Monday, September 26, 2011

Where Has All the Southern Hospitality Gone?

I live in the South. The DEEP south. Not Georgia, Tennessee or some other Southern state but I live in as far down as you can get without actually being in a coastal parish. I live in Southeastern Louisiana. Water is all around. We are shrouded in history, traditions, strange Napoleonic laws that no one quite understands but can't bear to get rid of. We have street names with 16 syllables. We built a city under water for crying out loud. We have Parishes, not Counties. We eat what doesn't eat us first and we fry it before we eat it. Music is in our blood. And we are hospitable.

Or so I thought.
What HAS HAPPENED TO YOU ALL, my fellow Louisianians?? We were more polite and caring to each other in the days following Hurricane Katrina than we are right now, when we should be rejoicing our city being rebuilt, our boys winning a Superbowl and the chance to wake up again each day!
Is it the economy? The murder rate (but really, that's not new people)? The heat? (It's almost fall!)
People are getting MEANER! Maybe it's just me, maybe I'm just noticing it more as my children grow I'm becoming more aware of the world they're coming up in.
Sure, we had bullies when I was a kid, but not at the alarming rate we have now. Yes, we had road rage, but again, not like we do now. There have always been rude people..but are there more now?
For instance, generally speaking, people waiting in grocery stores down here are all in the same setting of sheep being led to slaughter. We wait our turn, flip through rag magazines, and chit chat with our neighbors in line. But TWICE in the past two weeks my best friend told me about several very rude people in line. They made comments while she price matched, or while her baby said "mama" repeatedly, or even while she just had coupons!
Yes, no one wants to wait in line...we all have SUCH VERY IMPORTANT things to do, but really? To comment TO HER FACE in line? Is that REALLY necessary? I mean, obviously she doesn't want to be waiting in line with a talkative toddler either, but do you really think your snide remark will make it at all better?
This morning, I'm on my way to pick up her son to bring him to school with my two boys. I come to a stop and due to the sun visor and the blinding sun, at first I do not see another car at the sto,p so I start to proceed. I see her, hit the brakes and wave apologetically.
Oh no, that was not good enough for her....she had to gesticulate wildly, curse at me (yeah, honey, I could read your lips), and stop IN THE MIDDLE OF THE INTERSECTION to do all this.
It made me angry. It made me want to get out and yell at HER for her stupidity...then I, Amy, that would drop you down to her level. You would be making an example of the very rudeness you are complaining about right now!
So, I drove on, talked with my boys and said a prayer to God thanking him we didn't actually collide. And asking for continued patience to control my anger.
The best part? Chances are she works at the very school my boys go to because her car looked familiar and that is the time/route teachers take to school. Let's hope she controls that anger in the classroom.
We're all stressed, I get it. Times are hard. Economy sucks. Politics drive you batty. We can't change the very horrible things in life we want to change. We can't promise a better world for our children.
But you know what we can do? Change your attitude. "Be the change you want to see in the world." Ghandi is right. It's that simple. Yes, life can suck. But did you get up and drive your kids to school today and go on your merry way? Then be thankful. Did you forget to start the coffee this morning? Be glad you can swing by McD's and pick one up. Did you OPEN YOUR EYES? Say a prayer, someone didn't.
There are so many in this world who suffer horrendous injustices, even in our own rich, plentiful country. Children who don't eat, people dying of cancer, women being abused. These are all incredibly hard things to imagine. So, if for even a minute, your day is going bad, why don't you consider THOSE people?
Perhaps if you act more hospitable, kind, and loving to others, strangers and family alike, you will see the change Ghandi spoke of.
I'm not preaching to you all, I'm talking to myself too! I have to remind myself of these very things day in and day out. But, maybe, just maybe, if I say it enough...I will remember to be kind to others and they will return the favor.
To quote the very fabulous book, "The Help."

Let us stop disrespecting the blessings God has given us and let's search again for that Southern hospitality I KNOW we have in us.
I grew up in a time where school buses pulled over on the side of the road to let a funeral procession through. You removed your hat if you had one, you bowed your head and you did not utter a single word. The entire road did the same thing. Have you ever seen such a sight? The quiet respect as complete strangers stopped their world for 5 minutes to allow a grieving family to pass on their way to bury their loved one. THAT is southern hospitality and kindness that I know we have deep down. Maybe social networking and the media are making us callous. Maybe it's time to get back to what's real, what's right.
Ask yourself....
What would your MawMaw do??


This is a cross post on Real Housewives of NOLA.


Amy Bailes said...

The Southern Hospitality has gone because there aren't enough parents that still care to teach their children manners. It started up North and has slowly worked it's way down.

Do you remember hearing about a little boy that was found in New Jersey or somewhere up North? The news people said that he couldn't tell them where he was from but they knew it was from the South. Why? Because he had manners.

I've noticed that people are in such a hurry - let's get here. Oh no! We have to be over there, RIGHT NOW! Too many people think that they are the only person that counts, the only person that is of value and the only person that is worthy of respect. And by golly, they want that respect without doing anything to earn it.

Okay, I'm going to get off my soapbox. I'm just rambling anyway. ;-)

wlturland said...

Tell a dog he's a cat long enough and he will, one day, meow for you.

Folks all over this country stick their rude noses in our business all day long - proclaiming southerners to be stupid, backwards, and coarse. Is it any wonder that we're losing who we are?

Danyel said...

As a "northerner" (I'm from Chicago, currently living near Seattle) I'm slightly offended that we are all lumped into the "disrespectful" category. In fact, I've encountered more kindness and hospitality where I live in NW Washington than I did in the 2 years I lived in North Carolina. There are stereotypes for people everywhere... there are assholes in the north AND the south... and claiming that the people up north are spreading their lack of manners like some disease makes you a hypocrite.

Furthermore, if you want the people where you live to show more "southern hospitality" then start (or continue) leading by example. Teach your children some manners & be kind to others around you. (I didn't mean that directly to any of YOU... just "y'all" in general.)

Amy said...

Yes, it absolutely begins at home..>EVERYWHERE no matter where you're from. I guess I"m just ashamed of some of my folks around here because southern hospitality is known for a reason...when did we get so rude? I mean, people don't even pull over for Ambulances anymore!!!

Amy Bailes said...

Danyel - you are correct. I do apologize.

Danyel said...

Apology accepted. I'm sure you are a perfectly kind person... things like this just get people fired up.

I just wish everyone could just remember to be kind to each other. Which is pretty much what Amy D was saying...

Amy said...

It all boils down unto others as you'd have them do unto you, right??


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