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Ned
11-20-2007, 06:26 AM
I read James column a few minutes ago, and wondered if I would have stopped to help the people he assisted. I sure hope so, but I don't know. As time goes on, I've become much more circumspect about assistance, since almost getting slugged a few years back for offering to help a young family. The man said, not quite this politely, I should stick my nose in someone else's business.

The thing that struck me about James column, and columns like it during "the holiday season" is that while people seem generally friendlier, more helpful, and more humane this time of year, come January 2nd, that feeling seems to evaporate until the following November.

Why can't, why doesn't, that "holiday feeling" last all year long?

jimtbay
11-20-2007, 06:48 AM
I think at the airport, it is chaos. Every person for themselves. Travelers know the airline or airport personnel are not going to give them any extra help, most are rushing to figure out where they need to go and feel they do not have enough time to get there.

Some are connecting and are forced to be there. People are travelling for different reasons, going to a funeral, getting somewhere before a loved one passes on, a celebration or whatever it is, chances are the stress level is up.

When I pass through the airport, I have one thing on my mind, get to my gate in time and then chill.

When I am at a mall or grocery shopping or just going through life, I am more in-tune to my surrondings and without hesitation help someone. In my business, I greet people, so it is not uncommon for me to smile or say hello to someone approaching me. Holding doors open and assisting someone for what really is usually less than 15 seconds is second nature.

To answer your question, the holiday spirit is there year long, I think people just think of themselves at airports. I think beyond the airport, it is a great and wonderful society we live in, with a few exceptions.

jfrenaye
11-20-2007, 06:57 AM
James is at an advantage for a welcome reception to his offer of assistance. He is in uniform and identifiable. The woman heading to her mother's funeral--I doubt would have had the reaction she did if someone just passing along stopped. I suspect there is skepticism in us all and a uniformed employee removes some of it.

tdew
11-20-2007, 07:18 AM
I'm going to take the column as I believe it was meant and make an effort to do more to make the season better for all.

Kairho
11-20-2007, 07:22 AM
The holiday feeling as it is called does indeed exist throughout the year but in my experience it is found far from the hustle and bustle of the cities and airports.

Rather, we have found it in the lovely rural parts of the country where life is a bit slower, calmer, and there is time to stop, visit and care for others. That's not to say everyone is a country bumpkin (there is just as much technology, work ethic, and business going on out here). But when you can see a sunrise and a sunset almost every day, can witness the miracles of life in real time and in situ, and can rely on your known neighbors to help for both the routine and the exceptional.

Now if you will excuse me, my dog and I need to go bring the horses and give them their breakfast.

bodega
11-20-2007, 10:43 AM
I totally agree Kairho. In cities, people on the street are just another body taking up space. Word spreads like wildfire in the small towns and rural areas and good deeds are just a part of everyday life, not limited to the holidays.

deangreenhoe
11-20-2007, 11:46 AM
Hmm. I'm not really much of a believer in "the holiday spirit." But before you call me a Scrooge - I think life is richer and more interesting if you try to remain connected to those around you, friend or stranger, and engage everyone with an openness as if they were destined to be your very next new friend. The idea that one should make a special effort during a specific time of the year turns me off.

The need for human kindness and compassion is a constant. I'm more impressed by people who respond to it as a way of life rather than a forced exception in the way of a holiday observance. Being one of those people is one of my personal goals. :)

Annette
11-20-2007, 12:06 PM
The only reason I make a special effort during the holidays is because there's so much else that can go wrong, and so much potential for stress. If I can do something that can lessen that for someone then I'm a little more inclined to. This isn't specifically a holiday thing but as an example today we've got our first "real" snow in Edmonton. It's snowed lightly a few times before this but this time I don't think it's going to melt. Streets were slippery and generally a mess, traffic was incredibly slow, and I had to be out in it to take my kitten to the vet for his "big day". On the way back I noticed a car waiting to turn onto the main street - and waiting, and waiting (did I mention traffic was really slow?) and I figured you know what I'm not in a huge hurry and it's not going to slow things down that much to let it in, so I did. It's a small thing, really no big deal, but it eased that person's stress just a little (and yes she looked really surprised, and relieved, that someone was finally letting her in).

So for me that's the point of doing something a little extra during the holidays - just because so many other people will be too focused on all the MeMeMe aspects of the holidays and not giving a thought to the fact that one small thing can make a difference.

jjjenny
11-20-2007, 12:11 PM
It was a good article and I am also one who believes giving and being helpful to others should be year round.
I think maybe help does come more often in smaller towns where gossip spreads quickly. I think that maybe in cities people get in way too much of a hurry and just don't slow down enough to see someone elses needs help. I'm sure many people would help if they weren't looking at clocks.

susanliber
11-20-2007, 12:13 PM
It all goes by the Golden Rule - Treat others as you would want to be treated.

Ned
11-20-2007, 12:26 PM
I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. Maybe the spirit is there, between those who live in rural America, but I have generally felt less than welcome in small town America. The folks there who I have seen treat visitors very much as outsiders, with whom they want no contact, if possible. I've found this when I've tried to get reasonable service in a local restaurant, or get directions at a local gas station, etc. Oh and don't tell me I was pushy and they pushed back. I wasn't. By the way, I consider reasonable service in a restaurant which is mostly empty to be getting a glass of water and having your order taken within about 10-15 minutes of arriving, instead of having to watch the waitress and her friend at the counter talk for the entire time, while I'm waiting.

The holiday feeling as it is called does indeed exist throughout the year but in my experience it is found far from the hustle and bustle of the cities and airports.

Rather, we have found it in the lovely rural parts of the country where life is a bit slower, calmer, and there is time to stop, visit and care for others. That's not to say everyone is a country bumpkin (there is just as much technology, work ethic, and business going on out here). But when you can see a sunrise and a sunset almost every day, can witness the miracles of life in real time and in situ, and can rely on your known neighbors to help for both the routine and the exceptional.

Now if you will excuse me, my dog and I need to go bring the horses and give them their breakfast.

the dark knight
11-20-2007, 12:41 PM
In the South, in my opinion, I (still) believe that Southerners are more helpful to others than in other parts of the country,(outside of in the cities themselves, where I agree with the earlier posts). No offense to any the Northerners out there. But that "gap" has narrowed a lot in recent years. Have you seen that Liberty Mutual commerical where someone helps some out... another person notices this and they do the same for someone else and so on that is playing a lot now?
Those acts of kindness and selflessness are exceptions to the rule today. It used to be the other way around, at least when I was growing up. Today, trying to be a Good Samaritan can get you cussed out or worse, just for trying to be helpful.
My father said to me that he used to help people when he could all the time. Today, he doesn't because it is too dangerous. Forget about time of year, location, religion, race or any of that. This says a lot about the eroding of our moral values as well as our compassion for our fellow person.
I'm just saying it like it is and the whole deal is very unfortunate.
It is more unfortunate that the most notice of such occurs during the holiday season, when it should be dealt with 24/7/365. Just a thought. Ned is correct that there are exceptions, yes especially in the South...we know the examples..like in Jena and so on, past and present. Does the "holiday feeling" exist outside of the holidays? Yes, but it is getting harder and harder to find it outside of November and December, especially in urban areas, and also especially with our younger folk, including those around my age. I don't even have to ask whose fault that is. We all know.

deangreenhoe
11-20-2007, 12:46 PM
I hope this doesn't turn into a "city mouse, country mouse" debate. ;)

In my travels I honestly don't detect a major difference between the general friendliness and willingness to be helpful between country and urban areas. I would be willing to admit there are regional differences but in general your opinion is usually set by the luck of the draw of whom you've encountered so it's usually based on anecdotal evidence.

All I have to do is take stock of my neighbors and imagine how each would react as an individual if you just dropped by as a stranded motorist in need. The response would vary between something that would amaze you by the kindness and generosity offered and abject fear by being run off the property with a shotgun pointed at your backside.

I don't think those circumstances change much from place to place and speaking in generalities isn't helpful to "the cause." :)

Gesualdo
11-20-2007, 02:24 PM
Let me speak from the other side of the coin - the side of needing help. Having grown up in true small town West Texas, I'm used to be called on to help others when they need it. We visit and bring food when someone is in the hospital. We babysit when someone has a family emergency. We're there for support when someone dies (and yes, we bring more food). But when I was in the hospital, the hospitality was definitely not returned, and I spent the whole weekend alone and scared. Sure, someone may have an unexpected reaction when we offer help, but it shouldn't stop you from offering it. For every person who threatens to slug you, there are 2 or 3 more who would welcome the help, even if it means only offering a shoulder for mascara smears.

the dark knight
11-20-2007, 02:30 PM
Dean,
I would agree with that, to an extent. For me, I don't see this as a country mouse versus city mouse debate, for I have some of both in me. You see some good and some bad in both areas, based on my life experience and what I have learned from others. I don't like to speak in generalities either, but such seems necessary in this PC world we live in today. I think most of you know my thoughts on that...lol.
Overall, I do think people are less friendly and helpful than they used to be, regardless of location. Reasons? Take your pick: Faster pace of life overall (cities especially), technology, the way people are raised in the last 20 years versus, say, 35-50 years ago, high divorce rate, more "broken homes", increase of bad influences, temptations and peer pressure out there for kids and adults. Need I go on?

Lynn
11-20-2007, 02:35 PM
I have not ever noticed a difference between urban or rural either, I have had tremendously friendly people in NYC or DC and truly standoffish folks in rural Vermont and Alabama. So I don't see the line being drawn by some.

What I do see is a complete breakdown in common courtesy, little things like holding a door when someone is approaching, or a thank you and you are welcome. . . or a nod with a wave when letting an opposing car cross in front of me. These are all things that I do on a regular basis, and get no response. Tho I do have to say that of late I have become a bit more vocal about it. If I have held a door for someone and they have not said thank you I smile at them and say, "You're Welcome!" I do the same if I make a purchase and don't get a thank you. It makes the offender think, or I hope it does!

I guess I really do try to keep the spirit of the holidays in my heart year round. I was raised by the golden rule and try to live it daily.

mtp51
11-20-2007, 07:50 PM
Hmm. I'm not really much of a believer in "the holiday spirit." But before you call me a Scrooge - I think life is richer and more interesting if you try to remain connected to those around you, friend or stranger, and engage everyone with an openness as if they were destined to be your very next new friend. The idea that one should make a special effort during a specific time of the year turns me off.

The need for human kindness and compassion is a constant. I'm more impressed by people who respond to it as a way of life rather than a forced exception in the way of a holiday observance. Being one of those people is one of my personal goals. :)

Why, you ARE one of those people, Deano!:)

Lynn
11-21-2007, 06:41 AM
Sure, someone may have an unexpected reaction when we offer help, but it shouldn't stop you from offering it. For every person who threatens to slug you, there are 2 or 3 more who would welcome the help, even if it means only offering a shoulder for mascara smears.

You are so right, nothing should deter our humanity.

Ned
11-21-2007, 07:08 AM
I agree with you Dean.

To a large extent when people do something out of the "holiday spirit" what does that say about what they do the rest of the year. You see and read about people doing all kinds of special things at this time of year, but not a whole lot in the dog days of summer.

For example, people donate all kinds of food to shelters and soup kitchens this time of year so these places can make Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for those who would not otherwise have such a dinner. Foodbanks and soup kitchens are virtually overburdened with food in November and December, while they have to continually beg the rest of the year for a few morsels. Why does that holiday spirit need to turn off on December 26th, not to be turned on again prior to November 15th.

Dean you're 100% right that "The need for human kindness and compassion is a constant." Someone in need should be able to get help in July and August, not just November and December.

Actually, I will call you Scrooge. You see, "Scrooge kept his word to the ghosts and continued his Christmas spirit of generosity and kindness year round after that." Paraphrasing Walter Cronkite's famous evening sign-off, "And that's the way it should be."

Hmm. I'm not really much of a believer in "the holiday spirit." But before you call me a Scrooge - I think life is richer and more interesting if you try to remain connected to those around you, friend or stranger, and engage everyone with an openness as if they were destined to be your very next new friend. The idea that one should make a special effort during a specific time of the year turns me off.

The need for human kindness and compassion is a constant. I'm more impressed by people who respond to it as a way of life rather than a forced exception in the way of a holiday observance. Being one of those people is one of my personal goals. :)

Kairho
11-21-2007, 07:10 AM
I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. Maybe the spirit is there, between those who live in rural America, but I have generally felt less than welcome in small town America. The folks there who I have seen treat visitors very much as outsiders, with whom they want no contact, if possible. I've found this when I've tried to get reasonable service in a local restaurant, or get directions at a local gas station, etc. Oh and don't tell me I was pushy and they pushed back. I wasn't. By the way, I consider reasonable service in a restaurant which is mostly empty to be getting a glass of water and having your order taken within about 10-15 minutes of arriving, instead of having to watch the waitress and her friend at the counter talk for the entire time, while I'm waiting.
I agree that's probably true here in FLorida. We have tons of snowbirds from the North who seem to visit with an attitude of superiority. It's no wonder they are often ignored. But this Northerner lives the life here now and feels a lot more welcome than most anywhere else. You need to live the rural life to appreciate it.

Ned
11-21-2007, 07:29 AM
I sincerely doubt that sitting at a table, having a quiet conversation with my wife, waiting for someone to take a lunch order, exudes an air of superiority, but if it does, then the waitress has the real problem of an inferiority complex. Sorry big K., but I just don't believe, after years of personal observation, that folks in rural America are any worse, nor any better, than folks in the big city or the 'burbs. People in rural America are just as nice, and just as obnoxious as people anywhere.

I agree that's probably true here in FLorida. We have tons of snowbirds from the North who seem to visit with an attitude of superiority. It's no wonder they are often ignored. But this Northerner lives the life here now and feels a lot more welcome than most anywhere else. You need to live the rural life to appreciate it.

Kairho
11-21-2007, 07:40 AM
I sincerely doubt that sitting at a table, having a quiet conversation with my wife, waiting for someone to take a lunch order, exudes an air of superiority, but if it does, then the waitress has the real problem of an inferiority complex. Sorry big K., but I just don't believe, after years of personal observation, that folks in rural America are any worse, nor any better, than folks in the big city or the 'burbs. People in rural America are just as nice, and just as obnoxious as people anywhere.
Ned, please don't take comments like this personally ... but it is certainly a general trend. Otherwise why the popular bumper stickers: "We don't care how you do it up north." and "Thank you for visiting. Now please go home." ;)

msnovtue
11-21-2007, 09:13 AM
Ned, please don't take comments like this personally ... but it is certainly a general trend. Otherwise why the popular bumper stickers: "We don't care how you do it up north." and "Thank you for visiting. Now please go home." ;)

You forgot the classic "If they call it tourist season, why can't we shoot them?" :eek: I saw that on a quite a few cars during my years in Florida...

For me, I try to do stuff like that as best I can, no matter when or where. Then again, where I live prides itself on something called "Hoosier Hospitality". Yeah, we've got our share of jerks, but it's always gratifying to talk to an out of town visitor and hear them remark how helpful everyone is.

And hey, you never know--I ended up playing translator for a few people in Germany on my last trip, and now I've got a small pile of email addresses and new friends all over the place, inculding several offers of places to stay (for free!!!). Heck, I even ended up playing tour guide to a band from England one night, which was quite an interesting experience....

RGoltsch
11-23-2007, 07:06 PM
Nine years ago last week, I took my first international trip.....To Korea. I flew to Inchon, and was supposed to take a limousine to the Hilton in Seoul. I planned ahead, exchanging phone calls with our agent over in Seoul to be sure I had everything planned right.

After my flight, I landed in Inchon and got through immigration, got my bags and got through customs. I then started looking for my limo to the Hilton. I must have wandered around that terminal for an hour dragging my laptop, carry-on and my suitcase. I'm sure that I looked like a lost puppy.

In my wanderings, a small older woman came up and said something to me in Korean. I nodded, smiled and tried to explain that I didn't understand what she was saying. She tugged me on my shirtsleeve in the direction of a small counter where some other women were working. A younger version of this lady came out from behind the counter. The older lady spoke a bit to her, pointed at me, then smiled.

The younger woman explained to me in English that her mom had seen me wandering around for a while, obviously looking for something. I explained that I was trying to find my ride to the hotel. A limousine was supposed to take me there.

She took me outside to the Limousine Bus line. They had hourly treks to Seoul and my hotel in specific. I was looking for a limo and driver, I should have been looking for a bus.

I have never forgotten that feeling of complete helplessness. I go out of my way to try and help people in an airport, especially if they look like they are not from this land. I look to see if they look like I did that day.