We’re not actually saying that. (YET!)
Now, I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘Southern Hospitality’ recently. And I never thought I was the shy type with people, but it turns out I am…..to begin with anyway!
The mini As have always been sooooo embarrassed whenever I stop to chat with complete strangers. It doesn’t matter to me who it is: a cashier, the Big Issue seller, the lady in the queue with me or a little kid having a tantrum! When the mood strikes, I’ll speak to anyone really! But my two just think I’m a weirdo! (Yay….one point to me!)
Yet when Angus and I first came to Houston in January to do our recce….we walked into the hotel lift after breakfast and before we’d even had a chance to turn around, we heard someone say, “How y’all doin’?” (Are they speaking to us? Please God, don’t let them be speaking to us! But there’s no-one else in the lift. They ARE speaking to us!) “Oh! Fine thank you,” I mumbled incoherently whilst turning slowly, looking at the floor, managing a quick (very quick) glance up and, to make it so much worse, blushing! We felt uncomfortable……and British! What were we supposed to do now? Strike up a conversation with this person we’d never met before? NOOOOO! So we looked awkwardly around at suddenly very interesting things like the gap between the mirrors! (But actually, thinking back, it was really nice that we were acknowledged!) It was our first experience of the infamous ‘Southern hospitality’.
I just looked it up on Wikipedia and officially
Southern hospitality is a phrase used in American English to describe the stereotype of residents of the Southern United States as particularly warm, sweet and welcoming to visitors to their homes, or to the South in general.
And welcoming they certainly are!
I thought about what we’re like in the UK. In Cornwall, for example, when we’re out dog walking along the cliffs, every time we passed another person we’d all say “Good Morning” or “Good afternoon” to each other. (Cornwall’s in the South!) Then I remember an ‘experiment’ a friend and I did walking in London a while ago. We decided to pretend we were in Cornwall and say “Good morning” to everyone we passed on the street to see what would happen. Well, most people completely ignored us! Some gave us a ‘you’re odd and definitely not to be trusted’ look. But one older gentleman tipped his hat and replied “Good morning to you too!” Just ONE!
Coming back to Texas, we’ve definitely found this hospitality evident all over the place:
On the road around our neighbourhood people who are walking wave at us as we drive past them, or as they drive past us if we’re walking. So we all dutifully smile and wave back (sideways glancing at each other and asking “Who’s that?” “Don’t know!”) People around here just seem to wave at people passing by!
Even the traffic system portrays some of this hospitality. When we come to a crossroad everyone has to stop. The person who reached the crossroad first, goes first. Everyone takes it in turns. It’s almost as if people are motioning with their hand and saying, “Please, you go first.”
Then in shops, whenever you ask a question, all answers have a ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’ at the end. And if a person walks in front of you in a supermarket whilst you’re decision making at a shelf, they always say “Oh, excuse me” like they’re really putting you out!
This politeness happens on the school run too…..with teenage boys! When I first met one of Archie’s new friends, whatever I asked him was replied with a ‘Yes Ma’am’ or ‘No, Ma’am’ at the end. After a few days Archie told his friend he didn’t have to say ‘Ma’am’ any more, to which the boy seemed quite lost, as if to say, “But it’s what one does”.
Back to our neighborhood; there’s a sweet seven year old girl living opposite who’s taken to calling me ‘Miss Yasemin’. It’s apparently a respectful and familiar address to someone older, regardless of age or marital status. I have to say, I like this the most! It’s just sooooo charming!
Finally, there is, of course, the infamous ‘Have a nice day’ comment. Yup, people do say it a lot here. And it does seem that they’re mostly on auto pilot. But what a great auto pilot to have! It’s not something one does here. It’s just the way one is.
I think there’s every chance we may just become nicer people here! On the outside anyway! I’m certainly going to give it a go! (Watch this space!)
In the meantime, I really do hope you have a nice rest of your day!
PS: I haven’t actually heard this word yet but I like it…..and may just have to adopt it!