Monday, January 22, 2007

"Cold & Angry"

"Cold and angry." This is how a friend who was displaced by Hurrican Katrina recently described New soon as he said it, my southern friend was concerned that someone might be offended. As a native of New England and someone who has never lived in any other part of the country, I wasn't offended at all, in fact it struck me as quite true.

There is a different feel here...I noticed it the first time I visited Virginia at the age of 14. Generally speaking, people are more friendly, more outgoing, more considerate and thoughtful when you leave the northeast...Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of kind, wonderful people in this part of the country. I was surrounded by them growing up and I like to think that I am one of them, but I know I can do better.

The reason that I am even bringing it up, is that now that I have two children, I notice little things that I never paid attention to before and I'm super sensitive to the little things that people do to help (or not) during my day. This afternoon at the grocery store I experienced "cold and angry" New England at it's worst...I was standing in the check out line with Grace in the sling SCREAMING her head off...the line was long, really I stood trying to comfort my baby a very pregnant woman in the line next to me started talking to me...we were talking for maybe 15 seconds, when I turned to check if my line had had and a woman had cut right in front of me....(The only reason that I even noticed is that an elderly woman whom I had spoken to had been in front of me 15 seconds earlier...) I knew she knew, because she never once turned to look at me (even in New England, a screaming baby tends to get an empathetic look...)...I wasn't going to say anything, but then Grace really got going and I couldn't refrain. As she started to unload her cart I said "Oh, that's all right, you must be in a real hurry. Feel free to cut right in front of me." She looked at me and said something like... "Well the woman in front of you got out of line and you were standing there talking and I didn't know what line you were in....blah, blah, blah..." I guess it would have taken a real effort to ask me (as I held my screaming baby) if I was still in line....(maybe if I was from the south I would have kept my mouth shut!...ha, ha)

It's not all bad, last week a woman held a door open for me for what seemed like 5 minutes while I made my way across a parking lot with two kids in tow...a few weeks before that a woman helped me unload my groceries at the checkout and on a particularly cold day, an older gentleman loaded my groceries into the back of the car while I put the kids in their car seats...these last two "acts of kindness" actually made me cry...I blamed it on my crazy hormones, but I think actually, it has more to do with the fact that it was so rare and unexpected to have a stranger offer to help you.

I think that most of the time I am pretty considerate and helpful, but I am going to do better...I plan to make a conscious effort to do the seemingly insignificant things like hold a door, smile, say hello and thank you (while making eye contact) all of the time...maybe I'll inspire someone else to do the same...New England may always be cold, but it doesn't have to be so angry.


Zoanna said...

OH, you brave, brave woman. I have never had that kind of nerve in a grocery line. The closest I've gotten to standing up for my place in line is just scootchie up so close to the cart in front of me when someone even dares and I don't make eye contact. I may have said, "I'm behind her" once or twice but I guess I'm a southerner at heart, here in Maryland. It doesn't mean I don't THINK rude and sinful thoughts.

Bethany said...

Most people here are pretty nice...except for on the FREEWAY. Lots of late angry meanies out there. HEE HEE.

I was thinking about this the other day just driving...letting people in etc. I feel so much better being kind and not ignoring people. I know it makes my day when people are kind to me but it also puts me in a better mood when I am kind to others.

I had an incident getting ready to fly the last time. This woman was just awful and rude to me and my kids saying stuff. It came to backfire on her on the flight when her granddaughter was out of control and acting worse than my kids. I sooooooo wanted to make some rude remark to her when I walked took everything in me not to say something. I did give some ugly looks and sure felt a lot of awful thoughts aimed her way.

It is interesting to think...if we all were more sypathetic to each other and made kindness a priority this world would be a better place.

michelle said...

sarah - it's great that you made that women accountable in such a nice way! - I bet she's *way* more hesitant to do something like that again and That might have been just what she needed to think twice, before making herself first.
I love that you're doing this blog sister!!