October 15, 2004

Curious Regional Habits George The neighborhoods posts got me thinking about how various regions/cities/neighborhoods have changed my perceptions and behaviors. [more inside]

For instance, I've experienced time very differently in different places. When I lived in Northern Virginia and Chapel Hill, Carolina, I expected things (commutes, exchanges in shops, whole days) to last longer than I did when I lived in Boston or now in NYC. I handle money differently in NYC, too. Because of the pressure of long lines behind me and the foot-tapping impatience (my own and others) I never take the time to dig out exact change--opting to hand over a bill and receive change instead (which is why I have four quart jars full if silver in my office). What have you noticed about your own habits in relation to your location?

  • Ignore the double [more inside], please. I'll get the hang of it someday.
  • When I lived in suburban Richmond Hill, the commute to downtown Toronto took 90 minutes. Music helped me pass the time on subway/bus. My interest in music reached its peak. Now that I live in the city and the commute is under 30 minutes, I read Metro Toronto to pass the time. Music isn't as important to me anymore.
  • Ignore the double [more inside], please. ...I will as soon as my head stops chorusing "More insiii-iii-iiide, more inside, more inSIDE, more inside, more in..." a la the Disney Peter Pan movie. But only then.
  • Last year I lived close to downtown and enjoyed going out with friends, sometimes every night of the week. After I moved to the 'burbs, I turned into a major homebody. The long commute after work kills any desire to go out on the town.
  • when I lived in san francisco I walked EVERYWHERE. it was great, I didnt work out but I was always in shape/healthy. now I live in oakland, which is more suburban, and I drive everywhere, so I have to go (drive!) to the gym to maintain some semblance of not-fat, non-flabby-hood.
  • *studiously ignores Wurwilf
  • I'll second Mickey. I've gone from clubbing on weeknights to building a deck and a koi pond in the space of a year. That's what a 30 mile commute will do to you. That and actually having a backyard. I still go clubbing, but now it's on weekends with the rest of the bridge and...uh, bridge folks.
  • When living in a semi-major metropolitan area (1.2M people), I was miserable, hated my commute, trusted few strangers, etc. Moved to Montana, city of ~65K, where almost without fail I have been met with kindness, honesty, good cheer. It's almost like a Twilight Zone experience. There really is something special & different about this place -- due to the sparse population, the incredible scenery, the unique history, the climate, whatever -- it's wonderful.
  • When I lived in TX, it was considered way more appropriate to shoot the breeze with people you didn't know... cashiers, sales people, people you met in the elevator. After I moved up north, I learned pretty quickly that people are freaked out by that. When you try to talk to them, they just look at you funny.
  • Living in a specific area of London which isn't on the underground network, I've developed a much more relaxed sense of time. We're served by trains whish are less frequent than the tube; even if you miss a train, you know that buses won't get you onto the tube network any faster. So I've become utterly indifferent to time periods any less than 15 minutes. I don't rush to get places if I'm 15 minutes late; I'm not displeased with friends who keep me waiting. Living in a place where rushing simply isn't an option leaves you with a wonderfully relaxed attitude towards not rushing - and it's one that I take with me even to the parts of the city where rushing is the order of the day.
  • Ditto what meridithea said after moving from Texas to New Jersey. Nodding and smiling is the upper limit of human contact with most people. It's lonely. My driving instincts are all wrong, too. I expect a sustained honk to be a warning of an emergency, and freeze when someone lays on hard. Here that seems to mean "#%$^ you! Get out of my way!" Fortunately, another thing about living in the metro NYC part of Jersey (Jersey City) is that I walk a lot more and drive a lot less. I am a skinnier monkey now.
  • When I moved to Oklahoma from California I had a hard time remembering to chat about the weather, and how the kids are doing, and "Oh! You hunt squirrels with bow and arrow? That must be a challenge." before getting to the business part of a phone call. I must have seemed pretty rude and abrupt to those folks. And, ah, NJ drivers. Actually, they teach them to honk as a warning (in case you didn't see them, I guess) when doing driver's training. It is disconcerting when you've come from a place where the occasional use of the horn is pretty much reserved for telling people off.
  • Yeah, I think people find me vaguely stalkerish, up here. I'm just so used to knowing the name of every cashier's (hairdresser, bookseller, etc)kids, husbands/wives, pets, and their general philosophy of life and hobbies. At home, you were rude if you didn't say something pleasant and vaguely interesting in the elevator. Here, you're a weirdo if you do. Like immlass said, it's kinda lonely.
  • meredithea: but if you go to Connecticut, the folks in the local stores will have actual conversations with you. They'll even start a fairly depthy discussion of issues. That convinced me that I would like to retire in there. (Anybody among us who can tell me if the Draw Bridge Inn, on Mystic's main drag is still open, and still has great music during dinner? On the other hand, I'd hate it if it had changed.)
  • Here in Hawai'i, walk into to any gas station or kwiki-mart, and the register person will holler some greeting out to you, regardless of whether it's your first or fiftieth time in there. When you pay, and get your change, there's always some hand contact, often a lot of contact. This was a huge no-no back home in Reno. If you are trying to pullout of a parking lot into traffic, someone will always let you in. If a person fails to, they'll wave an apology to you. Trying to cross the street on foot or bicycle? Drivers will stop and wave you across. The driver's are pretty damn friendly, but not that good. Chances are, they driver shitty, maybe cut you off or something. But when they do, they often know it was shitty of them, and they'll wave an apology. Sometimes these rules are broken (more often when you're white), but these courtesies are pretty firmly entrenched in the culture. It's called Aloha. If you do get a local giving you shit (and you can't really blame any that does, knowing how we "colonized" Hawai'i), you ask him "Oh, how you gonna have less aloha than a haole? What you from, the mainland?" That usually works for me. Of course, you need to start off displaying aloha for it to work.