I rode into work this morning, cheerful that it got down to 67 degrees last night. But it was still a sauna. To help stay positive about living in the South this time of year, I keep thinking that many people pay darn good money to spend time in heat and humidity, while I get it for free.
My ride reminded me of another benefit. Friendliness. On my ride in, I probably pass 10-15 people out for a walk and almost without fail, we exchange hearty hellos or good mornings. A soft, subtle nod does not cut it here. You have to look people in the eye, raise a hand, and project your voice so that there is no doubt whether you said good morning, hello, or hi. It gives me a sense of security knowing that I am not alone or anonymous, and I’d bet that if I stopped and exchanged names, the next time we’d greet each other by name. Most people are out walking a dog, so of course we’d ask the dog’s name, breed, and age so that next time we can ask how Snoopy is doing.
I remember the first time living out of the South when I moved to Columbus Ohio after undergrad. I would go out for a run and get strange looks when I said hello as I passed. I first thought it was that I was living in what was generously called a transitional neighborhood, but even after I moved to a nicer nabe, it remained the same. This trend followed me to the west coast, both in Oregon and California, so it is nice to be back to where at least on the surface you feel welcomed. Getting beyond the surface is the topic of another blog post.