When I was in Texas, everyone was so darn friendly I couldn’t believe it. Was this real? Where I visited, in The Woodlands, people still have block parties and new neighbors are welcomed with hot casseroles and freshly baked cookies. Southern hospitality, I’m told.
While jogging in Savannah, Georgia, I noticed just about every person coming my way said hello or waved. It happened so often I started to feel guilty if I ran past someone without acknowledging them in some way — eye contact or perhaps a nod.
In South Carolina, the wait-staff in restaurants seemed happy to be there and it reflected in their service. One waitress asked, “How’s that iced tea taste, honey?” And you know what? I think she actually wanted to know. Our water glasses were repeatedly filled by the bus boy who was never without a smile. And every local we met seemed interested in chatting.
You see, I live in Marin County where that type of thing doesn’t happen often. (Strangers interested in you, or acting like they are.) I’m generalizing, of course. But Marin is, for the most part, a wealthy community. I might be getting myself in trouble here but I think money sometimes breeds entitlement, which then breeds self-absorbedness…not exactly an environment conducive to someone caring how your iced tea tastes, let alone bothering to ask.
Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not insinuating everyone in beautiful Marin is rude or disinterested in others. Again, I’m generalizing. But I’m sort of missing that Southern hospitality in my hometown. It seems these days I hear more horns honking; people are less tolerant and quick to anger.
Take last week…I was driving down the freeway going 65 (the speed limit) in the middle lane when I approached a car crawling along at maybe 55. Why the driver wasn’t in the slow lane where she belonged, I can’t say. But cars continued to pass her on both sides.
When I was around 100 yards behind her, she began pumping her breaks, apparently telling me to slow down. Nothing seemed to be in the road for her to warn me about, so I passed via the fast lane. That’s when she put her window down, stuck her arm up and out (like a Nazi salute) and flipped me the bird. For 59 years I’d been a virgin to being the recipient of someone’s middle finger, but sadly, that record no longer stands.
As I passed her, I looked over and noticed she was yelling at me. REALLY yelling. Couldn’t read her lips since I flew past her (I admit I’m a fast driver) but my thought was: what warranted such behavior? Was she afraid I’d ram into her? I never tail-gated, so that couldn’t be it. But her extreme response to whatever perceived atrocity I did to anger her was just plain rude and…
Then there’s the guy who used our online neighborhood bulletin board, of sorts, to say he’d lost his cat Monty and to be on the lookout (even though fur was found next to the cat’s torn collar). Since I run a cat rescue and never pass up a chance to educate those not in the know, I first posted how sorry I was that a coyote most likely took Monty, then reminded folks of the importance of keeping pets indoors at night since we reside alongside these small-animal predators.
Apparently I offended a guy who posted a rebuttal and titled it, Dear Jackass: (that would be me). He disagreed with my assessment that Monty was no longer alive, saying I was being pessimistic and dashing hope from Monty’s owner that he’d be found hiding nearby. I’m all for positive thinking, but I wasn’t being pessimistic. I was being realistic. (The cat’s owner later posted that, unfortunately, bloodhounds detected 2 coyotes ate poor Monty.) Anyway, my point is, wasn’t there a more polite way for a rebuttal without name calling?
Now don’t get me wrong (again); I love my hometown in Northern California…
I wouldn’t want to live anywhere but here. But I have to admit, I miss the social niceties of those places I’ve visited where people have that friendly, inviting drawl. Some might say Southern hospitality isn’t always genuine, but that’s okay with me.