Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Elevator speech

I’ve decided today (or really a week or so ago) that my Southern-ness is slowly oozing out of me. When I get in an elevator with just one other person now, I no longer feel that I must carry on a conversation with him/her. I just stand there, staring at the buttons or the door or the floor. If they start the conversation, then I will happily join in. I have no trouble holding my own. But my compulsion toward idle chat seems no longer necessary. At least in an elevator.

Is that good?

Midwesterners, though not Southerners, are actually quite pleasant. I was surprised about that when I moved here. I expected them to be like New Yorkers (or at least like how people say New Yorkers are). I thought that if I asked a silly question (something I’m full of) they would slap me. Or worse: give me that “You’re so stupid” look. So I was thrilled when I found everybody (ok, most everybody) here is very agreeable.

But Southerners are so accommodating. If they meet your eye on the street, they say hello. And they try to meet your eye. They do not look down or up or around just so they don’t have to say hello. They (we) have a cultural rule that if someone doesn’t return your greeting, well that person is just plain rude. Or at best, in a really bad mood.

I guess since I am thinking about finding it unnecessary to chat in an elevator, then I have not quite shaken off my Southern roots. When I no longer think about it, that’s when I’ll be integrated into the new culture. But how I am going to know? If I don’t notice.

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