Sunday, November 26, 2006

People of the South

My dad just got back from a European mini-tour; he drove back from Germany to Romania, and thus got to cross Germany, Austria, and Hungary. My sister (who has seen these countries before) asked what shocked him the most in his travels. He said, in all these countries, what was a general shock was the fact that people are so cold! He said, nowhere could he feel free to just … open his mouth to make small talk and just ask about the weather! He said he felt lonely abroad, and thus happy to be back home. I remembered that he never felt lonely when he visited me; actually, he wanted to stay here, and never return home!
We, Romanians, love to chat! And not being able to carry conversations with complete strangers at least about the weather is crippling to us! It’s a personal offense, like those people don’t “want” us in their world; we are “not welcome”, we are not “good enough” for them?!. And THAT is just hurtful! We love to share, to ask, we’re nosy, we’re friendly, we love to hear about your day! My sister lives in Canada, and she commented to dad’s disappointment: “well, dad, this is the West, in general, for you! People are cold here, in Canada, too. Very much so! The only place on the planet that I have seen so far, where people are welcoming and warm and friendly is the American South. Only there complete strangers will ask you how you are and ask your opinion about the weather”.
And I have to completely agree with her. I have traveled Europe, North America, and some of Eastern Asia and I have to agree: only in the American South people do make small talk to you! Not that I like it ALL the time! Some days, I want to just read my trashy magazine, thank you very much, rather that tell you about my failed marriage and my ex-boyfriends and my canceled plans for the weekend, so you can bask in the self-righteous “boy, she’s SUCH a loser” at the end of my monologue. But it’s true: when in a room with strangers or in an elevator, here in the South, you can bet on one thing always: there will NEVER be a thick silence with embarrassing starings at the ceilings! Oh, they won’t necessarily CARE, but that’s NOT going to stop them from ASKING! And we’re people, not solitary islands, out there in the Pacific, with no hope to ever meeting! We want the human touch and our most distinguished capability from animals is the ability to speak, and communicate through an articulate language. So, I think we all are designed to “keep in touch” and bridge the individualities that we are! It’s a human trait that most of the world seems to forget about nowadays, in our speed-driven lives.
And you know, for a Romanian like me, who loves to talk, and share her life, coming from a completely alone 4 day weekend, on Monday morning, that kind of chit-chat is MORE than welcome!
One more reason to be grateful for where I ended up living! (Thank you, ex-husband!) You gotta be grateful for the small things… and small talk, for that matter…:-)

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