The publishing house I work for, B&H, is based in Nashville. That's the South, right? And what do you think of when you think of Nashville?
*24-syllable words (the same words that in other states are one syllable..."Waaayyyyllll, how 'bout thaaaayaaat?"
What I DON'T think of is the very thing that met me as I walked out of the office around 7:30 to jump in my car and go visit that electronic mecca (which we don't have in my town), Best Buy...
Not just snow, but heavy flakes pummeling the earth with total glee and abandon.
I texted a Southern friend: "What gives?? I thought this was the South!"
Her reply: "Be careful out there. Us Southerners don't know how to drive in snow."
Thus forewarned, I set Best Buy firmly on the back burner and headed back to the hotel. I'm not crazy about driving in snow. (Back home in Oregon the snow is far more well behaved. Stays up in the mountains rather than invading the valley floor.) But after living in the Chicago area for 20 years, I can do it. With my friend's warning ringing in my mind, I watched the drivers around me. A couple crept along like snails with a sprained back. A few sailed on by like the roads were dry as dust--either that or they're part cat and have spare lives in the wings. But most of them drove with care. What's more, I saw drivers being courteous to each other, leaving plenty of room between cars and letting folks merge without crowding them.
I stopped at Hardees (something else we don't have back home) and got my dinner. As the young man at the window took my money, he thanked me for coming by. He must have seen the surprise on my face, because he went on: "It's a bad night, so it means a lot that you came to visit us." I smiled, and he handed me my bag with a "Be careful out there, Miss. Get yourself home safe." (The fact that he called me "Miss" and not "Ma'am" made my smile even bigger!)
I sighed my relief when I got to the hotel. As I slushed my way to the door I felt my paradigm shift.
The South IS sunshine and flowers and all that...part of the year. And it's snow and cold and ice in the winter. But there's something you can count on year round: folks do what they can to be kind and helpful to each other. I've seen it over and over. That underlying courteous nature that leaves you feeling like even strangers care that you're around.
That's really, really nice. And that, my friends, is the South.