Monday, February 17, 2014

Topic Tuesday - Differences in Locale

This week’s Topic Tuesday is about experiencing the differences in localities that have been visited. The questions are, have you ever traveled somewhere and been struck by the differences between there and where you live or lived? What were they? Good? Bad? Why did they leave an impression on you?
This is an interesting topic, more so because of comments from both my son, and my sister.
We grew up in a small town in Mid-Missouri. Columbia is dubbed “College Town USA” because of the number of colleges located there. There are 21 colleges near or in Columbia, including the University of Missouri.
So, based on that, you would think that Columbia is full of college aged individuals, distracted with parties and their academics, and not particularly friendly, right? Wrong.
At a young age, my sister and I moved out of Missouri, first to Colorado for a short time, then to Arizona, and my sister moved on to California. We learned to be independent. We grew up. We experienced a culture that was vastly different, both in the general temperament and the way human beings treated each other.
People, as a mass, are not friendly in Arizona or California. They are rushed, rude and disagreeable. I would have chalked this up to me living in the Phoenix area, therefore a very large city versus a small town, but my sister experienced much the same in the smaller city she lived in north of Los Angeles.
Over time, we got used to the way people were and acclimated to the lack of basic politeness and compassion. It became the norm. I raised my son in an atmosphere of worry over gangs, drugs and disrespect. Not a good place to raise children.
Then—we moved back to our home town.
We were nearly in culture shock at the difference. People here are friendly, accommodating and kind. They offer help and greetings without thought of anything in return. They are happier, and more relaxed here.
My sister called once to tell me of a cashier at a store where she and her husband were gathering the tools and materials to strip their wall-paper from the walls of their house. The cashier gave them tips without being asked. My sister joked about having the woman come over and help. Much to my sister’s surprise, the woman was amiable, told them to call her anytime with any questions and was more than willing to come by their house and help, without any thought of compensation. My sister’s comment? “This would never happen in Arizona or California!”
I cannot count the number of times my son has commented on how “nice people are in Missouri.” He’s used to the big city. To course and impolite. To abrasive and unconcerned. For people to be nice, to have compassion and to care is something very new to him, and something I had forgotten from my past.
I am glad I moved back—came home. I much prefer my son here, in an atmosphere of humanity where he can learn that it’s right to be kind and considerate and to care about your fellow human being. And I can rest assured that my son will learn this valuable lesson where he would not have in the Southwest.

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