Thursday, November 19, 2009

Southern Hospitality

Every time I go to visit friends and relatives in the deep south I am reminded of how rude people are in the north. Every where I go, people holding open doors for each other and saying hello to perfect strangers. Complete strangers that we passed on the street waved to my husband and I when we went on our morning jog. The friendliness of the wait staff in restaurants was unbelievable. It actually made me feel a little ashamed of how rude people are here.

While my family is from the south, I grew up in Northern Virginia which isn't very southern at all. It's maily a D.C. suburb with a mix of different cultures from around the world, not just the U.S. But even in my pseudo southern upbringing, I was accustomed to doors being held open for me and people saying hello to me as I passed them. When I first moved to Pennsylvania to go to college I was shocked by how rude the people were. I can remember stopping at a rest stop with my mom and not a single person holding a door open for us. I hadn't even arrived at school yet but it was clear that this was a whole new world that I was entering.

It's been 15 years since I first left Virginia. While I would consider myself to be a fairly considerate person, I know that I am not nearly as neighborly as I once was. In general, I don't think people are as hospitable any where as they used to be. As a society, we have become more brash, more rushed and more self centered and less concerned with helping other people. But there is still a marked difference between how people act in the places that I have lived and the south.

I will admit that one thing that was apparent in the south was how behind they were in other areas. There is limited recycling so a lot of things get thrown in the trash that would be recylced elsewhere. There is a lot more staring going on when people that are different walk into the room. I noticed a lot more loose dogs and cats running around. Obesity is a much bigger problem. The separation between different classes is defined by race much more than it is in other places. So while I wish people were more friendly in New York, I would much rather deal with rude people than live in a time warp.

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