Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Courtesy Isn't Common





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!!

54 comments:

Jessica said...

Uh...I think we live in the same place.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Oh Joan I have lived this! I am so sorry.

When I lived in Seattle it was the worst! it made me cry a few times. So when my career moved us here I was thrilled to leave.

It's still hard for me because I work from home but I have to admit this is the best place I have ever lived. I may have to write a blog about that....thanks for the idea. :-)
Seriously if you were my new neighbor or co-worker we'd have had drinks and you could tell me about your theatre career and I could tell you how I have no talents in any field, let alone singing, dancing and acting.

Here's to friendly people at your next destination.

lori said...

Wow, they are an unfriendly bunch. Unfriendly and uncourteous folks just make the everyday doings of life unpleasant. I hope it's a happier place where you're going. Whatever happened to towns like Mayberry?

Jeff said...

This is so unreal. I lived in York, PA off of Leader Heights Road from 1984 to 1989 and guess what????..I felt the same way. I never felt I belonged even though I tried. To this day we have not been back. We have zero communication with the people there. But guess what there are places where people are accepted for who they are...hope your next home is that place.

Feeling Just Right said...

Joan,

Thank you! And I say that with all 32 showing! You so mirrored what I have been thinking about lately. I love your writing- it gave me a LOUD LOUD laugh! :D :D

(Still smiling) I wish we could go around teaching manners to strange strangers. I remember reading a chapter from my English textbook in school, "The Impossible Dream" by Art Buchwald. It moved me so much. I made sure I followed every line. I've been propagating it like I am being paid for the job! You should google it. Really. You will love it.

Also, can I say "thank you" to you on behalf of the driver? and "Oh, my dear, are you alright? Did I hurt you?" for the woman?

You go on. A lot of people elsewhere need your kindness.

p.s. I wish I could help you with the move, in person. Big hug :)

Lisalulu said...

AGREED on almost everything you said!

Teresa Evangeline said...

I've seen this same behavior over and over again. I'm so glad you wrote about it. I wish the people who need to see it, would...

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Brilliant post - it took me a while to make friends in Ireland after moving here, so I totally get it. And you are so right to make the first move, even though it is difficult and sometimes you face rejection. Hope it works out for you in your new home x

Pat said...

Wow...all you said is true. One runs into these people everywhere. However, there are many people who are friendly and helpful. I just look at it like this, those nasty folks are very unhappy, miserable people and I'm actually sorry for them. Here's hoping your new home is just crowed with a nicer crowd!

Cheeseboy said...

Your town sounds like they need a friendship wedgie. The guy on the interstate SHOULD still be sitting there, waiting to merge.

Being Me said...

Very well said. I don't even live in the same COUNTRY and we've got a lot of that going on over here! It makes me want to stay sheltered in my little corner of the world and not venture any further in to the populated areas.

just call me jo said...

We moved from Idaho to Arizona a year ago. I've felt like a leper about 95% of the time we've been here. I can't even move with the flow "correctly" in the grocery store aisles. I never had problems running into people in Idaho. Here they head right for me gritting their even white teeth as they plow over me. I thought it was just AZ, but obviously it's rampant. I've just never lived any where else so how did I know. I hope your new home town is friendlier. If it's not, remember that it's not you. I loved the past posts and this one. Some times the world is ugly even when you try to see the good side.

Katie's Dailies said...

The mean old codger who doesn't wave the "thank you" wave and the "Hey-I'm-a-runner-Good-Morning" nod, I've so been there! When we moved from the DC area to NW Arkansas, we were overWHELMED by how nice people are, total strangers waving to me from their cars, neighbors coming over to talk to us in our front yard, even the check out people at the grocery stores are willing to make conversation.

There are nice people, I just think they're all in the South! ; )

Cate P said...

Wow, just run right out of there and don't look back...... btw does your bandanna have skulls and crossbones all over it? ;)

Rachel said...

Well, I agree on almost everything, because there is no reason for blatent rudeness. BUT... as the 20-something cashier at the local Target, I have to say that even though I am 26, I look 19. And when I look like a bitch, (as I have been told on more than one occasion,) I'm not trying to be rude, I'm just trying to stay awake because I work two jobs, 70 hours a week. I'm not saying that some cashiers aren't rude, because some really are, but not ALL of us. I still try to smile, but some days, I'm just trying not to fall over :)

Sylvia K said...

You see that here in Seattle a lot, but after living in as many places as I have all over the world, I guess I just don't pay any attention to it anymore. But you're right about some people's attitude - they suck! I do try though to always be friendly and open. Great post, as always! I know you'll do well in your new city! I'm excited for you! Enjoy!

Sylvia

ReformingGeek said...

You would always welcome down here in Texas. We are usually all smiles and hugs and we head nod or wave on the trails....most of the time.

We have a few losers, though, but we usually try to ship them up north somewhere.

Eva Gallant said...

Excellent post. I hope you have much better luck in your new home!

CentFla said...

I am with Jeff. These people just don't like others who move in from some where else.

See YA York!

Kirsty said...

Aww I love your outlook on making new friends now! I'm moving into my first house with my guy in the next year or two and I really hope I will feel the same and reach out to people like this too! Thanks for sharing!

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Yikes! What an unfriendly area! I hope the next area is MUCh better for you!

Shan said...

Well then here's to clearing out and enjoying life southern-style. I'm hoping all those rumors of southern welcomes and friendliness are doubly true for you!

I have a hard time making friends here, but it's more about the fact that I don't have time to volunteer or do any other extra-curricular lifestyle things. I'm looking forward to next year, when Fynn's slightly more independent than she is now, so I can set up a class or two. I miss my people.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Been there, done that in San Francisco and New Jersey. Not fun. Hope your new town is friendly and happy!
jj

elsiee said...

I've lived in Orange County, CA for over 18 years now and have only made a few friends - When my husband and I were in the active "trying to make friends with people" stage I can't count how many couples we invited over for dinner that never reciprocated in any way, ever, ever... here's to friendlier towns and the joys of new friendships!

Delana said...

You go girl! I grew up in the Midwest and people were generally so friendly that nobody could even get through a 4-way stop. But here in France it's different...more like what you've experienced. Could be the town and not the country, I don't know. However, sometimes, I just want to slap someone silly. Instead, I persist and hope I'll eventually kill them with kindness. Thank you. Reading this felt as good as a great workout!

DVAGB said...

Brilliant, courtesy and common sense are both things that are missing in most of the city I live in. I can't wait until I can move, to find a little shack in the middle of nowhere that I won't have to deal with the everyday rude attitudes that people have along with their sense of entitlement for everything and anything.

Ace said...

Are you sure you don't live in my town? I am in PA, too.

Taylor-Made Wife said...

I hate inconsiderate people. The running thing is the worst. I'm not asking people to stop and chat,, but I do like a frinedly little wave back. geeze.

Chell... said...

The diversity I've seen in the short moves I've made in Michigan are crazy to me! I have recently moved back to the town I grew up in, where I had spent 18 years of my life. I am leaving behind the Detroit area and am finding that, and very astonished in ways, that the town I was so anxious to get back to in 5 years is actually less friendly then where I am leaving. Less polite, the waves of hello are non existent, and I am looked at strangely when "hi, how ya doin?" comes from my mouth on that walk.

I don't get it! I am coming back home and feel so, so out of place already!

Wishes and prayers to you and your husband on your next move! Good luck!

Ally said...

Apparently we live in the same town. It's exactly like that here where I live in NJ. I remember thinking the people were so much nicer in other towns/states we've visited on vacation. Nobody lets anyone in here to merge or exit, etc.

lifeshighway said...

My town is just the same. Small and steadily refusing to acknowledge new-comers (12 years).

Lynn Irwin Stewart said...

I'm in Georgia -- we're pretty nice, as a whole...but there is rudeness everywhere.

HeartsMakeFamilies said...

Hmm I think I used to live where you do now. It took moving across a river to find southern hospitality. Odd it is only 10 minutes away but totally different.

The Hillbilly Housewife said...

I can so relate...and I just moved as well. We were so glad that we did. In this little town, we have to giggle every day when I take a walk. Every single person waves at you as they pass. All of them! Well, except the teenagers.

I was never so happy to get out of a town where people were so un-friendly! Good luck on your next moving adventure.

Denise said...

Ah yes, I remember when :) It's hard moving into a new neighborhood - especially as you lift you're head up to smile and wave at a new neighbor when you are in your front garden, and they walk by without even lifting their heads. Yes, been there, done that. Thankfully I met great friends elsewhere. Good luck on your next home, may you be welcomed with nothing but friendly folk.

An English Girl Rambles

Icy BC said...

I'm glad you're moving away from an unfriendly town. I experienced before upnorth, and dislike every moment I had there.

Yes, be the first to make friends and welcome friends. They will appreciate it more than you know.

Everyday Song said...

Peed my pants a little. You forgot to add the 800 year old Ebenezer at the public library who shushes your kids louder than they were talking. We just moved from MN to WI and I can't believe the difference. Okay, we do have the people with scentless poop, but in general you can't deposit a check at the bank without exchanging cell numbers. Every once in a while I want to just be efficiently crabby, but I do feel a lot better here. Maybe cheese curds are the secret to happiness. Where are you moving to? Or did I miss it?

darpar said...

Hi. I just ran across your blog for the first time and loved your comments about/to the unfriendly. People like that are, unfortunately, pretty ubiquitous - and your really nailed the various types . I'll be back to read more soon. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. (Your blog title is pretty interesting as well.)

The Urban Cowboy said...

I think I've lived in that place a couple times. Here's hoping you find the opposite at your next place of residence.

Wild Rose said...

Hilarious...I think you and me could be friends because i get annoyed at the same s*** and know of such towns. Hope i see you around sometime :)

Lynn Irwin Stewart said...

HeartsMakesFamilies...I know what you mean...funny now putting the word "North" in front a town changes everything! But watch out for the little old ladies at Hamrick's...

Sir Thomas said...

*nods*

well said....

bitethebedbugs said...

I love you. I like what The Bloggess says about this in general. Be nice or I will stab you. Fuck you! I shout to bad drivers and mean people in cars. And then my kids learn bad language, so it's sorta a wash.

Kristin said...

POO on the unfriendly. I have a neighbor who refuses to say hello to me. But I keep on waving and smiling and calling out to her. It's become a game. HA! I hope your next town is full of potential fabulous friends!

Tash said...

I love the way you take the bad and turn it into a promise for the future...Your post also made me really think about how do I act, do I reach out to the newcomers and do I try to make contact with people I don't know... I don't think I do enough of it, but taking photos & blogging has helped me connect to the place and people more (and I've lived here for 24 years!)

I remember faces really well, which is a good & bad...because I'll remember people who kind of stare at me when I say, "Oh, I remember you from such and such activity"... And isn't it great when you do get that sweet friendly checker/salesperson/neighbor. So I really like the young guy at my bank, who remembers both my first and last name, and the young woman at the bakery who greets me with some reference to our last weeks conversation.
Wish you friends and friendly people in your new town.

Elle said...

Your subject line really says it all. I can totally relate. I live in Minnesota, land of "Minnesota Nice," but truthfully? It's the land of Minnesota pass-aggressive-and-sometimes-outright-aggressive-or-even-downright-hostile.

Michelle Faith said...

Amen and thank you!...God How I wish more people would think like you. I married a man like that...just does not seem to see that others walk on the earth...No goodmorning never greats people..Makes me sooooo crazy!

Eternally Distracted said...

I hope your next move is somewhere near me. I wanna be your neighbour - those cookies sound fab!!

The Empress said...

WOW!!! I LOVED this ...why? B/C that is how the people are in my town.

I LOVE the town, it is an adorable artistic community...but the people? You can throw them all in Lake Michigan, except for 3 of them.

I am right there with ya, someone should warn people considering this cute town that the people here? ...not so cute.

I bet that felt good getting off your chest...I hope I have the same chance some day.

Kakka said...

I hope the move will take you to a better town. But I wonder if as a whole society everywhere is now more like this. I hope for your sake it is not, but it seems worldwide (I live on the other side of the world) that people are like there here as well and I have live here for all my life. It never used to be that way, but it is now. I would love to meet you when I was new to a town. xxx

m e l i g r o s a said...

wow crazy!! well hope to see your future adventures, and reading about new people. you are such a good describing writer, keep these posts coming!
xxo.m <3

Getting My Words Out said...

What a great reminder to reach out to people. I make a point to try to meet new neighbors, but "never" talk to someone I think is new at the gym or at church---only because I'm afraid they will look at me and say, "I've been here longer than you have!!" But, hey...if that's the case they should have been the one to welcome me, right?!
:D

Helena said...

Ha Ha! There's a post for all of us who have been hurt by the rudeness and unfriendliness of the people in our hometowns. Hope you find a better crowd in your next one!

Anonymous said...

I found this page while searching for a picture of a young-adult cashier with a bad attitude.
I think you described the problem very well!

Jim
Cherry Hill, NJ

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