By Lee Scott
“Nancy Pong, you don’t know me!”
This was a line from a Jennifer Lopez movie, “The Wedding Planner.” The scene goes something like this: After having a few drinks too many, Mary, Jennifer Lopez’s character, realizes that she can’t find her keys and starts to buzz her neighbor’s buzzers to let her into the building. As she presses the button for Nancy Pong’s apartment, Mary admits to herself that Nancy doesn’t know her because she, Mary, is too busy to make friends with neighbors.
How many of us can relate? What stops us from introducing ourselves and greeting a neighbor? Mary’s excuse in the movie was because she was too busy.
When I moved onto my street, I was amazed at the number of friendly people who stopped and said hello. They dropped off cookies and flowers and made us feel welcomed. How nice to have neighbors who actually talk to you. What a great introduction to the South.
The practice doesn’t have to end with the neighbors on your street or in your building. You can extend it to others. I have started to talk to people in coffee shops and nurseries and other locations only to find that they know someone from my hometown or go to my church or live in my community. Just a simple “Hi, I am new to the area” has sparked stories of when people moved here and their experiences. It was amazing the number of people who then also recommended their church or service providers or other helpful tips.
It made me realize too that I had not been saying “hi” to people in my old hometown. I was not one of those residents who made small talk at the coffee shop. I was too busy, like Mary, to get to work. Too busy to make eye contact for fear someone would actually want to talk to me! It is no wonder that many Northerners are considered standoffish.
I don’t know if it is the warmth of the days that makes a difference in the South or just a calmer way of life, but I know that people seem friendlier here and because of it, I am friendlier. When I am shopping downtown and a tourist asks me a question, I make sure I take the extra moments to answer the questions and welcome them. Maybe it is one of the reasons people like to come back here to either visit or live — someone has stopped, looked into their eyes, and made contact with them, unlike Mary and Nancy Pong.
Lee Scott, a writer and recent retiree, shares her everyday observations about life after career. A former commercial banker responsible for helping her clients to reach their business objectives, Lee now translates those analytical skills to her writings. She recently moved to St. Helena Island with her husband and two cocker spaniels. She enjoys boating, traveling and reading.