Sunday, December 16, 2007

When livin' in the South, you'll never meet a stranger. If you do, you can almost guarantee that they are "transplants". Southerners talk about everything. Everything. You're an instant friend, and if you're not familiar with this concept, it can shock the whatever out of ya!

A friend of mine moved her last year from the North, and for the first few months she would ask me "Why are all these people talking to me!?!?" She was not prepared for all the fuss that she got about her broken ankle. A broken ankle, carrying a one year old, and having recently moved here, she was fussed and loved on in a way that she'd never seen up North. "You know what Amy? They seem to really care about how I broke this thing". I'm sure they did.

I got a nice letter this morning from our newspaper carrier. I now know that both she and her daughter are recovering slowly from their illnesses, but hopefully, by the spring, they will have made a full recovery. Most of her customers have never laid an eye on her, but every Christmas she shares her life events with us, like we should care. And you know what? I'd say most of us do.

My Walmart cashier has a comments about every product that I buy. We have lengthy conversations about this item and that, how it's best prepared, etc. She's shared her cooking secrets, and I've encouraged her to try the pricey, but well worth an occasional treat, hot house cucumber.

My Ingles cashier has very bad allergies, and occasionally needs to stop and have a drink of water to clear her "very scratchy"throat. She never had allergies before moving here, but did I know that this area is one of the worst places to live in terms of the air quality? I may not have allergies now, but give it a few years and she's sure that I will. She'll even give me the name of her ENT if I'm interested.

But there are comments that surprise even me, and it happened five years ago when I was checking out multiple items, one of which was an EPT pregnancy test. My middle child was too young for me to be pregnant again, in the opinion of this cashier, and she asked me "Well, ain't yous usin' some protection?" Danger. Any response could lead to TMI from the cashier; personal advice from her own experiences. My kids were next to me. I was in the check out line for cryin' out loud! I'm sure I knew someone in the next line or two. Just get me out of here!

So for once, I didn't say much. I just smiled, put my items in my cart, and told her to have a good day. There are just some things you don't talk about with a "friend"/total stranger, even in the South!


ccw said...

It's funny that the down home feeling gets lost very quickly when in Ohio. Growing up in the southern most part of Ohio, everyone is friendly. Drive down the road, strangers will wave. Get something to eat, you can bet you will be called sweetie or honey.

When I moved a few hours north, the change was immediately noticeable. I told my mom that I would probably end up in jail if I were to go outside and wave to people. It is the same here in Cincinnati. People are friendly about letting you merge in traffic but other than that we are just strangers among strangers.

When we travel home or to my in-laws it is nice to feel so welcome. Seeing the poverty of the areas always takes some adjusting because it is easy to forget that people can live without a roof, etc but the hospitality is easy to fall back in to.

As for your b.c. monitoring cashier, that is hysterical!

Amy said...

When we moved to Michigan, I learned very quickly how different the South is. Everyone talks to each other in the grocery store. People look into carts, "Ohh that looks great! Where did you find that?" People will ask others for their opinions on products, esp men who have been sent out with the shopping list.
I tried that a few times in MI and people practically sprinted away from me. "Away crazy lady! Don't take what's in my cart!"

JoAnn said...

This post made me laugh. I had just returned from our local Kroger store where the young chap who was bagging my groceries hoisted up my jars of prune juice and in a loud voice said "I heard this stuff really works." He then noted that I sure was buying a lot of it and for some reason found that very funny. I love living in the south. It is nice to share smiles and little conversations. I just don't understand why this is such a southern condition. My husband tells me he can tell when someone pulls into his place of business from NYC or NJ. The impatient and demanding attitude can be difficult. It almost causes you to say " Chill ya'll!"