I've got to say that other than dealing with the unbearable heat of the summer, it sure is nice to be back in Texas. Ok, so the scenery is not nearly as beautiful here as it is Pennsylvania, but the people sure are friendlier and the customer service is SO much better down here! What's funny is that I was born, raised, and went to college in Pennsylvania, so you'd think that I wouldn't have culture shock returning home. But I am always stunned at how rude people are in public and how unhelpful people are in grocery stores and whatnot whenever we go back to PA. Nobody waves hello from their cars or around the neighborhoods, people just look down as they walk past, nobody asks me if I'm finding everything alright in the store or if I need any help out to my car (heck, I had to bag my own groceries), if you ask someone for help they act like you're bothering them, and if the cashier starts talking, it's usually to another teenager across the aisle and not to you. I chuckled to myself as I read the standard note below one cashier's name tag which said, "I'm here to help you!" I wanted to ask, "But are you really?" I mean, really?!?
John and I noticed the service get better and the people get friendlier at every stop the farther south we drove on our way back to Texas. People start talking to you about just anything at gas stations, everyone from truck drivers to cashiers will coo at your babies and talk to your children, and customer service sounds more like, "Are you findin' everything alright?", "Is there anything else I can get you?", "Here, let me get that door for you.", "Y'all have a good day, now.", and, of course, "Y'all come back!" And yes, even the teenager cashiers and baggers will ask you these questions and help you and your children out to your car. I remember getting nutritional advice from the butcher at Albertson's when he noticed that I was pregnant. I asked him to help me find the ham hocks, and when he showed them to me he stopped and said, "You're making that dozen bean soup, aren't ya?...What you really need are these pork bones because they're much tastier, they've got more meat on 'em, and you need to be eatin' your protein." I found the whole conversation very endearing.
Yes, I've seen the joke lists of "you know you're from Texas if..."
- you pick your parking spot based on shade instead of distance
- you've ever burned your hand on your car door handle
- you start your car to cool it down instead of to warm it up
and on the list goes joking about the heat. All very true, but another equally true one that I've come to appreciate is, you know you're from Texas if you wave to people you don't know from your car. I remember the first time I came to Texas and John waved to someone as we drove out of his neighborhood. I asked, "Who was that?" and he said, "I don't know." "Then why did you wave to him?" "Because that's what you do."
Ha! Not where I come from! But after living in Texas for 8 years now, I wave and smile to perfect strangers without even thinking of it. So maybe it's hotter than a firecracker down here, but at least we can talk about it with the people in line at the store or the pharmacist, who will probably recommend a good sunscreen and then tell us to stay cool.