Although I have lived in New England for almost 7 yrs I will admit I am still a Southerner at heart. When I first moved to New England, one of my native friends told me that it was readily apparent I was not a native (just as my husband once assured me that even though I was walking in the engineering building no one would ever think I was studying engineering!) I didn't "look, act, or talk" like a New Englander and evidently this had been gossipped about around the neighborhood. (just as I didn't look, act, or talk like an engineer) I don't know what gave it away, the long blonde hair (not common in new england), my gratutious giving of plates of homemade treats, or my willingness to talk to anyone about anything even if I didn't really know them. Maybe there is something that happens when you cross the Mason Dixon line, maybe it is because the Southerners are not tortured with unending winters, bad windy confusing roads, and high taxes but then again Southerners have to deal with big bugs and bad humidity.
I know this a gross generalization, but let me share some examples. Here people always let you merge in traffic, and always give the "thank you wave" when you let them in. Kids say yes ma'am and no sir and teenagers are polite (no I am serious!)!! In my recent shopping adventures, everywhere I go people go out of their way to hold doors for me. They smile pleasantly, come up and talk to me about my children, they are just downright friendly. And store checkers too, they really talk to you. Like last week when my checker queried me about a food lion card, I told him I didn't have one because I was just visiting. This prompted my college aged bagger to ask me very sincerely how I was enjoying my trip. By the time they finished ringing up my ice cream and bread, I had my bagger and checker rollicking with laughter at my train travel antics, a scene such as this would not have gone down in my local stop and shop. Similarly I totally bonded with the two women in front of me at Macy's the other day, after a conversation at the price scanners we met up at the checkout. The grandmotherly woman in front of me bought the same sweater as me, and we talked about her upcoming trip to London. I shared my coupon with her and I even felt sad at the end of my transaction leaving the nice ladies behind.
There is just a sort of easy joviality that people have. When I taught school here, and a guest like the principal or a parent walked into the classroom a few kids would quietly get out of their seats go and hug the person and return to their work. When the school day was done I would walk my kids to the bus. Most of them would hug me on their way out, then I would get hugged by about 50 other random kids as their classes filed past. All the teachers would stand there and wave until the buses departed. Not to knock my darling quaint hometown, but no random teenagers there come up to me (32 year old mom of 3) and tell me I am "totally gorgeous"(as one did today at my parents church)I am sorry but I can't turn down that sort of spontaneous flattery. So sorry New England for all your charms, I gotta go with the South on hospitality!
1. friendly strangers
2. feeling welcome
3. seeing being with friends