EXIT STRATEGY: Welcome, Stranger — here are the rules for your new Colorado home

Just because we have legal weed here, it doesn’t mean you should be smoking it all the time. You know who you are. Rather than screaming through traffic on I-225, you’re on Chambers Road in the right lane, white knuckled and driving 22 miles per hour. You’re the one who comes to a complete stop in Havana Street during rush hour traffic and looks both ways before turning right into the Safeway. It’s dope, dude. Smoke it at home.

Welcome to Colorado. There are some things you need to know.
If you’re one of the approximately half-a-million people who’ve flocked to the Centennial State during the past five years, allow me to explain what’s what for you. If you know someone who’s come in with the recent herd, pass this on.

Most important, smile.

What happened to so many of you in the places you came from that you’re all so dour and miserable? I understand that we quit tossing “howdy” around the state after the last rush of California immigrants came through here in the 1970s. I don’t want every stranger to rush up and water-pump my arm off when we walk by each other in the Home Depot parking lot. But for chrissake, people, lighten up. You made it to the promised land. Act like it. Did your mamas not teach you to make eye contact with people and nod or smile or at least refrain from acting like you have an alien inside your skull, propelling your body forward with nothing left of your mind and soul other than your ability to look vacantly ahead or at your phone?

Second, what is up with your driving? You can’t possibly convince me that somebody taught you to drive like an idiot. How and why did you figure that out for yourself? Why do so many of you keep weaving through gridlocked traffic, into medians and interstate shoulders, up the butt of one car and then another? Where in the hell are you driving to that way that you think justifies risking your life and that of everyone around you? Being the colossal ass hat that you are, I know you can’t possibly have any friends just dying for your company. I can’t imagine any important or significant job that would hire someone like you and be so desperate to get you to work that they command you get here “as fast as you can” and spare no lives. Do you have to go to the bathroom? That fiery green salsa from Taco Tuesday just too much for you? Slow. Your. Ass. Down. I regularly drive way over the speed limit. If you’re flying by me, you’re about to become “that guy,” or “that lady,” who adds one to the number on the lighted interstate sign detailing how many have been killed so far this year on Colorado roads. You, you little jerk, are going to be No. 351 if you don’t knock it off.

Thirdly, just because we have legal weed here, it doesn’t mean you should be smoking it all the time. You know who you are. Rather than screaming through traffic on I-225, you’re on Chambers Road in the right lane, white knuckled and driving 22 miles per hour. You’re the one who comes to a complete stop on Havana Street during rush hour traffic and looks both ways before turning right into the Safeway. It’s dope, dude. Smoke it at home. Smoke it on a hike, at the lake. In front of the TV or in the bathroom at work. But don’t get ripped and drive to the store for ice cream and Fritos. Out here, we snag our munchies before the urge makes you do dumb things.

Fourth, everybody is welcome here, and if you’ve got a problem with that, stay home. Colorado was originally home to a variety of native tribes and cultures. Eventually the Spanish-Mexicans laid claim to the region, hence, all the funny street and town names. Since then, it’s been a land rush, then a gold rush, an oil rush, then a demand rush by people from all over the planet. If mingling with folks who don’t look like you is a problem, there are numerous work-at-home, shop-at-home, don’t-ever-leave-your-home options available, and Wyoming is just an hour away.

Fifth, everybody in Colorado is an environmentalist except for you. From the day we’re born here, we get it that our work lives, our play lives and our future lives depend on respecting the land and the life upon it. Some of the most ardent environmentalists I’ve ever known are avid hunters and anglers, deep-rooted Republicans who couldn’t say enough good about Goldwater and abolishing the income tax. But, by God, they know that the delicate balance among plant and animal species is something to cherish and protect. We’ve seen what y’all have done Back East, in the South, across California and the Texas wasteland. Nope. We’re a state of proud miners and oilmen, but we learned the hard way long ago and now know enough to clean up our mess, pick up our trash and guard our precious wilderness areas as if they was our very own land, because they are. We don’t look at green energy and saving cutthroat trout as a liberal thing or a conservative thing. It’s a sensible, business thing, and we mean business.

Finally, nobody cares that you think you can’t get a “decent” pizza, bagel, biscuit, BBQ, hot dog, or milk shake “out here.” We know where they are, and if you smile and ask nicely, we’ll tell you.

And looking for a decent pain au chocolat, I’m outta here.

Dave Perry is editor of the Aurora Sentinel and Aurora magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook at @EditorDavePerry.