It’s been almost a month since I blogged, and I feel bad about that. So while I’m *here and have some time, I thought I’d check in and share my thoughts.
By “here,” I mean Atlanta International Airport, on my way back to L.A. from Richmond Virginia. If anyone looks at a map, it’ll be apparent that Atlanta isn’t on the way from Richmond to L.A., but airline companies don’t view geography the way regular people do, so I’m in Atlanta for a few hours. And Atlanta is part of that strange, wonderful part of the country we call “The South.”
Overall, I kind of like The South. When I was in college, I had a chance to study abroad for a year, and by abroad, I mean Oklahoma. The cultural differences between The South and California were striking. (Although it’s odd, because Southern California is approximately the same latitude as Oklahoma, yet we’re not considered part of The South, even though our designation is “Southern” California. Again, I blame the airline companies for the faulty geography). Anyway, the differences were striking – the food, the traffic (they didn’t have any), and of course, the speech patterns, y’all. I was the crazy Californian who spoke too fast; they were the crazy Oklahomans/Other Southerners who spoke too slowly. And maybe one of the biggest differences – those people from The South were stinkin’ friendly.
Since returning to the United States after my year abroad in Oklahoma, I haven’t been to The South all that often – maybe a handful of times in the past few decades. The cities in The South are growing and getting busier, but the differences between The South and The Regular United States are still there, particularly the friendliness.
So as I’m writing this, I’m on my way back from spending 4 days near Richmond, Virginia. Virginia is part of The South, which is obvious by the speech patterns, the food, the cute little traffic situations, and of course – that friendliness again. All over the place. Like when I went to a place called Aunt Sally’s Pancake House, the server, an older lovely African American woman, called me “honey,” and when I left she didn’t just thank me, she told me to “be blessed.” Since she was an older lovely African American woman, she actually said, “Be bless,” but I took it upon myself to add the “ed.” By contrast, no one at the Starbucks I frequent tells me to be bless, or blessed. They scream, “TALL AMERICANO FOR CHARLEY,” and if they want to be nice, they mumble, “see you tomorrow.”
And this afternoon at a sandwich place/gas station called WaWa, the manager personally made my sandwich, and when he handed it to me he said thank you, which was to be expected, but it wasn’t a regular thank you. It was, “Thank you, I appreciate you now.” I was kind of surprised – he appreciated me. Me. Not only my money, but me personally. This guy was thankful for my very existence on the planet, a fact that I was eager to share with my friend when I got back to the car.
(By the way, although Virginia is actually NORTH of where I live in California, it’s still considered part of The South, whereas my city, which is technically South of Virginia, isn’t part of The South. Again, this may be more faulty mapmaking by airline companies).
So, there’s really no point to this meandering blog post, other than to say that while I’ll likely continue to live in Southern California for the foreseeable future, I’ve come to appreciate The South. Even though it doesn’t include Southern California (which I’ve come to terms with), and even though it doesn’t include Florida (which is way more south than any part of The South).
Oh, one more quick The South anomaly – I was a Southern Baptist many, many years ago, and I noticed that most Southern Baptists, EVEN IN ALASKA (definitely not part of The South, have southern accents. I never bothered to ask why – just one of those things).
Talk to y’all later. Thank you, and be bless.