Monday, July 11, 2005
Last week, in celebration of the independence of our great land from the tyranny of taxation without representation, I went hiking and camping on the Appalachian Trail with my two brothers along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. We witnessed there the most majestic vistas east of the Rockies and met some colorful folk from all over the country. Now, I've known plenty of people from West Coast and the Midwest. It was the contact with the Southerners that proved a real eye opener. And not just on the trail, where the people one meets are not apt to be representative of the population at large, but in the stores and on the streets.
All protestations to the contrary, before last week, I had nurtured an image of my southern brothers and sisters as racist, uneducated, loutish, and dangerous. I imagined they would blow my Yankee ass to kingdom come with their ubiquitous shotguns as soon as look at me.
Yes, I've meekly ventured into the south before: once to New Orleans (hardly representative, I think), and once to Charlotte. But I was still afeared of those durned southern folk.
Well, after a week, I am no longer afeared. I can't tell you their general education level, prediliction toward racism, or whether they really do all own guns, but I can tell you this: Those southern people may well wish to blast me with their twelve-gauges, but they're so danged nice, I think I'd take a belly full of shot with a warm "thank you kindly." Compared to New Yorkers, the people of Tennessee and North Carolina practically emanate a saintly glow. Cashiers, waitresses, passing strangers, they're all nice. Compare this to NYC, where no one will look at you except to ask for money, and the service at stores is indifferent at best.
I am left to ask: What are they so happy about? I thought they lost the war. And why are we such dicks in the north?