I quickly parked and ran inside. The lights are still on, I thought to myself, surely they are still here. As I opened the door I noticed a man, apparently in his pajamas, sitting at the top of the stairs.
“Hi,” he said, sounding forlorn.
“Hey,” I replied, smiling. “How’s it going?”
“Oh good, you’re not a local either.”
I looked at him strangely, as one might, and asked what he needed. He’d been moving into his apartment all day and had managed to lock himself out. He’d left his cell phone inside as well so he couldn’t even call his wife so she could come let him in the building. Fortunately, I do have the key to his building so I was able to help him out, but I didn’t intend to let him go before he explained himself.
“It’s just that the people here are so weird,” he said. “They’re cold and just… weird.”
“I know what you mean,” I laughed. “They don’t even talk to you in the grocery!”
“You and I probably have the same trouble: friendly Southerners with no accent.”
He had just moved to town from Dallas and was finding it hard to adjust to the coldness that accompanies our Northern town. I used to have that trouble, too, but now I talk to people anyway and just don’t worry about it. It’s true, though, that if you have a Southern accent to go with your Southern charm, people don’t look at you quite like you’re insane. We two have no accent so we spend a lot of time with people assuming we’re madly in love with them or something.
I don’t know what Northerners think of Southerners, really, since I’m a Northern transplant, though I have been told that I am charming even when I’m telling people negative things. I’m told this makes interactions with me confusing at first. There seems to be a “tell it like it is” policy up here which seems to me to be a politically correct way of saying “be mean to everyone all the time for no reason” policy.
He pointed out that our leasing agent was awesome and not a weird, cold, unfriendly Northerner. I pointed out that she’s a sales person. All direct sales people have to be like that. He was saddened to realise this, but we still had a good long laugh over those unkind Northerners.
“Well if you’re ever dying for some normal human interaction,” he said to me, “we’re always here! Well, we’ve just moved so we don’t really know anyone, but we’d love to know you!”
We exchanged names and that was it, though, so I can’t imagine how we intend to find one another, but it’s probably best that way.
Brief friendly connections in the hallway are always nice.