When I told a friend I was going to Salt Lake City to cover the Olympics, she told me a friend of hers had raved about the place: “He just feels so cool when he goes there.”
Sure, Utah shows up on no one’s list of the world’s hippest places. The state’s boundaries may not form a perfect square, but its reputation does.
This is a place whose local foods can be roughly divided into the mayonnaise-based, the corn flake-based and the Jell-O-based. A place where, for a significant chunk of the population, a cup of coffee is considered out of line.
Still, it could be argued the state gets a bad rap, and considering the international spotlight on them, Utahns could be forgiven if they tried to spice things up. To their credit, they haven’t. They seem to have decided that being steadily boring is the best way to show off.
Journalists are always quick to write about things that degrade the quality of their experiences, but so far Salt Lake has given them no material to work with. The easiest way to make us write nasty stories is to screw up the transportation grid.
And the thousands of volunteers have dealt with us clueless outsiders with a smile we don’t deserve instead of the derisive sneers we probably do.
It’s still early. Those buses could start stranding writers at faraway mountain venues, and by Day 12 or so, that’ll probably seem like an interesting story to some of them. Those volunteers could drop the niceness schtick at any moment.
But until then, a pleasant, unobtrusive dullness is as much gospel as the Book of Mormon.