Saturday, April 3, 2010

Knowing your Neighbors?


Noel brought up a good point a few weeks ago that I would like to focus on and that is the idea of knowing your neighbors. Long ago in a time far away, I heard of stories about neighbors sticking up for each other and how the children of the neighborhood had respect for their elders of that neighborhood...Helping them with their groceries, saying yes ma'am or yes sir. Being DEATHLY afraid of getting in trouble around any neighbor due to fear of being "popped" by that neighbor and again by your mom when you got home.

Today's society is sooo much different. Today if you even smacked a kid upside their head you have the fear of being "lynched" by the masses. No one knows your name or your daily struggles in life. I was surprised to hear about my neighbor who I may have said hi to once in a blue moon has MS. How did we get so disconnected?

As a generation X/Y'er (depending on which source you use) I can try to give my take on it. Personally, I really don't like ALL. Human beings are stupid (including myself at times) and they have all these hidden expectations of people and get mad when those expectations are not realized. They think that just because they "think" something that the people around them are automatically "supposed to know the rules" that they have setup in their heads...and when that rule is broken they get pissed off. While the unsuspecting victim has no idea of their "offense".

I think women and the younger breed of humanity suffer from this more because of their "emotional makeup". But I have heard of examples of men being just as emotionally imbalanced. What happened in the last 30-40 years to produce this in people? Is it political correctness? I'm not sure but all I know is that we are all supposed to be mind readers now but I fear that our species haven't evolved that much yet and it's causing problems!

Here are a few examples I can give of this "mind reading dilemma" :

  1. I heard that one of the reasons why some people were upset at Igho was because he didn't "offer" to supplement a person's heating bill while he stayed at their home. My response to that is -Did you tell him that if he stayed he would HAVE to pay? To that question MANY people would say "He should know". Where I would say NO he shouldn't. Different societies and cultures have different beliefs. If you expected payment you should have made it clear.

  2. My neighbor mentioned in passing that when he plowed the back alley the ONLY person who gave him money was Chris who gave him $20. My response to that is Did you tell people that if you plowed the back you would like people to chip in for gas for your snowplow? Again, the response would probably be "You should know". My response is: If I do something I do it because I WANT to not because I EXPECT payment (unless I've made that point clear), so if no one pays me I don't care... if someone feels lead to give, I'll except it and say THANKS :)

  3. I've heard people get upset and I have probably been (unknowingly) on the chopping block for Not chipping in for gas when traveling with folks. People will say "If your riding in someone's car it's only right to chip in for gas, and if you don't your (rude, cheap, @*&^, etc). My response is in my eyes if I'm ALREADY going there, that person's butt isn't going to weigh down my car to the point where I'm burning extra fuel. IF I'm going out of my way and it's close, I'd probably still won't care. IF it's OUT OF THE WAY, I would make it CLEAR with the person BEFORE I drop them off that I expect $10 bucks for the ride.
Notice that most of these are about MONEY! but that's not the only thing that people expect other people to know. There are MILLIONS of rules people have in their heads about what IS RIGHT but never actually say it. I like a lot of elderly people because they (most of them I find) are RAW. They will tell you exactly what's on their mind. You don't have any miscommunication or misunderstanding. I don't know if that's from age (wisdom) or generational, but I believe we all should be more open about our expectations. Don't assume someone should know "Your" rules. It's not that hard to say: If you use my lawn mower please put gas back in it or I would really appreciate it if you could {fill in the blank}. I think that would alleviate 90% of the tension because I don't think most people set out to be jerks... they just don't know they are being perceived that way.  But that's just coming from a curt jerk :)


David Caines said...

Hey Nikita, always love your posts.
This is almost exclusively an American issue and oddly, one of the things I love about this country.
In most other countries there are class or caste systems and you are raised within them..period.
Here, freedom does make a muddle of things, but I can be blunt if need be so I get on just fine with most folks. I accept that their culture probably isn't mine, and inform them of what mine demands...tend not to go too much the other way, I rather like my culture...mostly because I've weighed it against most others.
We actually do know all of our neighbors, hell...we've called EPD on more than half of them.
You'd think that would set them against us and to some degree it has, but oddly we are where our neighbors come when there's trouble, or they just need something. We're nice, friendly, helpful, and don't take much crap...pretty much none really.
That works for us.
As to the cluster F@#k of cultures and their expectations, ours are that everyone is reasonably civil, quiet, and law abiding...and as they are our cultural norm they are the expectations that we stand by and sometimes enforce.
Set your own level Nikita, and help/make others live up to it.

DRL said...


You hit on two issues that strike a chord with me.

First, the unspoken expectations of people who pressume they're doing you a favor:

I spoke about this a month or so ago in regard to why I spend so much time keeping my street clean, shoveled, raked, etc. My expectation is not to be thanked, rewarded or held up as an example of good citizenship. My expectation is to simply know I will be living on a clean, shoveled, raked street so I can enjoy it myself.

If anyone wants to get out there and help with the work (whether through inspiration or guilt) it just adds icing on the cake. Lateley - after a decade of going it mostly alone - I see signs of assimilation by the newcomers. Hopefully it sticks.

Second, Igho's short stint in Easton:

You're right; he was a guest here and shouldn't have been expected to unilaterally payback the hospitality. He and I had a number of conversations while I showed him apartments for rent. He was somewhat of an allusive guy but I attribute that, as you say, to coming from another culture(s) - Nigeria, college in England, working in Houston.

I think he got a raw deal here - I'm sure he does too. He told me who could and couldn't be trusted before he left. There may have been perceived shortcomings in his styles of management and communication, but he wasn't given a puncher's chance to work them out on the job. Before we knew what hit us they were changing leadership.

This situation was exacerbated by the unwillingness of CACLV/WWNP to explain exactly when he left OR why he left OR when he was being replaced (apparently never) OR what would happen to the Canton program (still a mystery). It's not like they haven't had the opportunity. I went out of my way to ask the tough questions and was met with a wall of silence. I understand personnel privacy issues but maybe a general explaination of the situation at least?

This is all very telling when you consider how those in charge fell all over themselves praising Igho when he was first hired and how quickly that all changed. Perhaps they were too enamored with a fancy resume' from an exotic locale. Perhaps they saw Igho as a doorway to fancy, grant-funded foreign adventure trips in the name of "urban ecology". Perhaps he offered a convenient attempt at perceived "diversity". Or perhaps eventually Igho just didn't want to become another pawn in the non-profit foodchain of Easton poverty programs. Where has the bottom-up rhetoric been since he left?

We'll never know for sure until those NGO's we've entrusted with our neighborhood's future actually start trusting us once in a while.

I'm not holding my breath.


Dennis R. Lieb said...

Just adding my name to the above post since I forgot to log in before publishing it (in case anyone doesn't know me by now).


Nikkita said...

Dave and DRL you bring up great points!

I will be the first to say that I am moody. There are days when I can be friendly and then days that I just want to be left alone. But I will always say Hi to someone if they initiate it. Sometimes I feel that I'm always the one initiating it and it leaves me to I stop saying hi to people to see if anyone will say hi and they never do. Possibly because they think something is wrong with me because I didn't initiate it like I always do but again, should I always be the one to?


I am right with you on the Igho subject. I liked Igho and when people look at me like I have 3 heads when I say that I say, I didn't have to deal with any managment style conflict, I just dealt with the rallier. There are going to be cultural differences between the people from Easton and a black man who is from Nigeria and England. That's just a fact... you should know that going in. Which is what I told people. He was always gracious and polite to me and when I last spoke to him a month or so ago he still remembered my daughter and told me to give her a hug for him. That gesture wouldn't come from a horrible person (maybe a creepy child molester) but not from a guy who is being painted to be as bad as everyone has painted Igho. I wish he was given the opportunity to do what he does... but that just shows you that Easton isn't REALLY ready for BIG CHANGE.

g_whiz said...

Its all about social expectations when it comes to what we consider pro-social behavior. People don't open doors for strangers, say "god bless you" when you sneeze and/or look out for others just because they're good natured. In fact, the cynical sociologist in me says its usually the opposite. People do these things because they're expecting a payoff; be it consideration from the party the small service is performed for, positive reinforcement by way of a "thank you". Think about how annoying it is to go out of your way for someone and have them ignore you entirely. Quid pro quo nicieies make the world go round, but its very rarely out of the kindness of hearts.

Regarding this Igho person, it sounds a little before my time here. Can someone provide some context?


g_whiz said...

When it comes to knowing people in our communities, I try to take a very lassez-faire approach to interaction. Its always great to be able to connect with people in your neighborhood and have a shared sense of cohesion...but not when there are too many strings attached. When it comes to social control- or the idea that other members of the community a generation or two ago would have had no problem both a.) reporting your socially unacceptable behavior to your parents/gaurdians and b.) punishing you themselves, you're entirely right. A LOT has changed regarding how we interact with our neighbors, their children, our community in this regard. We're disconnected more, perhaps, as a way to self protect (from liability) and I think its a little sad.

As for expectations, there are a lot of imbedded cultural assumptions people can make, but unless they're very strong norms (Say excuse me when you bump into someone, don't steal etc), its generally not a huge problem when someone fails to meet them, thankfully. A baptist woman I used to know used to take offense to the fact that I never said GOD when I "blessed" her sneeze. I'm not going to lose sleep over it. She might think slightly less of me for being an athiest, but she's not going to (I hope) avoid me over something like that.

You're completley right about the importance of communication. We can't hold anyone accountable for failing to meet our expectations if we don't vocalize them. Very cool post.

Nikkita said...

Thanks G! Sometimes I think I may be overly sensitive so I usually keep my distance as a way to not get my feelings hurt or to hurt others(which doesn't always work :) An example of that was making sure you realized I didn't intentionally try to snub your handshake that day. I'm very bad and ackward when it comes to social interactions.

You are right when it comes to people usually want some sort of acknowledgment or acceptance when doing something....even if they don't know it.

When I am around conversations I really just listen and decipher what people are really trying to say...and when they talk about people I wonder what in the world must they be saying about me. I notice most of the gossip is not even really necessary and is just a difference in belief systems and shouldn't be causing as much grief as it does.

I'm not saying I'm perfect and I've done my fair share of gossip but I also have no problem telling those same people what I think. It's fine to agree to disagree but you should at least know what the disagreement is about.

Alan Raisman said...

I am 22 years old, and I have tried to live a lifestyle where the only expectations I have are a greeting of hello as I walk down the street or a wave from a friend from across the street. Growing up, I lived in a neighborhood where I knew who lived next door to me, where I could walk and bike throughout my community, and where I could knock on my neighbors door knowing that I will be greeted with a "welcome" or a "what's wrong?". I have experienced the same warmth from living in the dorms at Lafayette College.

When I was a senior in high school, my parents moved to a traditional neighborhood development in Montgomery County, PA. In the suburbs of Philadelphia, traditional neighborhood developments were rare, and we wanted to live a neighborhood where we could walk on a sidewalk and interact with our neighbors.

It is very unfortunate that some people expect some sort of monetary benefit from their actions. As a young person, I want to grow up knowing that I can become friends with individuals because the only expectation they have is that I will be a friend to them as well. When I graduate Lafayette in May, get a job, and begin renting an apartment or buying a house, I hope that my neighbors will be neighborly and that my friends will only expect friendship.

If everyone tries to act like they want to be treated, we will see the world differently. If 99 neighbors in a neighborhood of 100 say hello and the one individual does not greet you, that individual neighbor should adapt to their surroundings in time. As new neighbors move into the neighborhood, greet them, welcome them, and introduce them to the community.

When I came to Easton, I was introduced to the community and some of the people here. I saw how the community treated their neighbors, and I have tried to adapt to my surroundings and treat those I met like they treated their neighbors. But I also tried to bring something to the community as well. Every individual brings something unique to a community, and we need welcome them and treat them like a neighbor. We need to see what individuals bring to a community, and we need to both celebrate that as well as show them the current environment. A lot of individuals have moved to Easton throughout the years, and we need to see how we can embrace them and include them in the neighborhood, in the community, and in Easton.

Nikkita said...

Thanks for your input Alan. My mom was from the South where that seemed to be "the norm". I grew up in Paterson, NJ where that was NOT the norm. The norm was to mind your own business.

My mom would spend hours on the porch (here in Easton) and say hello to every person who walked down the street. She knew people's names and knew about their lives.

My one neighbor who no longer speaks to me (for some unknown reason) used to talk to my mom all the time. She has been to my house for parties and my mom to hears. After my mom passed away she talked for a little while but then stopped. Possibly because I don't go out of my way to socialize with people...not sure. But after my daughter said Hi to her and was snubbed, I don't see a reason to engage in any type of conversation with her.

Now my mom always said that I was too hard on people (which I may be) but in my eyes I don't have time for foolishness. If you can't muster up the niceness to say hello to a child, there is something wrong with you and I can't be bothered...because if I've done something wrong you should tell me, because I would definitely tell you.

I did notice when I moved from Paterson to EastBurg that people were ALL into saying hello and stuff. Couldn't really understand it... I always thought they were just nosy. They just wanted to know your business and not really know you. After coming by for the "initial" visit,you never really saw them again. Plus, I've always found that when you tell people about you they end up using your weaknesses against you in some form in the future.

Anyone who I'm friendly or friends with required little or no effort to obtain that friendship and those are the people I talk to. There are plenty of people out there that I wish it were easier to befriend but I have found that those people are not compatible to my spirit and anytime I've tried to force it, have regretted it in the future. The difference between Quality and Quantity. And since I'm so bad at chit chat the whole friendly neighbor thing just doesn't work, although at times I wish it did :)

David Caines said...

I definitely have expectations and I'm pretty open about it. They are basic, but useful. We do all the things we do here for ourselves, to make our lives better and if others benefit, and they have, well so be it.
Our block is becoming the sort of place where we actually might want to live. A few of the neighbors have said thank you, a dozen or so have moved out of the neighborhood into worse parts of the town where their lifestyles are more acceptable, good bye and good riddance. Believe me they were more than willing to tell us their expectations (don't call the police, mind your own business), up to and including death threats.
We decided to just go on as we intend to continue...our life is better here, hopefully it doesn't sound to shirty to say this, but at the end of the day that's what matters to us.

g_whiz said...

Heh, you can learn a lot about a person by listening to them interact with others, with their gaurds down, for a half hour. One of the truisms I used to mutter a lot when I was younger is that "conflict is inevitable", and beyond that that knowing how to express oneself diplomatically and compassionatley was the difference between an adult and a child. Some days are easier than others, and at the end of the day I think its peoples intentions that matter more.

I'm, perhaps not suprisingly, a little socially awkward myself (and a lot more shy than I let on)so I thought our little handshake senario was more endearing than it was offensive. I didn't give it a second thought :)


noel jones said...

wow-this conversation is hitting on so many interesting tidbits for consideration--i'll start with the sneezing:

long ago (in the dark ages, i believe, saying "god bless you" and covering one's mouth when sneezing came about because people believed that their spirits could escape their bodies during the explosiveness of a sneeze (hence, holding it in with one's hand, and asking for god's help in holding another's spirit in). nowadays, we still have the tradition, but covering the mouth is a matter of hygiene, and saying "god bless you" or even just "bless you" almost seems to mean, "please think i'm a nice person," or "i'm polite, and i like you."

noel jones said...

now--speaking to neighbors. i started out in alaska, where everyone spoke to everyone in passing. then again, when you have a lot of land in between each house and have to drive miles from the store, you tend to value the chance to interact with almost anyone--i think it's a naturally need for community, which almost all humans share, which is why solitary confinement is considered one of the worse punishments in jail, and can easily make someone go crazy. on the other extreme, when i was living in new york city, new york being the place where people tend most to keep to themselves, striking up a conversation with anyone you don't know, even a neighbor on the same floor of your own apartment building, is regarded as suspicious, and so, while it's not impossible to get to know your neighbors, you have to have a really good excuse for talking to them to open up a conversation, i.e., "did you hear that the landlord might be selling our building?" new york is made up of people from every country and culture of the world, so it's rare that everyone feels they have something in common worthy of connecting over. the exceptions that i have witnessed are: snowstorms, blackouts, and 911. suddenly we were all in it together, talking to strangers as if we were all part of the same group. being a social person, this was the hardest part of moving to new york for me, being ignored, and learning to ignore everyone around me to fit into the culture. new yorkers have one thing in common though--unless they are rich, or on welfare, they are all hustling their butts off to keep their heads above water, because the cost of living is so expensive there and simply commuting from one part of town to the other via subway can be a stressful experience. it is a very competitive place, with millions of people in that competition for money to survive, and if you relax for a minute, there is always someone there willing to hustle harder and take your job, your apt., etc. --so, the most polite thing anyone can do in new york--and there is a sort of silent agreement on this cross-culturally--is to not waste anyone's precious time, which is something that everyone is desperately short on. that's why new yorkers have such a reputation for talking fast, moving fast, expecting proactive fast results, fast customer service, etc. it's what's been demanded of them, and what they've come to expect after years in that culture. the biggest challenge for me in moving to Easton, was learning to slow down and relax from that pace and that level of expectation, although i do think that once someone has lived in NYC, you tend to learn skills of efficiency that stick with you no matter where you go.

so now that i've been here for over three years, i've been able to strike a nice balance between the super relaxed pace of an Alaskan, and the hyper pace of a New Yorker, and i'm very happy with living in a place where neighbors don't expect to talk to you every time they see you, but also are open to conversation if you strike one up.

so, looping back full circle to the sneezing, i leave this comment with a disclaimer: anyone in conversation with me is hereby absolved from saying "bless you" because, with my allergies, and this being spring, you might go hoarse trying to keep up with me!

David Caines said...

We like the New Yorker in you, but I think you hit one of our problems on the head and that is different/ higher expectations.
The old two ways to equality that there are two ways to equality -the first and easiest is to bring everybody down (like soviet communism0. The second and the hardest is to lift everybody up, and that's the path we try to take. And I think that's the path that most on this blog are trying to walk as well. sadly the problems here in easton are legion thankfuly enlightened self interest says to hop in and get to work. I do most of the time really belive that we all have the same basic goal in mind, if not always the same path. THe skate park thing, I'd rathger see $50,000 dropped on 30 computers and the money to keep them on line, it's non-gender specific and in this day and age if you can't function on a computer you may as well be illiterate. Maybe it is a New Yorker thing, but I'm a root cause, think ahead kind of guy and with the limmited resources availible I'd just like to see the money go to something with a bit more universal impact.
Don't let the allergies keep you down,

noel jones said...

David~I hear you. as for the expectations, the only way that mine have come down a bit is in terms of speed. as for aesthetics, they have not changed, and i continue to be frustrated by the strange sort of seemingly mandatory positivity through which many insist on viewing this city--every restaurant is excellent, every art exhibit is excellent, every event is excellent, etc. it seems that the bar of expectations in easton has been lowered so far as to no longer have a bar at all, and so we have a downtown with some of our "most successful businesses" that can't even seem to dress their windows properly, which affects the first-impression that visitors and potential home-buyers get when they come here. i would love to see someone throw some grant money at Ken & Ron to redesign the offending window downtown...

what has changed though, is walking into a store, saying hello and making conversation before announcing what i am looking for. in easton, this is polite. in new york, it would be rude, a waste of the shop owner's time or possible cause for discomfort or suspicion, or the assumption that one is a tourist. i much prefer the more relaxed friendly encounter i experience in easton. however, when it comes to general professional proactivity in service, and especially follow-up, i still find my new town frustrating at times.

all of this gets balanced out though, in that i can easily see friends spontaneously in Easton, and on a more regular basis, than i could in New York, because we were all just too busy trying to survive that hustle, that pace there.

all in all, the good outweighs the bad for me, and i love easton enough to put the energy into it that we do each day to raise the quality of life for everyone in the neighborhood. thanks for all your efforts on Wolf Ave. everyone doing their part (and a little extra to make up for those who don't) is what is going to keep us rolling in a healthy direction.

good luck on your rehabbing--can't wait to see the final result!

David Caines said...

Outside of the just rampant criminal activity, one of the hardest things to get used to here, was the niceness. People at home depot asking if they could help and things like that, it took us awhile to not be bugged by it.
As to the "Bar" I have seen this in other economically depressed areas, the vehement denial of all reality, or maybe simply an inability to look at the problems without being overwhelmed. I must say though that EPD, EFD, and the mayor seem to be stepping up to the problems pretty well.
The schools sadly are a disaster, I've met people with HS diploma's from places like Mexico and Guatemala, who are better educated and socialized than Easton kids. And that is just sad. As a former employer I can tell you that I'd never have been able to hire 90% of the kids I meet in this city, they lack even the most basic fundamental elements needed to be in the work force . It's sickening.
A generation simply thrown away.
Anyhow, Thanks,

Untouched Takeaway said...

I wondered if this isn't a geographic thing. I'm from the South and say hello to pretty much anyone. I've dated two men from Easton - both of whom thought I was nuts to strike up conversations with strangers.

noel jones said...

UT--it does seem to be cultural issue associated with geography--the South is definitely friendlier in general, and the friendliness that i grew up with in Alaska was partly due to Southerners, as we have a lot of Texans and Floridians up there (for those of you scratching your heads at that idea, it's the oil).

it makes me wonder if there is a difference between eastern and western PA culture, since western PA borders Ohio (the friendly heartland) and W. Virginia...

g_whiz said...

Having spent the past several years in the South, my experience is Southerners are certianly more polite, if superficially. They'll go through the trouble of pleasantries, while lacking in genuine sincerity (again, my experience). On the converse, we have this area, where people are slow to trust and invest, but once that milestone is achieved you have a solid and unflappable friend. I'd rather the hard earned option any day of the week.

David Caines said...

My own experiences tally with Gavins, but I like the politeness even if it is superficial. Those little politeness' are I often think what makes the world go round and I've noticed that in places where they are absent, you get more confrontation and more violence.
I give a wave or a nod to everyone, I'll say a quick hello to our gang bangers if they happen to be walking by (though they never seem to know how to take this). A sort of simple "Yes I see you and recognize you as a human..." .
That's just the kind of world I want to live in, so that's how I act...and like the rest of humanity I have my good days and bad but things like that I've just made a habit over the years. Possibly because I've known so many other cultures I've come to appriciate having a sort of "fixed" or "stock" culure of my own.

noel jones said...

i, too, like initial politeness, especially in on line communities, as it leaves the door open to resolving miscommunications, etc. in a forum where tone can be so easily misinterpreted. i'm very proud of the civility on this blog as it allows this on line community to engage in earnest debate without swinging to extremes and fosters an exchange of ideas on very real issues facing our community without disintegrating into vitriol.

what politeness provides, is the up front amnesty of assuming the best about a person, rather than assuming the worst, and energy is like a swing--what we push out there ends up swinging back to us. i've been thinking about this a lot. for instance, if a driver makes a mistake and obstructs another car unnecessarily, there are two possible reactions: 1. to slam on the breaks and curse and make visible hand gestures that say "you stupid idiot" to the other person, sending them into the rest of the traffic of the day even more stressed out than they already were at making a mistake and affecting other drivers, or, 2. to stop, smile and wave the person politely to go ahead and go, knowing we all make mistakes sometimes and sending them into the rest of the traffic of the day feeling like it might be a good day after all, and that since someone has given them a break, maybe they can "pay it forward" and give someone else a break.

what worries me in a place like easton is that any depressed town has a lot of depressed people in it, and depressed people have a tendency toward pessimism and rudeness, an angry penchant for punishment rather than redemption, and above all a cynicism that actually causes one to be more personally invested in seeing their perspective validated than working to heal a community. for instance, the moment a person says, "this place will never change" that person becomes more invested in doing nothing to make a community better because in doing nothing he has a better chance of "being right" each year, and taking some perverse pleasure in the "i told you so."

as much as any other issue in this town, i think our challenge is combatting depression and cynicism, and politeness, civility, assuming the best about someone and engaging them really helps.

Alan Raisman said...

I agree with David that politeness is beneficial even if it is superficial. It is important, I feel, for kids to grow up in an environment where they see what could be. When those kids grow older, they will remember their childhood and react to their surroundings as they remember how their parents and neighbors reacted to their surroundings years ago. When I moved to Easton, I remembered back to the neighborhood where I grew up and remembered how my parents treated my neighbors their fellow neighbors. Even if that politeness was superficial, I treat my neighbors as neighbors because that was how I was brought up. I am very grateful for the memories I have from my childhood.

David Caines said...

I do try my best to be polite, sometimes fail. But Noel I must agree with you about the deppresion and the sickness of being only ever right in negativity. It's an easy bet, sooner or latter all humans fail, all societies, most gods for that matter.
We still have alot of that and a feeling that (some of) the nieghbors are just waiting for us to move away so that things can get back to "Normal". And yes they can again be proven right.
Change happens, the only say that we really get in the matter is how we steer it.
What I think the nieghbors fail to understand is that we're basically stuck here.
I will I hope always be somewhat polite as that is my habit, but with no where else to go for the forseeable future...well we will get scrappy if needs be.
PS: Enjoyed the "Bike Rodeo" like to see more of that sort of thing.

Untouched Takeaway said...

I'm so sorry a lot of you think "Southern" politeness is superficial. Perhaps in some cases it is, but I think that could be said of any region.

I wonder if a lot of the interactions are from "reverse snobbery"? The Lehigh Valley area has a long (and deservedly) proud history of solid blue-collar employment, and I sometimes think that in an effort to espouse or defend that pride, it comes across as being very mean-spirited.

I do agree about your comments regarding depression/disinfranchisement causing rudeness or pessimism. It's so very apparent in the responses to articles posted on the Morning Call and Express Times websites. I realize a lot of it is "internet testicles", but some of the comments leave me literally gaping at the rudeness/racism/hatred.

We're all in this economy/unsettled time together.


David Caines said...

My time in the "South" was odd for me, but equally oddly fulfilling. I loved the self sufficiency reminiscent of my childhood in the Arizona desert, yet I didn't much care for the fact that most considered me a "Yankee" and therefore somewhat untrustworthy.
I'll split the difference and say that some of the politeness was superficial and some genuine. Though I've seen this elsewhere, was raised around it to a point, and it has value.
I was introduced to the NASKA ( north American Sport Karate Association) pretty young and have been either a member or supporter for close to 30 years.
Vo Thuat/ Chaun-Fa (Vietnamese) practitioners have a hatred for Chinese Gung-fu / Chuan-Fa stylists that is the stuff of legend...but thankfully due solely to the enforced politeness rarely results in bloodshed ( China occupied Vietnam for close to 1000 years). Oddly, perhaps the truest forms of Chinesse Gung-fu / Chaun-fa (China fist / Fist Law) can be found among the Viet. The "Cultural revolution brought Chinese arts under it's sway (not to mention somewhere between 80-120 million dead) in a demiled art known as "Wu-Shu", much as Ken-Jutsu, was Demilled by we Americans into the sport of "Kendo".
I have seen this enforced superficial politeness save lives and bring peace among those who harbor grudges thousands of years in the making. It is for this reason that I personally don't use the word "Asian"...As almost all Oriental cultures demand specific recognition. So much for P.C.
I'll admit that I am one of a handful of Americans who can tell the difference, and when I can't, I ask.
I made some deep and true friends in the south and if Jeanette hadn't needed to stay near NY I would have willingly moved back there after the fire.
So please, don't think I am disparaging Southerners or their ways. I am not.
a Southerner may address me as "Sir" and might not mean it, but it beats "Yo-Bitch" hands down.
I've heard that "Manners make the man", I don't disagree. Nor does Jeanette, we are quite polite with each other and that habit makes for a pretty happy house.