When I first moved to Boston (and even now) I get asked the same question over and over. And by over and over I mean that someone has asked me this question at least once a week since the move.
“You’re not from here are you?”
“Where are you from?”
“Minnesota! Moved here in October!”
“That makes sense. You’re too nice to be from here.”
One of the better examples was in my first week here. I had taken the T into the city to do a bit of touristy stuff – have to do it right. While I was waiting to do this Freedom Trail tour (super awesome if you want an entertaining walking tour of the city) there was a man in a motorized wheelchair hanging out in the sun. He was older and had a WWI hat on. Naturally, I went over to him and said “thank you for your service, sir”. All of the sudden there was a look of utter shock on his face. It took him a few seconds to say anything but when he did, all he could say was, “Thank you young lady.” I sat there chatting with him for a little bit and learned a lot about him. He asked where I was from saying that I was definitely not from Boston. LOL. When it was time for me to leave on my little tour, we shook hands (I really wanted to hug him) and he told me that there needed to be more nice young people like me in the world. Selfishly it made me feel incredible knowing that such a small thing could warm someones heart.
I know it sounds super funny, but it is also super true.
The thing I don’t understand though, is that many of the people that I have met here (like the man in the story above) are super nice. Sure, they are a bit more rushed, they are very rude drivers and they definitely don’t want to strike up a conversation with you at the bus stop but once you break down that barrier, they are more than happy to have a conversation with you. Or even give you a smile.
After a few weeks at my job, I was having this conversation with some of my coworkers and a majority of them weren’t shocked at all that people were saying this to me. I was a little shocked, however, when a few of them said that they hate when people say hi to them walking down the street. And saying hi in an elevator is definitely off limits. AND a smile freaks people out because they think you are up to something.
I have no idea how to explain that! On one hand you have people who love to chat and smile if you smile at them and on the other hand you have people who will punch you in the face if you try to talk to them in the elevator! Maybe once I have been here for a year I will be able to come to some conclusions as to why this is. As a newbie, I am just going to continue to be my not massholey self.
It is something I am going hold onto as long as I possibly can. There is no way to know whether or not a smile or a simple hello is going to make someones horrible day just that much better.