John Brock is taking a short summer break. This column is a reprint from several years ago.
So, you’re new to the area. Just visiting? Or moved permanently to the South from up yonder, did you?
Well, in the sincere interest of helping you fit right in, I think it appropriate to offer a little instruction regarding how to make a hit with your new Southern neighbors. These are proven methods utilized successfully by some folks who preceded you to the Southland.
If you follow these instructions faithfully, you are certain to make an impression on those of us who have been in this region our entire lives.
First of all, be sure, whenever you are in a group of your new Southern neighbors, to tell them how things were done where you came from. This always excites the natives.
Never forget to speak forcefully at levels exceeding 100 decibels when dining in a quiet restaurant or in any other public venue. Be certain to make at least one loud cell phone call during your meal. Never neglect an opportunity to criticize the food or the server. Both -- if at all possible.
When you find yourself in a checkout line, don’t forget to comment on the backwardness of local folks. Do so in a voice loud enough to be heard two lanes away.
When addressing a native Southerner, always refer to individuals as, “Redneck,” “Bubba” or “Boy.”
Whenever you are visiting with neighbors, ask them if they have an indoor toilet.
And when you are in their kitchen for the first time make certain that you comment on their “running water.”
And while you are about it, ask if the husband and wife are blood-related.
And if you really want to make a hit, mention the fact that they are both wearing shoes!
Whenever possible, display astonishment that your new neighbor’s children are able to read and write by the eighth grade.
Express astonishment when you realize your new Southern friend has all of his teeth, uses dental floss and visits the dentist regularly.
By all means, don’t forget to use the term “You all” in a singular sense.
It would be a real compliment if you could mimic our Southern dialect in a slow, drawling falsetto fashion. We just eat that up!
If the conversation falters ask, “Hey, where can I go to see some poor people?”
DISCOUNT FOR LOCALS
Some local firms offer off-season discounts to local residents in appreciation for their year-round support.
During “Snowbird” season be sure to write to local newspapers complaining about not receiving discounts available to local folks. Many firms have an off-season “Thanks-to-local-patrons” programs that offer discounts ranging from discounted meals and entertainment venue tickets to lower golf green fees. This seems to just eat at the heart of many northern visitors.
Unfailingly, they remind us how much money they spend in the area and how miffed they are about not being considered “local” while escaping the frozen tundra of the vast northeast for a couple of months each winter. Occasionally, a tourist in town for only a week or so also complains about not feeling welcomed because local businesses do not extend to them the same discount consideration offered to full-time residents.
I would like to remind these folks that those of us who live here year-round, continue to provide facilities to make their stay enjoyable whenever they do visit.
Although tourism is becoming more of a year-round business, local firms still have an “off-season” in which, were it not for local folks, they would be forced to close for several months during this down time -- just as many firms once did in years past.
Local folks, just as visitors, pay additional taxes labeled “Tourism taxes” that provide facilities and services that would not be needed except for the seasonal influx of tourists. Every month of the year, we pay more for meals, accommodations, gasoline, property taxes, rentals and just about any consumer purchase which is available for less money twenty miles inland.
Because these increased costs are incurred by local firms, they must, in turn, be passed on to the consumer whether they live here year-round or not. Therefore, if local firms want to show their appreciation to local folks for their annual support, I say, “Thank you.”