Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Holiday Update

I just wanted to make a quick post...and one gripe...about this holiday season.

First off, the gripe is nothing about my holidays, just an observation I made today at the mall.

Anyways, this has been a great Christmas. I really enjoyed seeing my family and look forward to the next few days when I will get to see some of my friends. I didn't realize how much I missed everyone...and their accent...and their southern cuisine...and everything else about home.

Santa was really good to me to. All in all it was a great holiday season. I love my family and was glad to spend time with everyone. The good news is I have another week to spend with everyone here!

On to the gripe...

I went to Opry Mills mall today - for those who don't know this is a fairly large mall that replaced the OpryLand theme park several years back. It is almost always busy - especially in the summer and around the holiday season. The summer I worked at the Grand Ole Opry I got acquainted with the mall fairly well - especially the food court. Thus, whenever I want to go to a mall in the Nashville area, I usually go to Opry Mills.

I mentioned that I worked at the Grand Ole Opry more to impress everyone. This is something that I usually say pretty soon after I become acquainted with someone. It is a good conversation starter, but mainly I just like to brag about the people I met there. So, just another example of how I am superior, er, interesting. I'm a shameless name dropper...

Back to my gripe - So, whenever I go to Opry Mills I usually eat at either the cajun grill of the chinese place, both of which I love. Today I got my food and went on the journey of finding a table. Remember, this is a popular mall so there are lots of tables, but after 4 or 5 minutes of walking around aimlessly I realize that it's so crowded I have no chance of finding a seat.

The only other time something similar has happened to me was in Laguardia Airport's (New York) food court. This was on the way to my US-2 interview so I was pretty nervous anyways, and to top that off it was the first time I had really flown by myself and it was to an airport, an extremely busy airport, that I had never been to. So, when I couldn't find a table I almost cried. But I soon noticed that people were just walking up to tables that someone was already seated at, pulling out the chair, and simply sitting down. No asking if it was okay to sit. No conversation thereafter. It was weird, but I was willing to give it a try. My General Tso's was getting cold.

So, I saw a lady sitting at a table by herself, approached the table, fought the urge to ask her if I could sit, sat down my tray, pulled out the chair and quietly sat down, the whole time watching the lady so I could thwart her objections. She never looked up from her paperback. So...I ate, never speaking to the lady. She, in return, never acknowledged my existence.

Back to today - remembering this Laguardia experience on my third time around the food court I decided to try sitting with a stranger. However, I knew that in the south I better ask before I sit, lest I get talked about for the next 10 years:

"Honey, you'll never guess what happened to me today. I was at the mall eating my lunch, minding my own business and some dude just came up and sat down with me. Never said a word. I'm pretty sure that I've seen him on America's most wanted."

Within a couple weeks my status will have been raised to being some sort of serial killer, or just mentally disabled, all because I acted like someone would act in the North. Not in the South. Just think if it is a woman you go to sit with and don't speak. Automatic mall security questioning.

Anyways, I see a guy sitting at a table for four by himself, ask if I can sit down, and am quickly turned down. He does concede "I will be done in about 10 minutes if you want to wait." I say "No thanks" and walk away, red faced and hungrier than ever. Luckily, a table opens up soon and I snag it.

This leads me to wonder why here in the friendliest of places can't we just walk up and sit with total strangers. I reckon (using southern word for emphasis) that it is because we are so friendly by nature, that when eating alone we just plain want to be by ourselves - we don't want to have to turn on the charm. If someone sits by me, it is awkward if I don't speak. Two people sitting at a table and not speaking doesn't happen in the south unless you are married. So, we haven't started the trend of sitting with stranger because we don't want to have to carry on awkward conversation in busy places, like the airport or busy malls.

After further reflection I realize that I'm glad the jerk didn't let me sit with him. I would have to still be there carrying on awkward conversation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This leads me to wonder why here in the friendliest of places can't we just walk up and sit with total strangers.Easy. Because this isn't the friendliest of places.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Darryl B said...

I agree with you Adam. People from around here, can't sit at the table with a total stranger without starting a conversation. That's probably why that guy turned you down. He didn't feel like talking, so it was easier to say no. People from other areas have no problem with it because they have no problem sitting a the table with someone and completely ignoring them. Around here It's called "Southern hospitality"

4:30 PM  

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