Fridays Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South
You have heard people talk about "Southern Hospitality," but I have seen it first-hand for the last few years living down here in the South. To tell you the truth, I always thought it was a phrase invented by Hollywood for the movies, but there really is such a thing.
Southern Hospitality isn't just something you find when visiting some home of a rich farmer or the local judge, you find it almost every place you go. People in the South are polite. It doesn't matter if they are black or white, rich or poor, from the city or live in a rural area, they are all pretty much nice to you when you meet them.
Here was a real surprise for me. Now that I have moved to Madison County, Florida, I have had to deal with people at the county court house form time to time. I had to register to vote, file my homestead for taxes, get building permits, and get a new driver's license. No matter which office or what person I have had to deal with, I have always left in a good mood. I know this sounds strange, but the people at the Madison County Court House are there to serve you, and they try as hard as they can to make whatever you are doing as easy as they can.
First off, they smile when you walk in the door, and they ask what they can do for you. Then they actually listen, and almost apologize if you are at the wrong place. If you are at the wrong office, they will tell you where you have to go, and whom to ask for when you get there. Many times when you thank somebody for their help, they answer with, "It is my pleasure." Now how nice is that, and how many times has that happened to you in a government office?
When Wanda and I moved to rural Madison County, we started looking for a church to attend. At every church we went to, people were very welcoming, and that happens at almost any church you go to any place in this country, but here in the South, I have had people say to me, "I sure hope our church is right for you, but if it isn't, I pray you find the one that is." No pressure, just people sincerely hoping you find the right place to worship and serve the Lord.
Now I know some people have their doubts about me, after all, I am a Yankee in their eyes, or I should say in their ears. I don't sound a bit like I was raised down here, and even though I tell them I have been working on this Minnesota accent for decades to get it just right, for some reason, they don't buy my claim of a Southern Heritage. However, when I tell them that my wife is from Lower Alabama, and that she was born and raised in Pensacola, they say, "Well then you aren't half as bad as I thought." They say that with a smile.
I know the people I lived with in Northern Minnesota were just as polite as the people here in the South have been, but I don't know if they were as welcoming. And sorry to say, a trip to the Court House was never a pleasant experience up North.
Southern Hospitality is real, and I discovered it sure makes living down here nice.
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