As a newcomer to Tucson, I would like to explain some of my recent behavior.

I'm the guy driving the red car going only a few miles above the speed limit. In our first weeks here, we saw several cars pulled over by motorcycle cops, and I want to avoid that for myself. Thank you for not giving me the finger as you speed by. Know that I'll get literally "up to speed" soon.

I'm the guy hesitating a bit in wonder when I do business at your store and your clerk greets me with a smile and a sincere "Hello."

In the town from which we moved, salespeople treat customers as intruders and the usual greeting, if any, is a sullen sneer.

The same wonder pertains to restaurant servers here. They are universally (so far, anyway) friendly and helpful, whether it's at a drive-thru window or in a white-tablecloth place. I hope we never start taking Tucson's idea of customer service for granted; you all should be proud of it.

I'm the guy driving down the street staring in disbelief at the block-long expanses of walls with no graffiti. In our previous home town, it was rampant. And while I understand there is something of a problem here with it, it is nothing like what we came from, and we appreciate the absence.

I'm the guy waving "Thank you" when a driver in the next lane pauses to let me switch into it. We're used to cars driving almost bumper-to-bumper to prevent such lane changes; not for any reason, just because it seems to be macho to hold one's position at the expense of any other driver.

Similarly, I'm the guy who still doesn't believe it when I come up on a closed lane and observe drivers in the open lane slowing to let every other car from the closed one in. And I'm also the guy who almost weeps with gratitude when I'm trying to get from a parking lot into the mainstream of traffic and someone pauses to let me in. Yep, it ain't that way at our previous home, either.

I'm the guy who'll take photo after photo of palm trees and/or saguaros and/or Mediterranean cypress (thanks to the nursery guy on Fort Lowell who took the time to identify them for me).

They are new to me, and in my eyes, beautiful beyond description. I know that some day I might stop paying attention to them; I'll do my best not to let that happen for a long, long time.

My wife, incidentally, has started giving names to the more unique saguaros; we think it will be a lifelong avocation.

Finally, I'm the guy who is not complaining about the heat. Where we came from, the temperatures are running about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than here, which means it's still "adequately warm" (the term we use to avoid overusing "hot") there, too.

And we definitely will have the advantage in a few months when we're not shoveling snow in order to get the morning paper, then again to get to the car, then again to get back up the driveway. And yahoo for that!

In short, I'm the guy who moved here (with my wife) about four months ago from the town in which I had lived for 36 years and who wishes I'd done it long before now.

Tucson has made me and my wife feel welcome beyond our imagination. We thank you for it!

Eliot Kohen and Marilyn "Mickii" Cohen are recently retired to Tucson from New Mexico. Email them at