Some people may have taken my previous posts the wrong way, thinking I am being overly critical of their country. I hope this post will prove that this is not the case. To tell you the truth, I love it here.
I have the wonderful privilege of living in the South. Some cultural differences are difficult for me to handle and some I have become very fond of. I have to say that my favorite thing about living here is the warmth and politeness of the people. I love it! No matter where you go out in public, there is bound to be someone who will greet you politely and ask you how you’re doing. It’s fantastic!
I used to live in Frankfurt, Germany. It is the financial capital of Europe, full of bankers and the likes. It may possibly be one of the most unfriendly places on earth. After having lived in the US for a while, I returned to my home town with a smile on my face. It was usually not returned. I'm quite sure some people thought I had lost it. I have gotten in the habit of excusing myself when passing someone at the supermarket and did the same in Germany. I confused a lot of people. The norm is to just push your way to wherever you need to go and then get back out as quickly as you can. So, at the grocery store, you may be looking at a particular shelf. Another person who does not wish to wait for you to finish looking will basically pop in between you and the shelf and get what they want. Not the politest, but that’s how it is.
Here in Columbia, people are just genuinely friendly. They will ask you how your day has been, comment on the cuteness of your baby, and send you off with a smile. It’s fantastic!
Even when Andy and I went to New York City, prepared for some major rudeness and gruff people, we were shocked by how friendly and forthcoming the people there were. I remember one particular instance in which we were sitting outside Rockefeller Center, just looking at a map of the city. An older couple approached us and asked us if we needed directions. What a kind gesture!
I can hear all my German friends already: But the friendliness is only superficial. So? To be quite frank, I couldn’t care less what the cashier at the store thinks about me. It’s not like I’m trying to marry him/ her. I want him or her to be friendly and bag my stuff for me, then wish me a nice day. (Grocery stores in Germany don’t have baggers- you have to do it all yourself. And pay for the bags…) At the store I used to go to most frequently in Germany, the cashier would always tell me that she couldn’t wait to get off work and that she had a headache. Nobody wants to hear that.
Americans are wonderfully polite people. Southerners are the masters of politeness. I thoroughly enjoy it and am trying to learn how to be more like them. I can now almost convincingly ask “How are y’all doin' today?”