Calling Out The Locals

One of the fun things about travel is that you get to see what is different about the wonderful nation (or world) that we live in. Different landscapes, different cultures, and even different ways of speaking the same language. While there was a lot that we absolutely loved about New England, one of the things that stuck out to us were the people.

In our neck of the woods, the locals are incredibly giving and caring. We're helpful, down to earth, and mostly friendly. Especially to other locals. Unfortunately we tend to look down our long noses at those Not From Here on occasion, and it's something I'm trying desperately to teach my kids to avoid doing. And I try so hard to remember to model that behavior for my kids.

New Englanders are so very much like we are, from what we saw. They're helpful, down to earth, polite, and friendly. Just like we are. But the difference that was noted by my children was the fact that New Englanders are positive thinkers. And happy. In a store, the cashier will make small talk with you while genuinely smiling in anticipation of your shared conversation. They will ask you to have a nice day with a smile on their face. They will answer the standard, "how are you?" with "Fine, thank you" or something even cheerier.

And it wasn't until Becky pointed out to me that our dear locals here in Pennsylvania are not so happy in replies. The standard, "how are you?" is almost always answered with the standard, "I'm hanging in there" or something equally dismal. Now that this has been pointed out to me, it's all I notice. People around here really are discouraging to talk to. Cashiers rarely smile and never initiate conversation. In fact, when I do they look at me in that tone of voice that clearly says, "I get paid to scan your items. Now you expect me to talk to you, too?" There are exceptions, of course, and I'm so grateful for those happy little gems that I run into locally, but far more people fall into the "life is sooooooo hard" category.

Locals, we need to become aware of this. Can we work on smiling? Saying a cheery hello on occasion? Not being negative, but thinking positive thoughts? Do it for your kids. Do it for yourself. You'll probably live longer, and it's guaranteed that you'll die happier.

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