Cleveland newcomer Wesley Dittman knows how to savor some of the most important things in life — people, places and a politeness that is refreshing to the people he meets.
The Daytona Beach, Fla., native said he especially enjoys traveling and has set a goal of visiting all 50 states in his lifetime, meeting new people while enjoying America’s beautiful landscape and its multicultural society. So far, the good-humored, courteous, 28-year-old has already visited 24 states, returning from Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago.
Although he has not completed his tour of these United States, Dittman admits to an early favorite among major cities — “Boston, Mass., renowned for its cultural facilities and its place at the forefront of American history.
“Boston is one of my favorite cities. It was very enjoyable. I thought about moving to Boston, but it’s so outrageous to live there [expense wise]. It’s probably never going to happen. Besides, I’m pretty content with where I live in Cleveland.”
When asked what he likes most about Cleveland, Dittman smiled and said, “Being close to everything. Cleveland has a country atmosphere and the people are very nice.”
Dittman, who lived the first nine months of his life in Daytona Beach, said he enjoys a diverse community. He and his parents moved to Boaz, Ala., for a few years, then spent 23 years in Blue Ridge, Ga., but confessed that by the time he left, it was time to move on.
“Blue Ridge is a beautiful town, I’ve lived there most of my life,” he said. “The work scene is awful. I worked in the same grocery store for a total of nine to 10 years. I worked full time for four years. The pay was minimal and career wise I wasn’t going anywhere. You have to drive 30 minutes to a decent theater and we didn’t have an Olive Garden or Outback (Steakhouse) there, like they do in Cleveland.”
According to the single, unencumbered professional, things changed for Dittman when he heard about a Publix store opening in Cleveland.
“Mom was already working in Cleveland, at the BB&T bank,” he explained. “She was driving back and forth about an hour and 15 minutes to work. So Dad and I decided to look for jobs in the Cleveland area.”
Being ministers who volunteer their time to visit their neighbors to discuss and study the Bible, Dittman and his father were already dressed in suits when they decided to go into Publix in Cleveland for job applications.
“As we were applying for a job, one of the customer service reps saw us and told a lady in personnel about us,” Dittman said. “We gave her our resumes and we were called the very next day. We had interviews within the next few days and were hired right then and there.”
When asked about working for Publix — a Fortune 100 Best companies to work for in 2013, Dittman said he appreciated the higher salary, better benefits, bonuses and stock ownership plan that Publix contributes to associates each year at no cost to them, including an opportunity to purchase additional shares, a 401(k) retirement savings plan, group health, dental and vision plans — things he would need to support a family of his own someday.
Dittman describes finding the right marriage mate as a top priority, along with getting promotions on his new job not being far behind.
“Basically, I’m looking for someone who shares my faith and who could be my best friend with a good sense of humor,” he said. “I’m looking for someone I could be compatible with, who likes to travel. I’m very easygoing, I don’t like to ruffle feathers. I enjoy getting along with people.”
The sociable traveler said he likes to go to movies and play sports, as well as watching them.
“I also like video games and singing Karaoke,” he said. “I like to have fun — go places, do things, meet people. My goal is to visit all 50 states, but I wouldn’t mind doing it as a married couple. In fact, I would prefer it.”
There is no official data on exactly how many people have been to all 50 states from around the country, but the idea of visiting every state in the union is becoming a popular notion among young and old alike. Some travelers visit just long enough to document their stay, while others take their time to enjoy meeting the people, savoring the sights and appreciating what makes this country “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”