Sunday, June 29, 2008

southern hospitality

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

18 comments:

Tamlynn said...

Such a difference! After moving here from NJ, the first time I went to an Albertsons and the clerk actually looked at me and smiled, and the bagger asked if he could help me to my car I just about cried. I know there are nice people in the NE, but they don't work in grocery stores.

Amber said...

Ahhhh, there's no place like home! I feel that way whenever I head back up to Canada. There is just something about those fun-lovin' Crazy Canucks!

Chel said...

I enjoyed reading this... everywhere is such a different experience and feeling, isn't it?
My sister moved from Utah to Georgia and said the same sort of things about those hospitable Southerners.

We're Wingin It said...

We took a month long trip around the perimeter of the southern and eastern U.S. when I was young, and it was so neat to see all the differences!

Sonja said...

Where do I sign up? Sounds like the place for me!

Cathy said...

I really miss the nice people. MA seems to be full of grumpies. Somedays I wonder if it is wearing off on me.
I went to a fireside with President Clark and had to laugh to myself when he tried to explain that the people in Idaho are "Really Nice" a concept parents and youth of Boston can't grasp.

smart mama said...

oh and just to add another experience- i totally bonded with the librarian today (who aided me in using their uber techno check out system- but then remarked how he hated them becasue they lose the personal touch) and the guy at chick-a-fila gave us our entire order for free because it was our first visit?? seriously-

sweetpea said...

My mom is from the South, and she has always told us the same thing. I would love to visit there--it sounds like my kind of place!

Jamie said...

Respectful teenagers? How refreshing.

We only lived in Texas for about 4 months but what a difference! I've never been to a nicer state. It was even a shock moving from MA to UT where people are so much friendlier and don't seem to mind when you strike up a conversation.

smart mama said...

and for the record allen read told me he read my post and incredulously asked "so a teenager told you were totally gorgeous?"
but dear husband the appropriate response is not chuckling laughter but the line "really only told you that- i thought it would be many" for future reference

Trueman twins said...

Moving from Los Angeles to Texas was quite a shock! I can remember shopping and STRANGERS coming up to me and striking up a conversation! I thought WHY is this person talking to me?? After a while I found it quite nice and got used to it.
Glad y'all are enjoying your southern hospitatility!

Christy said...

I know you will leave us some day and honestly I can't blame you, but please come back this trip! I am getting worried...I may not survive on my own!
sincerely stranded in ma

Emily said...

yes, those New Englanders tend to keep to themselves a bit. The easy grin and friendly attitude always give one away. Glad you are enjoying vacation and feeling at home.

smart mama said...

don't worry i will return- more amtrak adventures await me!

new england is going to have to shape up after this...

Michelle said...

oooohhhh you make me home sick. Granted, the midwest isn't terrible, but I sure to miss the good ol' capital of the 'fedracy. :)

Andrea said...

Ahhh...this warmed my heart. Being a Southerner for the first 29 years of my life, I didn't know what I was missing until I moved.

I still don't miss those big bigs and humidity though.

LL said...

HELLO! i thought about you the other day. Grocery store in Utah, the people were so chit chatty and I was in line looking at my watch all anxious and bothered by these "casual" friendly people. THEN, I had to laugh at myself because I've become a hurried east coast person. Your blog was a good reminder to slow down and RELAX!
we miss you guys...hope you're still enjoying your time away.

swimmingmom said...

Hey, we're not all bad here ;-) I second Christy on her thoughts- you best be getting back here soon!