5.13.2010

Northerners vs. southerners

I know there's a big deal made about northern vs. southern stereotypes. Before I moved up to the northeast, a shocking number of people warned me that the people up there would be coldhearted and impolite. So I braced myself.

Now...maybe I've had low expectations over the past two years, but I've never experienced any unkindness by ANYONE in DreamSchool city. And I'm in a big, fast-moving city — where you'd "expect" people to fit the northerner stereotype.

Last Wednesday illustrates perfectly just how wrong stereotypes can be. Last Wednesday was when I packed up and came back to Texas for the summer — and y'all, after I posted this post I started crying and could. not. stop.

I cried as I left my dorm. I bawled as I hugged my roommates goodbye. And once I got on the subway to go to the airport...oh, y'all, it was the full-on UGLY cry. Like...nose running, eyes dripping, chest-heaving, gasping-for-breath sobs. IN PUBLIC.

(Now? I'm mortified. Then? I couldn't have cared less.)

As I rode the subway, clutching two large heavy suitcases, a large purse, a laptop bag, a sweater, and a neck pillow, all the while crying like I'd never be coming back, I was approached by a middle-aged woman.

She leaned up next to me and said, "I noticed you're having a hard time. Is there anything I can do?"

Through my gasping sobs I reassured her that I was okay, just really sad. She stood next to me for the rest of the subway ride.

I had to switch trains, and when I got on the next one, I was standing next to a man. I could feel him watching me, so I tried to tone down the waterworks (which, um, failed).

He kindly smiled at me, and said, "I can't help but notice your suitcase tag says Texas on it. My daughter lives there, and I was there recently." He kept me engaged (and distracted) for the rest of the ride.

When I got to the airport, I had mostly stopped crying (for the time being). I was planning on checking my huge suitcase and taking my smaller suitcase on the plane with me. But it was packed too big to fit in the overhead compartment — so I'd have to check both suitcases. That'd cost me $110 total. Effing ridiculous.

The sweet lady behind the ticket counter saw my tear-streaked face and swollen eyes, and said, "Oh, honey, is everything okay?"

I told her that I was just really sad to be leaving the city and my roommates for four months. She gently nodded, and said, "I tell you what. I'm not going to charge you for your second bag. I'll just charge you for your big suitcase and the overweight fee."

I could have kissed her. I'm not even kidding. Not only her kindness but the fact that I was saving $35 bucks made me cry happy-grateful tears. (Which then spurred sad tears later on because hi, hormones! But we're not going to talk about that.)

My point is...the people I've encountered in all the major northern cities I've been to have been so, so nice. I hate the stereotypes that exist saying northerners are rude. If anything, perhaps the fact that they're stereotyped as rude makes them a bit grumpy :)

1 comment:

Evil Angel said...

Thank you for this.
I was born and lived the first part of my life as far north as the US goes(all be it on a reservation), then lived my teens and twenties in the Northern Midwest. So I am by southern standards a northerner. Though my being Native the Southerners I'm around have learned not to dare call me a Yankee or we'll have words.


I am married to the most amazing man who was born and raised so deep in the south that any farther and you'd hit ocean.

We live in the south and have lived in 3 different southern states and I'm sad to sad that some of the southern stereotypes I was hoping for I've yet to experiance. The first very Southern state the people were cold and disconected and fit more the stereotype NY has been given. The second southern state we lived in I guess no one explained Southern hospitality to that area.
The southern state we live in now has much nicer people, not very stereotypical at all. It's a small town and the community is not at all the southern small town stereotype. Actually I feel very at home here.

It just shows that people are different everywhere and assumptions are a waste of time.