Now that Alan and I are moving, I can finally say out loud what I've been trying to ignore for over a year now. My current home town is an extremely unfriendly one! Seriously, I've never lived in a place where making friends was so difficult! Even at the organizations where I volunteer, although I feel I am well-liked, no one has really bothered to get to know me, despite my own attempts to do the same for them. For instance, at the senior center where I've worked for the past six months, a woman recently referred to me as "That Lady That Calls Bingo." She hadn't bothered to learn my name. In six months.
But, I'm a big girl. If we were staying, I'd have adjusted and persisted in finding some genuine friends. But since we're leaving, I no longer seem to be able to find the energy to try! I have, however, learned a valuable lesson from my experience here. Once I'm in my new home, in my new town, and eventually connect and make friends there, I will ALWAYS be the first one to reach out to newcomers.
I will be the first at the new neighbors' door, a plate of fresh-baked cookies in my hand. I will approach the new girl in my Zumba class, and bring her over and introduce her to my friends. If we're going out for coffee afterwards, I'll invite her to join us. When I'm working or volunteering somewhere, and a new girl is hired, I will make a genuine effort to engage in a conversation with her. I will ask about her family and her hobbies, and I will remember her answers. In short, I'll do all the things I wish someone here had done for me. You have my word!
I wrote the following post back in October, just a few months after we had moved here. At the time, I thought it was just a silly little entry, because I knew eventually I'd find the "kind, thoughtful" people. That wasn't really the case. See if you can identify someone in YOUR town like this:
To Every Teenage/Twenty-Something Cashier at the Grocery Store/Department Store/Garden Center Where I Shop: Yes, I know you don't want to be here, working for minimum wage so you can afford all that thick, black eyeliner and those low, low, low-rise, skin-tight jeans you're wearing. I know you've got much better things to be concentrating on, like the fact that you think your boyfriend may be cheating or that you may have just flunked your biology pop-quiz, stuff that's WAY more pressing than ringing up my silly birdseed and potting soil.
But here's the thing: this is your job. You're being paid to be here. And guess what? This is life! Like it or not, we all have to do stuff we don't want to do every now and then. Maybe you should join the rest of us, stop pouting, and ring up my stuff. And would it really kill you to smile once in a while? You don't even have to show teeth or anything, just a little turn-up at the corners of your mouth when I make eye contact with you and cheerily say, "Hi!" would be just AWESOME! And while I've got your attention, can you and I make a deal? If you promise to stop staring at my (adorable!) pumpkin sweater in horrified disbelief, I'll pretend that I can't see your ass-crack every time you bend over in those jeans you painted on this morning. Deal?
To the Guy I "Waved-In" When There Was a Line of Traffic Backed-Up at the Light: Remember me? I was the person in the copper Infiniti FX who watched you sit there at the exit of that gas station while SEVERAL cars drove by, refusing to let you merge-in. I'm the one who stopped, holding up all the angry, horn-blowing, selfish drivers behind me to allow you in ahead of me. I even smiled at you, remember?
You were so taken-back by the fact that someone was actually being courteous that you hesitated at first, wondering if it was all some cruel joke I was playing. You seemed to wonder if just when you attempted to pull out, I would rush ahead, laugh, and then point and shout "Sucker!" at you. But I waited, and you pulled in front of me. Remember how you mouthed the words, "Thank you," then smiled and performed the international "wave of appreciation" that all courteous motorists know to do when someone has been thoughtful? Remember? You don't? Huh. Maybe that's because you NEVER DID IT!!! Seriously! You couldn't manage a simple "thank you" wave? Really?
To the Elderly Woman Who's Shopping Cart Bumped Into Mine Because She Was Walking Briskly, Looking at Breakfast Cereal, Instead of in the Direction She Was Going: Hey, everybody's done that, right? No big deal! But you know what the rest of us do when we've hit someone so hard that their cart rolls back on their feet (feet that were particularly SORE that day from an intensely strenuous morning run!)? WE APOLOGIZE! Really, we do! We say, "Oh, I'm so sorry! What was I thinking? Are you OK?" Seriously, that's what courteous, kind human beings do! What we don't do, usually, is what YOU did, which is SCOWL at me for having the audacity to actually be standing in a public place, inhabiting the same aisle as you, shopping for corn flakes! The NERVE!!
And Finally, To Every Man, Woman, and Child That I Have Passed On the Sidewalk or Trail While Running: I'm the girl wearing the black running pants, Cleveland Browns t-shirt, and unattractive bandana around my head. My "weapons" include a heart-rate monitor watch and a wash cloth I use to wipe the sweat off my face. When I make eye contact with you as I pass, nod my head and wave my hand slightly, cheerfully saying, "Morning," I'm simply greeting you. I'm not trying to "hook-up" with you, sell you something, or rape you. Would it really kill you to give me a simple nod back? I promise I won't follow you home or stalk your children at the bus stop. I'm just being friendly. And the truth is, when you completely ignore me like you always do, never acknowledging my presence, even though I run by you EVERY day, well it just hurts my feelings! There. I said it. (Seriously, is it the bandana that's off-putting?)
Wow! That felt GREAT! I hope this has cleared-up any questions you all may have had about how to behave like courteous, caring human beings on this planet. I know you've been waiting on pins and needles for me to give you these very instructions, and that you will now rush right out and implement all my excellent advice. Well, all I can say is-- You're Welcome!!
Thanks for reading!!