I’m in a different place now and for whatever reason, I have noticed some differences I feel are important to note.
Why? I’m certainly not trying to be mean-spirited, but perhaps my observations will make sense to someone. Or maybe I will get some answers.
Above all, I will admit that my reporting these observations is a bit selfish. Furthermore, I am completely aware of the fact I wrote a column on forgiveness last week. So, I guess I have some work to do.
In one city, I kid you not, everyone waves! We arrived there shortly before the holidays and drove slowly down the street on Christmas Eve to attend a family function. It was an unseasonably warm Christmas Eve and people were out in their yards.
Everyone waved as we drove past – not an exaggeration.
This was not the case in the other place. Sure, there were and are beautiful people who smile and are confident enough to wave and greet others. There are people there who go out of their way to say “hello” and make contact with people. So, I’m not talking about any of them.
It used to seem to me you had to be formally introduced and then had to be around a person for a “trial period” before they were friendly to you in the other town. Can some of you back me up?
There were and are people who seem to go out of their way to ignore, not make eye contact, or even grunt. When I first moved to the other town, I’d meet people on the sidewalk or in the school hallway who made no eye contact or said a word.
I wasn’t raised this way (and yes, I’m saying I’m special and fortunate). To me, this is just rude. How about you?
I have told you before that I started having a good time with those people. I’d make them speak to me. I’d bark off a loud and congenial “Good morning!” and surprise the heck out of them. What a good person I am.
In this new place, we passed a home decorated for Christmas. It is a beautiful newer home, one that the people of the other place might even approve of. Manicured lawn, no vehicles parked on the street (gasp!) and all the boxes checked.
However, at night, this holiday decorated property became a winter wonderland of white lights and various forest animals lighted up. It was really pretty.
In the middle of the display, if one were to look closely, there was an unassuming toilet. An illuminated reindeer was propped up on said commode, doing his business. The “business” was illuminated as well, with a stream of yellow lights.
My momentarily disapproval soon melted into a “good for them” attitude, and I laughed out loud thinking what some folks in the other place would say.
Boy, would I love to see the reaction.
When I wrote my bitter and scathing column a while back about our battles with the city inspector of that other town, I was sent a good many emails applauding my words and the content of the column. I wasn’t necessarily going for that reaction, but it was nice to hear from people who had similar feelings.
One person told a story of a family deciding to move to the other town. It was eye opening, and it possibly sheds some light into why things are the way they are.
It seems this family talked to a realtor from a town “north” (gasp) of Perfectionville. This realtor was not allowed to show the new family any properties in the fancy schmancy town. Only “locals” could do that.
There were no “for sale” signs in yards, and people basically had to go through “tests” to get property in Perfectionville. The new family was told, at the bank, that they had passed “the first test” since someone had sold them property in town. The person who sold them property to build a house had not advertised the property, simply because she could “pick and choose” who to sell to.
So, they were in!
The new family, who have now lived there a long time, told me they did not recognize certain things that should have been red flags:
A private “community pool” in order to keep certain kinds of people out of town. Unwritten rules about how one keeps their yard, car, or even the street in front of their house. Comments made about who people are “from home.”
People who move into this town are outsiders for the rest of their lives. I can’t tell you how many old-timers have told me they are still considered transplants after living in town 50 years or more.
“If we’d recognized these things, we may not have decided to live there,” one person said.
I wonder how generations of people living in a community can really believe that their town is so important, so exclusive, and so special that “certain people” can be “kept out.”
I mean, there are so many wonderful things, I’ll admit. So much good! But why is the town so stinkin’ special in the eyes of so many?
Those same people will tell you there are no feelings of prejudice, entitlement or bias. And furthermore, squawking parents don’t run the schools.
If you believe that, maybe you’re in the right place.
If you agree with some of these things, I’d be glad to show you a place that may seem a lot friendlier. You can take your time blowing the grass clippings off the street, and if you forget, someone else might do it for you.
Furthermore, you can park your car on the street. People walking by will wave and talk to you. Complete strangers strike up a conversation in the checkout line, and the lady at the cash register is always, always nice. It’s a different place; at least it seems that way.
Come visit us! If you come in December, we will walk by the urinating reindeer and laugh.
(This columnist can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org)