Monday, November 7, 2011
The Milkman, The Paperboy...
There's this book I read where a British family visits America for the first time. They're in Tennessee and everyone at the hotel keeps smiling at them and telling them to "have a nice day." The daughter leans in to her friend and whispers, "What do they WANT?"
I always laughed at this. Oh, BRITISH PEOPLE. They just don't understand. Har har, hoo hee ha hem.
And now I am one of them.
I don't know if it's too early to be making sweeping generalizations about the people of a city, but I'm going to do it anyway: people in San Francisco are disconcertingly nice.
The lady at the fruit market struck up a whole conversation with me about how gorgeous the pomegranates were. The girl checking my I.D. at the grocery store asked me how Chicago was because she wanted to see snow. The waiter at the highly-praised, Southern comfort, deserves-to-be-snotty restaurant wasn't snotty.
But these weren't people who were gunning for tips. You ever had one of those waiters or waitresses that is SO nice and smiley and eye contact-y that you consider tipping them LESS for it? Those are not the people of San Francisco. They are legitimately nice. Either that, or they are just infinitely better actors than Chicagoans.
Is it something in the water? Maybe. It is pretty good water. Is it the weather? I mean, it doesn't get too cold in the winter, but you'd think the fog and constant need for layers would make people a little more surly.
Or maybe it's because it's a city of transplants. Everyone is here because they CHOSE to be here, and you just can't be too crabby when you've chosen to live in a pink stucco apartment on a hill overlooking the ocean.
OR! Maybe it's just that Chicago is a lot more hardened of a city than I thought. I always claimed that we were the city with Midwestern kindness and sensibilities. But we're kinda just another city that ignores you on the elevator and doesn't make eye contact when you hand over your credit card. We're a city that doesn't care much for pedestrians and forces them to play real-life Frogger.
All I know is, I've been surprised daily by people being a lot more kind and helpful than I've been prepared for. I'm going to get auditory whiplash for all the times my ears have done double-takes.