Thursday, December 9, 2010

Does where you live affect how nice you are?


In my book, Bitch, Please! How Nice Girls Can Succeed in a Bitch's World, I have an entire chapter dedicated to how manners have been replaced with moxie in modern day culture. Do you ever find yourself surprised when sales people are friendly or when a random stranger holds open the door? It seems that common courtesy is no longer that common.

Most often, I am gripping my purse nervously while I attempt to ask for directions from a random person. I hate it when my questions are met with an annoyed eyebrow raise and clenched teeth. No wonder I would rather drive around in circles pretending like I'm not lost.

Since when has needing help become a handicap? Since when have we built walls so high around ourselves that we roll our eyes when someone asks for a little direction or even a simple, "where did you get that amazing looking danish?"

Letting the elderly go first, saying "please" and "thank you" over the age of 6, and not cussing someone out over parking a little too close are antiquated ways to associate with strangers in today's world.

However, I think that demographics play into this quite a lot. And while I am not a researcher, I have done my own little self-study by living in different parts of the country and here is what I've concluded:

West Coasters are cold. East Coasters are busy. And Southerners have it right.

I remember the first time I was waiting for an elevator in a building downtown Nashville. Two men in suits with briefcases were standing in front of me. Both appearing to me to be very important, they were chatting cordially with one another. The doors opened and instead of rushing ahead, punching their buttons and continuing their conversation as if I didn't exist- they stepped aside, held the elevator door open for me, and asked which floor I was going to so they could push the button for me.

My jaw dropped, and I turned red from the attention.

Aren't you supposed to look anywhere but at those who share the cramped elevator space with you? Don't they know that on the West Coast, we urgently pull out our cell phones and pretend to check emails to avoid interaction?

It's shameful. In the South men will not enter a building, a coffee shop, or a car before a woman- no matter her age, appearance or status. They may even let you go first in line at Starbucks if you show up at the same time.

Now, I have to be honest. As any born and raised Seattlite, I do have to say that I enjoy the space. Sometimes, a cheerful, "How are you this morning, ma'am?" makes me want to roll my eyes and stick my tongue out. I'm doing awful! I'm tired, sick of this job, and want to go back to bed.

But sometimes when you're nice when you don't want to be no matter where you live or where your from, well... that's all it takes to change your mood entirely, not to mention your day!

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