An Outsider’s Guide to Texas Culture

If you’re from somewhere else, particularly west of El Paso or north of the Mason-Dixon Line, you may have noticed that Texans are a bit unique.  We’ve got our own culture.  Our Southern neighbors understand and take it for granted, as there are enough similarities to keep cultural confrontations to a minimum.  As for the rest of you, whether you’re visiting, have moved to Texas because of our awesome scenery, great economy, and affordable housing, or whether you’re trying to figure out the Texan who just moved into your neighborhood, here’s a handy guide to a few cultural distinctions you can expect.

Texans are proud of Texas.  We like where we’re from, and we know our state.  We take Texas history in junior high school, where we learn about how Texas was under six different nations during its history and about how Texas was once its own country.  We learn about heroes like William Travis and Sam Houston, and about the Alamo and San Jacinto.  Many of us know our family histories as well, know when our family came to Texas, and how our family fits into the stories of Texas history.

Texans are generally friendly.  In small town Texas, everybody waves at everybody, even when we’re driving.  Even in the big cities, you’ll hear plenty of “yes ma’am” and “yes sir”, and a man is expected to hold the door for ladies and older folks.  We may offer to help you, even if we don’t know you.  When we move to your state, we bring these habits with us.

Texans are not all “hicks” and “cowboys” and we don’t generally ride a horse to work.  Now don’t get me wrong, being a cowboy or working on a ranch is still a legitimate job, and in some towns you can indeed ride a horse through a Sonic drive through.  At the same time, Texas has some world-class research universities and has more than a million college graduates.  Please don’t assume we’re ignorant.

Texans drink distinctively.  If you order tea, expect it to be iced, and expect to answer “sweet or unsweet.”  If you want a soft drink, order it by name.  If you say you want a “coke”, we may ask you “what kind.”  Coke in Texas is like Kleenex: the one word covers all the brands.  Shiner Bock and Lone Star beers are made in Texas, and we like them.

Texans have guns.  In some states, one gun is too many and two is a “gun collection.”  In Texas, a gun is a tool.  It may be a tool for self defense, a tool for hunting birds or deer, or sometimes just to shoot for fun.  You’d not make fun of a guy’s tool collection, so don’t poke fun at the number of tools we have just because you don’t understand why we need them.  Many of us grew up hunting and shooting.  We’ve got fond memories of those times, and we value the tools we used.  It’s not uncommon for children to get a BB gun in early elementary school and to be shooting a .22 before junior high.  We’re not gun-crazy, but we respect and love the tools we use.

Texans are independent-minded.  We’ll listen to what you think, but we’ll make up our own mind.  We expect to have to solve our own problems, and we expect you to try to solve your own problems as well.  We expect no help, but we’ll offer to help and accept help when you offer.  We’re confident in ourselves, and have no expectation that your way will be better. It’s not arrogance, it’s experience: our pragmatism has served us well in the past.  Politically, we resent the influence of other states on our politics.  We don’t want Washington DC, New York, or California telling us what’s best for Texans.  Texas political independence is valued by many Texans, and many of us want a chance to make our voice heard when it comes to Texas’ future.

Welcome your Texas neighbors.  When you come to Texas, respect our values and you’ll be welcome here as well.

  • Darkmans_Shadow1

    I have to agree wholeheartedly. I moved to Texas 40 yrs ago. When I talked to or received letters from friends of mine in other places, many times I would be asked if everybody rode horses. I told them that no not everybody does, the roads are paved, not dirt for the most part and just about everyone drives a car or a P/U Truck. Additionally folks elsewhere do not understand how big Texas really is. At least not until they visit. In Va where I am from if you drive 3 hours in any direction you can be in or have passed through 3 to 4 different additional states, unlike driving 3 hours in any direction here and still be in Texas, depending upon where you actually started from. The DFW Metroplex encompasses the area that is covered by the entire state of Connecticut. And that is just one Metropolitan area the size of another whole state.
    Yeah, we don’t like to be told how you do things where you come from. Mostly because the way it has been done there is usually the reason you have left there and come here to get away from your screwed up state. If the way it was done there was so wonderful, you would still be there and not have come here to find a better job, work environment, natural environment, less expensive way of life, etc.
    Yeah, the weather is hot here during the summer. Get used to it. But remember if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute. We can have snow in the panhandle, rain in the DFW area, sunshine and 90 degrees F in the Valley all on the same day. In addition to which we can have the heat on at dawn, but the A/C on by sunset on the same day, wearing an over coat to start the day to a bikini bathing suit (on our ladies) by the end of the day, without even leaving home.

    Oh yes on another note, if you don’t like guns, don’t buy one. But don’t look cross eyed at you neighbor is he open carries his long gun. Get used to it. Be glad that he is armed, it may come in handy to save you some day. Remember, Texans own guns, many many of us carry concealed and a number of us carry openly. Our gun laws are different from those in other states who think that no one is competent to own a gun, much less carry one concealed or otherwise. As noted in the article we hunt and shoot, many having grown up hunting and shooting since they were mere children. And yes many of our children have their own rifle or shotgun. And they know how to use it. Safely. As do a vast number of the ladies. Believe me you do not want to torque off an armed female as it is possible that the one you torque off is in fact armed to the teeth. You will not be happy.