More…On Being Nice


Cows. Entirely unrelated.

My college boyfriend was from upstate New York and he was both baffled and annoyed by the southern tendency to talk to everyone. About anything. All the time. He couldn’t understand why the grocery store cashier asked him how he was dong — and appeared genuinely interested. While he found it odd, even irritating, I’d say it’s one of the best things about living here. People do care. People are interested. And people are polite.

Today I dropped into the gas station across the street from my office. It’s in a questionable part of town and it’s frequented by, well, not the types of people that live, uh, here. It’s quaint, owned by an Indian husband and wife. They got the good stuff — Little Debbie snacks, Fritos, soda, Boone’s Farm. I go for cigarettes and a Diet Coke. There’s a young African American chick behind the bulletproof (Maybe? Or maybe its just glass. I don’t know. Whatever.) glass and I ask her for a pack of Marlboro Light Menthols. She gives them to me through the slot in the window and tells me she likes my car. I laugh, and say that yeah, I like it too, but I don’t like the payments and it’s going back in April.

A conversation began. I was in a hurry to get home, but I stayed and we chatted.

She had gotten her son a Cadillac four wheeler for Christmas last year. Turns out he’s also three. We talk about having only children, their feelings of entitlement, our responsibility to not give in to everything they want. I tell her that until the Kaiser poops in the toilet, he’s getting no new toys. She laughs. She tells me about decorating her son’s room for his birthday, covering the walls with colorful car wallpaper. We laugh.

And maybe it is odd. To have a ten-minute conversation through glass with a complete stranger. But I left feeling better, and I hope she came away from our conversation feeling good-ish too.

It’s the tiny, perhaps inconsequential, every-day interactions that make life meaningful. The little moments between the big events that help shape who we are, what we’re becoming. So yeah. Listen. Be open. Yada.

Peace, Love, and Gas Stations.



Filed under Buddhism, Raising Kids

11 responses to “More…On Being Nice

  1. Um, I live near Philadelphia. We don’t have conversations like that. Though my wife’s sister, when visiting from Arkansas, tried to talk to everyone too, with some success. Weird. Totally not my style.

    Maybe if I lived in the south, I’d come out of my cranky shell, huh? 🙂

  2. BTW, I like the tag “love people and stop being a douche” (though the douchebags taking it back vid you linked the other day was hysterical)!

  3. Dan

    Sounds like a book. Conversations through bullet proof glass.

  4. Patrick

    A friend’s girlfriend moved here to Alabama from NOLA and was worried that the amicability of the girl at the Wal-Mart checkout meant that she was hitting on her.

  5. Patrick

    Incidentally, the clerk asking your boyfriend “how he was dong” could have, in fact, been a come-on.

  6. Jonathan

    When I lived in Ithaca, NY (my first foray into the land of frozen tundra since I was eight) in my early twenties (eeek, did I just say that) I had that experience. In particular, I even remember talking to people in the grocery store line and they looked at me like I was insane. One lady even asked “do I know you?” in that tone that really said “is there a reason you are talking to me?”

    I have never been so happy to move as I was to move back south – and as soon as my lease was up that’s exactly what I did.

    • sarafraser

      I can’t even imagine. OK, I can. I would cry if someone treated me like that. I like to talk to strangers, damn it. I do. And they better like talking back.

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