A lot of people have the misconception that NYC is a place full of rude people. That is partially true. The cab drivers smoke when you ask them not to, talk on the phone while driving, blast horrible music and grunt at you, store clerks never say thank you, barristas yell at you for not knowing EXACTLY what you want the second you step up to the register, and waiters often glare at you for making special requests when ordering food. However, the NYC I knew was also full of very kind people. The guy at the Italian deli across from our apartment gave us free food the day we brought Dean home from the hospital. Uncle Louie at the Italian restaurant knew my voice when I called for take-out. The chef at the Chinese restaurant down the block knew that Marcus liked bean sprouts in his fried rice, so she always threw in a few extra for him. People spoke to us on the street. If I struck up a conversation on a subway platform or in a store, the othe person would usually speak back.
I tell you all this because one of the things I was really excited about when we moved back to the south was how polite the people are. I have memories of growing up in a slow-paced place where everyone from the post office clerk to the man at the gas station knew my name and talked to me each time I went there. People spoke on the street and waved when you let them pull out in front of you.
My, how some things have changed. (NOTE: The south is still a wonderful, warm place almost all the time. However, some days, things like this happen...)
This morning, I took Dean to the library to get some new reading material, play with the puzzles and maybe, just maybe, meet some other moms and kids. The children's section was packed. There were 7 or 8 kids playing and reading and two moms about my age sitting at one of the tables talking. I smiled at them and said "Hi" as we approached, then started helping Dean put a puzzle together. A little boy who was exactly Dean's size came up and started playing with us. I spoke to him and we even read a few books together. Then suddenly, the litle boy ran to the stacks, swept all three shelves of books onto the floor and climbed to the top of the bookcase. As nicely as I could I said "Oh, goodness, where's your mommy?" No volunteers. After asking loudly 3 times "Who's this boy's mom?" I grabbed him before he flung himself to the floor, only to realize he had a rank-smelling poopy diaper. I'm talking the kind that's been sitting for a while. (Moms, you know what I"m talking about.) Still, no mom surfaced. The two women at the kiddie table were still talking, never looking up to see what the 8 kids, who all seemed to belong to them, were up to. I heard one of them exclaim "I have to paint the nursery before I get much more pregnant with this child because it is absolutely unacceptable." The other concurred. I went about my business of picking up after Dean, who found a huge puzzle containing approximately 500 pieces, all in the shape of bees, and looking for books. I overheard one of the women say "Yeah, people with ONLY CHILDREN don't get it. They barely qualify as mothers. Hahahahahahahhaahhaahaha." Not even a "bless their hearts." DUDE. I quickly gathered up my toddler and our books about sheep on a ship, gorillas on a space shuttle and various Eric Carle stories and high-tailed it to the checkout counter.
As I was pulling out my library card, I heard the grandmother in front of me telling the clerk, "Yeah, these are our grandsons. This one's really good, but the other one must have some learning disability. It's really hard for me to take him anyplace. I keep telling him he can't read these books to himself, so I'm not getting them for him any more. He's a lot of trouble." OH. MY. DEAR. LORD. GOD. IN. HEAVEN. Please give him to me to adopt right now. RIGHT NOW! Because if that's the best you can do? That's SAD.
I don't expect people to come out of the woodwork to be friendly to us when we go out, but c'mon people. A quick smile or a "hello" or a "gee, thanks for saving my toddler's life when he tried to kamikaze jump off the bookcase" isn't too much to ask. I'm sure I've ignored kind people before, but I hope I've never done anything so bad that someone had to go home and blog about it.
So next time someone smiles at you in the store, take a second and smile back and say "hi." (Pronounced "Hah" if you're me.) Who knows? You might meet someone fabulous.