I'm in TN. It's cold. Not as cold as the freezer I normally abide in, but nevertheless, it is cold. My daughter was shivering yesterday as she asked me if it was as cold in South Dakota as it was here. She of course knew the answer. She's been to South Dakota. She was there last January and told me that it was the coldest she had ever been. She hasn't been back since.
I am here because I have class on Saturday. My last class of the semester will include the first introduction to our Statistics teacher. I'm dreading that. I'm dreading that more than the snow that will fly while I am taking that class. I keep telling myself that I'm reasonably smart and that although math has always been my nemesis, I can do this. I have panic attacks at the sight of an equation that includes a square root symbol, an x or a y. I have glaze over every time we talk of research methods in class. I think it's going to be a long hard winter, in more ways than one.
Hopefully the winter in Tennessee will be mild and I will find a reprieve from the weather here often. I may have to be here for the month of February as I have two classes that month. And it's a short month! Maybe I'll have more experiences like the one I had last night.
Rather than tell you again about my experiences in the grocery store or at Wal-Mart in South Dakota, let me tell you about the experience at Publix last night. For those of you not familiar with southern grocery chains, here we have several. One is Publix which is probably my favorite although a bit more expensive. We also have Kroger and Harris Teeter. Nashville is fully blessed to have Trader Joe's and Whole Foods as well. I used to think shopping at Whole Foods was too expensive, that was until I went to Pomegranates in Sioux Falls the other day. YIKES!!!
I didn't want to go to the store. I was tired. I had things on my mind. But we needed a few things and needed to eat at home instead of out. I picked up eggs and veggies and bread. Standard fare. I was turning an aisle by the frozen food and it happened. While it wasn't a near collision, it was close. This very pleasant woman pushing her "buggy" (a southern term for a grocery cart - a term I refuse to make part of my vocabulary). She smiled! She smiled so nicely. I smiled back. We went on about our business. I called my husband at home and said you'll never guess what happened. This woman and I had a brief exchange of pleasantness in Publix. It was such a big deal to me that I had to share it. Just like I'm sharing it with you.
I got to the check out. The young man, looked like he was still in High School had evidently been taught manners. He asked the standard, did you find everything you needed? I said yes, thank you. He said EXCELLENT! and smiled. He went on to ask me how my day had been. This was 9:30 p.m. He must have been up at 6 a.m. to get to school on time. He'd no doubt dealt with the hassles and stress of High School algebra - yes, I'm thinking about math again. Nothing could be more stressful than Algebra - you know I managed to even get out of taking College Algebra but there's no getting out of statistics.
Back to the grocery store --- as he made a little bit of small talk with me - not a lot, just enough to let me know that he saw me as a human being, I thought how different is this? Then he asked the question that no one wants to hear. He said, are you eligible for our senior discount? They give a senior discount on Wednesdays. I said how old do you have to be? He told me. I sighed a sigh of relieve and said, no I'm not,. He gave it to me anyway and I saved 5% on the order. Maybe it won't be so bad and I'll get used to just saying yes, I am eligible. I have put in the years after all.
What was strange about the whole thing was that I wasn't the least bit offended or upset at the question. The kid was so nice and polite. He was right, I am close to that age.
As I left the store, I clicked on the radio to listen to Dr. Asa On Call. There was this man calling about his wife. It was the sweetest thing I'd heard in a long time. A gruff but very southern sounding truck driver was calling about his 47 year old wife who was fainting. He said it scared the crap out of him. He said he was "fixin" to do something and she just falls over. He used every colloquial southern phrase and it was delightful. What was most delightful was his concern for his wife. In it's own way, it was another southern experience of care and concern. It warmed my heart to know that a Bubba can really show a soft side
So is this just another rambling of Joyce about the wonders of Tennessee compared to my angst about living in South Dakota? No, I have a point here. It's Christmas time. It is a time where the difference between pleasantness and politeness verses rudeness and refinement can make all the difference in your day. I am going to remember MY manners even when people don't show any and make my own happiness and pleasantness the next time I meander the aisles of the Brookings HyVee or the Brookings Wal-Mart. Maybe you should do the same. We'd all be happier for it.