DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Cheri-Ann in Honolulu" (Feb. 21), who wanted to remind your readers that Hawaii is indeed one of the 50 states, reflects the lack of reasonable preparation on the part of tourists.
My son lives in Hawaii and over the years we have visited him many times. The questions I have heard travelers ask flight attendants as they deplane in Honolulu run the gamut: "Where do I go to change money?" "Which side of the road do 'they' drive on?" "Is it safe here when it rains?" or "Is English widely spoken?" I think I've heard them all.
— ALOHA FROM ALICE IN BERKELEY
DEAR ALICE: Some of the letters I received in response to Cheri-Ann's were surprising — and amusing. I hope she will take comfort in knowing that Hawaii isn't the only state that has been "overlooked." Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I am from Oregon and when I would go to visit family on the East Coast, some people did not know where my state is located. When I told them it was right above California, more than a few would then exclaim, "Oh, you're from Canada!"
— DIANE IN PORTLAND
DEAR ABBY: My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Alaska. A girl on our cruise ship asked where we were from. When I replied, "Vermont," she asked what state it was in, "Maine or Massachusetts?" in answer to which I politely pointed out that Vermont is the nation's 14th state.
— ERIC IN RUTLAND, VT.
DEAR ABBY: Twenty years ago I married a Navy man. We moved from our home state to Virginia, and I was asked where I was from. I replied, "New York." I was then asked, "What's it like to live in such a big city?" "No," I responded, "I live in upstate New York. I've never been to the city." Then I was asked, "What is 'upstate'?" and had to explain that upstate means in the middle area of New York STATE, only to hear, "There's a state called New York?!"
— SANDY IN ITALY (THE COUNTRY)
DEAR ABBY: When people hear I'm from Kentucky's Appalachia region, they automatically ask if my boyfriend is also my cousin, if possum is my favorite dish and if I've ever heard of the Internet. Stereotypes still exist. Both Hawaiians and Appalachians have a long way to go before we will be accepted, in the eyes of some people, as "Americans."
— KENTUCKY NATIVE
DEAR ABBY: I work for the tourism department in New Mexico and want Cheri-Ann to know she is not alone. We frequently have to respond to questions like, "Do I need a passport or visa to visit?" or, "Can I drink the water?" We even received a letter from a wedding magazine requesting information regarding our "traditional" customs for marriage so they could run an article on our "country." And yes, you CAN drink the water here.
— MAX FROM THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO
DEAR ABBY: I once had to ask a bank teller here in Florida how much it would cost to wire money from my account to a bank in Minnesota. She said, "Minnesota? Is that in the United States?" The sad thing is this woman actually handled money and accounts. No wonder our banks have to be bailed out.
— JUDY IN NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FLA.
DEAR ABBY: People have asked me where I'm from. When I respond, "I'm from Delaware," I am then asked, "Is that a state?" To which I casually respond, "Yes. The first one." Maybe having a vice president from Delaware will finally "put us on the map."
— FIRST STATE NATIVE
DEAR NATIVE: And having a president from Hawaii may help, too.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.