck that had a bumper sticker that read: ‘Nuke the unborn gay baby whales.’
* A high school civics class of mine was present back stage during Senator Ted Stevens’ infamous speech where he told the audience, ‘To the hunters I say go hunt, to fisherman, I say go fish. To the oilmen, I say go drill. To the miners, I say go mine.’ To the every other rape and pillage special interest group he said pretty much to do your thing. ‘AND to the Environmentalists, I say go straight to hell and take those God damned Indians, Eskimos and Athabaskins with you!’ He walked off stage and in front of my entire class, said: ‘I need a bottle of whiskey and some pussy.’ Pointed at my teacher, who by the way was quite good looking and said, ‘You’ll do!’ Mind you this was the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the longest tenured Senator in US history and currently under federal indictment. The key witness for the FBI happens to be the guy who gave me my first job at VECO, Bill Allen.
* Alaska’s one and only US Congressman, Don Young, also under federal investigation, has the dubious distinction of not only being the only congressman with a college education, but also never graduated from high school.
* I believe it is the only state in which if you pass the bar exam or CPA exam you get to be a lawyer or accountant without having to go to college.
* It is one of the few places where it is common to have a metal detector at the door and people check their gun at the cloak room.
* Of the handful of influential adults from my youth, coaches, teachers, parents , etc. maybe totaling 20, two died in bush plane accidents, one got eaten by a bear, one is in Federal prison, and one froze to death after passing out in his car.
* A successful pickup line in Alaska is ‘Nice tooth!’
* It never occurred to me strange that I commonly hunted ptarmigan on my way to school in the morning and stored a .410 shotgun in my locker. ( At my son’s elementary school in Oregon, they suspended a kid for 10 days because he brought his father’s 2′ blade Swiss Army knife to school.)
* My first post-college job in Prudhoe Bay, my new boss, in an attempt at hazing the 21-yr. old Accounts Receivable accountant, pulled a pistol from his desk and told me to take it over to Dow/Schlumberger and get his friggin money from those no paying somebitches. I calmly checked the weapon, saw that it was unloaded and said, ‘You clearly must not be from Alaska, since you gave just me an unloaded gun, with instructions to use it.’ As the legend goes, he got a kick out of seeing how the typical newbie-lower 48-accountants freaked out when they saw the gun. I was quickly and meritlessly promoted above many, many,many people, all of whom were by all objective measures, smarter, more experienced, better educated and capable than me.
* It ranks at the top per capita in: murder rate, drug abuse, alcoholism, divorce, child abuse, rape et al.
I could go on and on……..

Are you sure Sarah Palin is “Joe Sixpack” like you and me?????? Does Joe know anything about where Alaska is and what it’s like?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy Vaught October 15, 2008 at 11:42 pm

I’m from Alaska. Born there. Lived many years there. And I argue against 90% of what you stated above. That’s just your politics talking, and it doesn’t look good on you.

You know better than that Francine.

Francine hardaway October 16, 2008 at 8:25 am

That’s Fred’s son in law’s impression of the Alaska he grew up in. I also have a friend working in technology there, who grew up there, and he pretty much says the same thing. It’s not unlike what Arizona was like fifty years ago. I got here forty years ago, so I’ve seen it. Should have left out that last sentence and let it speak for itself:-)

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