On September 7, 2021, I was working as a legal asistant and legislative aide for state legislator and in this capacity I recieved texts and a call from someone who was supposedly his client. He claimed to be a schizophrenic bipolar person in the Al Canon jail on a contraband phone. It soon devolved into multiple death threats, a rape threat, and the message that he was sending a hitman “on the outside” to fuck me and my boss up. Not long later, there were bangs on the door and I hid in a closet where the seeming hitman found me and stuck his hand in the gap between the door and door frame. I found out it was my boss who then said the hitman was still in the office and I hid behind a boiler. I then was informed that this was all a prank by my boss for the purposes of schadenfreude. A few minutes later when I broke down in tears, he ordered me to stop.
That man was a member of the fraternity Omega Psi Phi, known to be the haziest fraternity in the State of South Carolina. He saw nothing wrong with doing things like sending me death threats under a pseudonym. Omega Psi Phi is the Black analog to Sigma Alpha Epsilon and is a Deep South fraternity. One of my friends who engaged in major hazing at Clemson, when asked why the more conservative and religious fraternities haze more when it is contrary to their religion when the more liberal and secular ones without an omnipotent deity commanding them otherwise haze less, he explained that the devil tests the devout more. The South is a culture where the switch, the paddle, bullying, hazing, and more are still common. They beat their children, they sadistically abuse their peers for schadenfreude, and are cruel too one another. That is not the culture shock.
The culture shock is the mass trauma had by people. I went to the College of Charleston and that institution is made of, in large part, New Englanders and other Yankees. As bad as the Deep Southerners were, they were more tolerant of my weirdness and were less afraid of things like panic and anxiety attacks. One of the reasons I got in more trouble in college than in high school is because I went to high school in a culture where almost everyone was beaten as children. I was asked by the Yankees many times why I didn’t call the police on my bullies who threw rocks at and urinated on me and while there were a number of reasons like they would counter-tattle. The fact is that it takes much more for Deep Southerners to call the police on white people. Violence and trauma is just a part of life. For the record, I don’t believe the police should be involved in things like bullying, rather softer forms of intervention including psychologists and mediators but someone from Westchester, New York would call the police on someone being urinated on while a Deep Southerner would just get up and hold the trauma in.
If they scream or panic later, people are not afraid of it. The Deep South is also, in some ways, far less segregated. It is a place where the rich and poor, the Black and white, live much closer. In the more northern parts of the country, a place like lower Manhattan and the Bronx are far enough apart, they seldom cross paths. In a place like Charleston and especially in its hinterlands, malnourished, subliterate, poverty is a pervasive fact of life everyone in the more affleunt areas interacts with and with Dickensian cruelty had by the local Republicans who decry them as lazy irresonsible freeloaders while they work sixteen hour days and do less sex and drugs than the white collar cokehead passing judgment on them.
The person who got me in the most trouble at the College of Charleston for platonic harassment after my mother and uncle died was a Republican from the deep suburbs of Providence, Rhode Island. To put it one way, she benefited from the cultural softness of bourgeois New England yankees without the compassionate values that made it culturally soft which is a cultural recipe for a morally bankrupt bimbo with high anxiety and malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder. She is what happens when liberals treat a Ayn Rand-esque Regina George like a transgender, Native American, in a wheelchair.
Metaphorically, she couldn’t shoot a light beer while I can shoot multiple shots of metaphorical whisky. The yankees whine about cyberbullying, I got physically bullied in disgustingly sadistic ways by my peers and my employer and grew up next up to third-world level poverty and coke-snorting, adulterous, Republicans who told that poverty they were hedonistic welfare queens without personal responsibility. Those same Republicans told me, as an Asperger’s kid, I needed to conform to the social norms of a society of amoral hypocrites with no qualms with regards to cruelty or aversion to cocaine.
The culture shock of the North in the South is sometimes massive levels of trauma that they don’t expect and worldview defined by witnessing Dickensian cruelty. While I am traumatized by what I have seen and experienced, I’m glad thT I have those life stories. It teaches me more about the human condition and philosophy. The degree of inhumanity and suffering has made me much more unnderstanding of people with weirdness and oddity and much kinder than otherwise I would have been. Being abreast of that degree of insane sadism was good for my soul since I am certain I am more loving and empathetic for it. Not shrinking in the face of a bipolar hobo having an eposode but shooting it like whisky is a skill I am glad to have.
One thought on “The Culture Shock They Never Mention”
Many people forget that pranks (like the one that you mentioned with the hand coming through the door) often end having people get violent or defending themselves.
(I am a bit jumpy and worry about situations like that. Not being a victim but other people getting hurt, property damage).