Who was gracious enough to sit down with me for 10 minutes, after I paid their $600 toll road fee.
When I went to interview Delaware, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After all, not many people have the opportunity to see the corporeal manifestation of a geopolitical polity.
Delaware walked into the Peets Coffee at its House Travel Plaza off I-95 with confident strides. I was surprised by their stature — for the 49th-smallest state by square miles with a population of less than 1 million people, Delaware stood a solid 5 foot 9 inches. Overall, they looked really good someone who’s 232 years old.
I reach out my hand — the state has a firm, if clammy, handshake. “Delaware? Hi, great to meet you in person. Thanks for joining me today!”
Delaware: “Glad to be here. What route did you take to get here?”
Me: “95 North.”
Delaware gives a small smile, almost a smirk. I wonder if it has anything to do with the $30 in tolls that I had to pay to get here.
Me: Alright, let’s get started — I know you’re a busy state. Tell me about why you’re proud of your state.
Delaware settles in, hands clasped in front of them. “Well, we are The First State, honey. That comes with a certain…status, if you will. We were the first state of our great nation. And we’ve continued to thrive since then. Did you know that 64% of all Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware?
Me: Interesting. I did hear about that when I was preparing for this interview. Why do you think you have so many corporations, considering that you have just 900,000 residents?
Delaware: Talent attracts talent. We know the value that businesses bring to a state, and companies recognize our status as an elite location for their business.
Me: Fascinating. Here I thought it was because Delaware has the most pro-management laws and courts in the nation. After all, companies based in your state have the laxest possible standards of disclosure, shareholder rights, and fiduciary responsibility.
Delaware: Well, I’m not sure I would put it that way exactly…
Me: Oh, my mistake. I thought you crafted laws specifically to appeal to corporate executives and create a tax haven for large companies so that your government received the incorporation taxes.
Delaware: Are you against supporting economic growth?
Me: No, but I find it odd that few of the companies have their main offices in the state and just one building in Wilmington is home to 285,000 businesses, even though that’s physically impossible —
Delaware: I think we should move on.
Me: Oh, of course. I know we’re short on time. Tell me about some of the things that draw individuals to your state.
Delaware: Excellent question. We are chock full of music festivals, beaches, and activities for families and people of all ages and backgrounds.
Me: That sounds wonderful! I know for a while that you struggled to appeal to a diverse audience, I’m so glad to hear that’s turned around.
Delaware: I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean…
Me: Just that your Jim Crow laws lasted longer than almost any state north of the Mason Dixon line and you were one of the last states to end slavery. Oh, also, I was so surprised to find that you were the last state to ban public whipping — just 1972!
Delaware: …we acknowledge our history and look forward to improving our communities for years to come.
Me: I can tell! I can see why people would love to live here — no sales tax or anything, even though you charge four times as much for out-of-state drivers to drive on your roads than every other nearby state. This interview is costing me $600 dollars and 30% of my soul. I’m sure it’s a lovely place to live.
Delaware: OK YOU KNOW WHAT.
Me: Oh my.
Delaware: YOU CAN SHOVE IT.
Some people think that they can refer to me as the shit stain on the side of Maryland, but that is just WRONG. Sure, our biggest music festival is mostly full of 18-year-olds wearing swimsuits and body glitter, but we’re more than the people who come here once a year.
Sure, we enable more corporate secrecy than any other state on the East coast. Sure, Rehoboth Beach is overcrowded and makes you feel like you’ve washed up on a less-successful spin off of Jersey Shore.
Sure, most people only drive through our state to get to New York City, Philadelphia, or Washington, DC. But you know what — if they stuck around, they would see that we are FUN. We are FUN DAMN YOU.