Sunday, September 17, 2017

What has Happened to the Neighborhood?

It’s a beautiful 82˚day where I live. Although I had things to do, I couldn’t resist taking a short walk in my neighborhood. It’s amazing what one can learn on one of these walks. I encountered five people and two dogs along the way and I don’t mind telling you, the dogs were much friendlier than the people.
I’ve lived in this neighborhood for many years, but an onlooker might have supposed that I was a newcomer. People seem almost afraid to speak to people they don’t know these days. I remember a time when I couldn’t go for a walk without getting involved in conversation with everyone I met. In those days, everyone walked mostly for the camaraderie. What started out to be a short walk always took a couple of hours.
But today was different. As a man cutting his grass looked my way, I smiled and said, “Hello,” but all I got back was a quick nod. A short time later, I saw two ladies walking toward me on the opposite side of the street. Gearing up for a friendly exchange, I readied my smile, but the two ladies barely managed a nervous “Hi,” as they walked on. Another woman sat in a rocking chair on her porch – rocking away. I said, “Hello, how’re you today?” She ignored me.
Just as I was checking to see if my shirt was unbuttoned or if I had mustard on my face, a big brown dog and a small white one ran toward me wagging all over and jumping on me as if I were a well-known friend. Their owner appeared on her porch and yelled, “Beautiful day, isn’t it?”
“Sure is!” I yelled back, petting the dogs.
Heading toward home, I thought, “Well, one out of five ain’t bad, I guess. What has happened to the neighborhood? Where are all the friendly people? Are all neighborhoods like this – or only mine?”
Am I a scary looking person? If so, it didn’t just recently happen. I remember a time when I was much younger – and had more vinegar running through my veins; I was being ignored at a doctor’s office. I sat there for more than an hour past my appointment time. People kept arriving, getting called in to see the doctor and leaving while I sat twiddling my thumbs. I got angrier and angrier and finally couldn’t stand it any longer. I went to the window. The receptionist looked up and said, “May I help you?”
“Do I have two heads or something?” I inquired.
“What do you mean,” she asked.
“You’ve ignored me for more than an hour. If the doctor doesn’t have time for me, I’ll leave now and not waste any more of my day!”
After rustling around with some papers on her desk, the young girl, obviously embarrassed, said, “I’m so sorry! You’re next.”
Those were the good old days when people knew how to communicate!