Southern Pride – Northern Manners?
Kristin had never been to New York before two weeks ago. She’d seen the pictures, seen the movies portraying the city, even read books set there, but never actually been involved in the culture that is New York City. I’d been a few times for work. Nothing more than a day or two there to walk around and catch as much as I could in the short time I was there. Certainly not long enough to capture the entire ‘vibe’ of the city.
Now, as far as the ‘stereotype’ for New York goes, we all know it right? Rough, hurried, self-centered, rude… the list goes on right? I mean, I could be wrong, but from an outside perspective I think we’d all agree that New Yorkers are considered to be a certain way, right? Funny thing is, not many of those characteristics are similar to what we’d call ‘Southern Hospitality’ right?
Kristin and I took the subway several times in the couple times we were in the city and there were a couple things that jumped out at me on those short rides. Now, I’ve been on public transportation in tons of major cities in America and typically (especially in San Francisco) the insides of the cars are usually decorated with all sorts of ads. Since sex sells here in America most of these ads are pretty provocative or at the very least pretty suggestive. So naturally it took me back to see that in the middle of New York City the ‘ads’ that are covering the subway car walls were pretty different.
One stated “Bring Manners Back To The City: Give an elderly person or pregnant woman your seat”. This one had a picture of a guy in a suit standing up and offering a pregnant woman his chair on the subway.
The second was a picture of a man with a dirty face and jacket. Under his picture it said this: “Help the homeless.” Then beneath that in the small print it said something like, “help the homeless or if you see someone in need dial 311 and we’ll send someone out to help”. Not the exact wording but you get the idea. Pretty striking difference than what we’d expect from such a “rough” city. Sure, there are rough areas, and I’m certainly no expert on the city of New York, but that certainly jumped out.
Fast forward about 15 hours as we’re pulling into the “Bible Belt” south of East Tennessee and we are greeted with none other than the Confederate Flag waving proudly in the sky. Now, we’ve had some pretty great conversation about the flag, the meaning of it, as well as the perception of it, but I have to be honest. Going from what is stereotypically a rude, self-centered, rough place publicly promoting manners and caring for others, to the Bible Belt and what is stereotypically generous and “hospitable” waving such a “controversial” icon struck me as a little weird.
And here’s the thing. I’m not claiming to be some culture expert and certainly have no idea what each person in the world thinks about homeless or manners or racism or hate, but I do, however, have eyes. And I have perception. And like every one else in the world I have questions about it all. So, I know there’s not really a point to this rambling, but I’m curious what you think about all this.