Every place I have lived, which includes: Baltimore; Chicago; Charleston, WV; Dayton, OH; Richmond, VA and Verona, NJ – have all been great; have all had its good and its bad; and, all have some peculiarities of place and people.
Now, like I said, I do love the people here, and, please do not take this as a complaint, but you do have your own peculiarities, as well. The one that strikes me as the oddest is the way you have of just coming and going without saying “Hello” or “Goodbye”.
I have found the people in the Pacific Northwest to be very nice, very cordial and very polite. You have some of the most courteous and cordial drivers I have ever seen – sometimes, so much so that it becomes annoying. You merge over as soon as you see the first Lane Closure sign when there is still 3 miles of open lane ahead of you. You can sit at a four way stop for minutes upon minutes trying to let the other cars go first. You don’t edge up in the intersection when the light is green to be able to make that left hand turn when the yellow light stops oncoming traffic, and will do that through a full cycle of the green light. Very nice, very polite and very annoying!
I have found everyone I meet to be friendly and polite. But … you knew there was going to be a but … you don’t really openly embrace people in your inner circle. You are nice and friendly, face to face, but you are not likely to invite a new acquaintance over to your house or out for dinner or to a backyard barbeque.
When I found a job in this area, and yes, my wife and I looked for one here on purpose for a chance to relocate to the Pacific Northwest, I was greeted with happy, smiling faces, but then sat in my office through lunch waiting for someone to take the new guy from New Jersey out to lunch. Didn’t happen. Finally, at about 3:00 I asked the Admin Assistant where I might find a local restaurant. Odd, I thought. I lived out of a hotel room for six months while my wife stayed back east to sell our home. Not one invitation out for drinks after work. Not one invite over to dinner or for a weekend barbeque. Nice, friendly people at work. Great work relationships being developed. Nice, new friendly acquaintances, but no embracing. That’s okay, I thought, it will happen.
But, I also noticed, most people at work didn’t seem to have much of a social, outside the office relationship with their co-workers. I noticed, it wasn’t so much that I was excluded from these types of social events; they just didn’t seem to occur. It is like everyone feels they already have enough friends and family and have no more room for anyone else in their inner circle. Odd.
Now we are more acclimated to our new surroundings. We have some close friends in which we have wiggled our way into their inner circles. And, we have bonded with other folks that have relocated here and noticed the same type of behavior from the natives.
But I still notice the odd way that people have of coming and going without saying “Hello” or “Goodbye”. I regularly play volleyball at the Y on Mondays and Wednesdays. Regular players come and go each night without a greeting or a so long. I just find that funny. There are some folks here who have apparently known each other for many, many years. They waltz in, play volleyball, and leave when they are done. No, “Hey, how are you”; no “Good night, see you later.”
Same is true with a few other regular events I attend. Good, close friends, walk in the room unnoticed and leave the meeting straight out the door. Odd.
And, of course, I cannot end without mentioning the RSVP behavior. As we try to get to know more people and as my wife loves to entertain, friends and strangers alike, we have organized a few of our own get-togethers. You know … if the mountain won’t come to Mohammad … We send out e-mails or formal invitations to things like dinner parties, back-yard barbeques, football get-togethers, birthday parties, and the such and ask for an RSVP to help us know how many people to plan for. Replies? Are you kidding? Hardly a peep is heard. Then people show up or not. Bring others or come alone. Odd.
In most of my life’s travels, I understand that not everyone will reply to an RSVP. But, until moving here, it was a pretty safe assumption that a non-reply was the same as a regret. Here, you can invite an individual; ask for a headcount; hear nothing in return; and, they will show up with five others in tow. You’ve just got to laugh.
Again … not a complaint … just an observation. In fact, now that I am used to it, I wouldn’t want you to be any other way; it is what makes you unique and one of the reasons why I love it here in the Pacific Northwest. Just don’t be offended if I say “Hello” the next time we meet … I don’t mean to impose … that is just one of my peculiarities.