I grew up in central Indiana, south of 40. To those in “the Region”, everything and everyone south of I40 is considered country, backwards, and pretty close to Southern. Of course it isn’t in anyone’s wildest dreams close to what my sister in Georgia would consider Southern. Still there is a sense of graciousness and neighborliness that is not as pronounced in the more northern areas of the state. That said, even in northern Indiana there is a helpfulness that permeates the culture. People will hold doors open for those carrying children or large boxes. They will stop to see if you need help if you are stuck in the snow. They will let you go ahead in the check out if you have a gallon of milk and a candy bar and they have a cart full.
Times are changing. I experienced it first hand. Sparky and I were in the check out line at Dollar Tree. Now, I know that there are some people who would never set foot in that store. They are generally the same folks who make fun of Wal-Mart shoppers. I’m not a big fan of Wal-Mart but it has nothing to do with the people who frequent that chain. Dollar Tree clientele are on the whole looking for a bargain and rather a diverse group. But I digress. The line was very long and only one cashier was working. Some folks had been waiting a long time. They announced that lane 3 was opening. Sparky nodded for me to head that way. I took a small step back. I’m talking the length of my foot (I wear a size 7 shoe). As I brought my foot down I felt resistance. Having owned pets and being a mother, I abruptly stopped my progress. In that instance the woman behind me squawked. Immediately I apologized, “I’m so sorry!” Her response was greatly exaggerated and she began to curse at me as she moved to lane 3. I just looked surprised and remained in the line instead of moving – since I was NOT going to get closer to her.
This whole episode has irritated me. Why was she standing so close to me? Why was my apology not accepted? What was I supposed to do instead or in addition to the apology? I’ve been accidentally rammed with a shopping cart and the apology was accepted and I ended up having a nice conversation with the young mother wrangling her rambunctious 4 year old. On one occasion I was smacked with a gallon of milk. I wasn’t injured and again a profuse apology and we parted with smiles. What has changed in this world? Are we so pugnacious that we are looking for any excuse to have a tiff or start a brawl? These are mostly rhetorical questions. I can point to our current political atmosphere. I can nod at the general lack of interest in organized religion. There is permissive parenting, the opioid epidemic, cognitive dissonance, rampant drug and alcohol use/abuse, unemployment, shirking of personal responsibility, too many triggers and not enough sensitivity, a sense of entitlement, and a myriad of other cultural and economic woes that impact our lives.
Still this kind of encounter bothers me, and I’m not sure I can do anything about it. Sorry for the rant but every once in awhile I just need to get these things out of my head. Thanks for reading.