I have it on good authority that Monterey, the town in which I live (towns out here are more like counties out in IN), has 75% of its houses belonging to second home owners who come in from New York on holidays and in the summer. And that’s the pattern all over the Berkshires. I think I’ve written a bit about this before and about the conundrum in which it puts the service workers and “natives”.
And every year so far (all two of them) I’ve forgotten about the hundreds and hundreds of people who come in the summer until I drive through Great Barrington in mid June or (in this case) mid July, at which point it’s simply impossible to forget. Many of them have very different attitudes — many of them are the upper crust and are used to things the way they want them and pronto; many of them are used to being assertive, bordering on (and sometimes crossing the border into) agressive; many of them can get kinda annoying.
The ironic thing is, though, that I sometimes find myself mimicking the exact things I complain of. I was standing in line at a store and someone, who didn’t know where the line was supposed to wait, cut in front of me because of the confusion. I was less than polite with the man and the cashier, even though I was in no hurry — I had a full hour left to get the errand finished.
Now, there are summer folk who do cut lines, though perhaps not maliciously, at least with full knowledge and intent. There are summer folk who like to complain ad nauseum and who teach their children that they “NEED” two flavors of ice cream in a danish cone immediately. And it is also true that I am terribly annoyed by those kinds of behaviors. But I had no evidence of any ill will in this man who cut me. And, more to the point, even if I did have any evidence of that, I did not act charitably.
So, I sat down after the moment had passed and thought about sucking it up and going to the man and apologizing. Unfortunately, I didn’t get up the courage until he was already gone. But, man out there, if you read this, know that I’m sorry.
And the point of my musings on this topic — I was reminded of a few things I know to be true (and thus I pass along the reminder):
1) I get to choose how I respond to things. No one forces me to do anything (New Yorkers do not force me to be annoyed or to respond snippily, no matter what they do).
2) I should always apologize if I think to myself, “If I had that moment to relive, I would have done that differently.” And I should do it, even if it means saying, “I really had no excuse.”
3) Generalizations can be dangerous.
4) Bad attitudes can be catching — I need to surround myself with the kind of people I want to be like, and, when I can’t, I need to find different ways to encounter people so that I don’t catch the bug.
5) Dishing out tit for tat doesn’t teach anyone anything — least of all, me.
More later, but for now — signing off with that sappiness…