In my opinion, one of the very worst of bad habits is that of generalizing. In fact some of the worst lies that we tell ourselves and tell others stem from generalizations.
When I was preparing to move to the North, my Mississippi friends begged me to reconsider, “You’ll hate it there. The people are mean. It is too cold. You won’t be able to grow anything in your garden.”
After I landed in Philadelphia and began my journey toward my new home, I noticed that the license plates said that New Jersey is the Garden State. One of the major roads here is called the Garden State Parkway. I certainly didn’t expect that.
When I began looking for a house to buy here, fate brought me to my current house. When I saw that a gigantic magnolia tree spread across the entire back yard, I was convinced that this was the house for me. The magnolia is the Mississippi State Tree. Somehow, this seemed like the appropriate place for me to land. I named my big tree Mississippi, but a couple of weeks ago, Mississippi caught one too many harsh winds from the Northeast and fell. It almost hit my house.
Now, here is one of those generalizations for you, but in the South, lots of guys have chainsaws. That is not so very true in the North. Here is another generalization: In the North, people tend to hire things done, and the going rate for cutting down a fallen tree is about $1,000.00. Without having to generalize too terribly much, my neighbors realize that I don’t have $1,000.00 extra.
Contrary to what most in the South might believe of Northerners, most Northerners are very decent people. They are just as warm and as neighborly as people are anywhere else. Within days of Mississippi’s having fallen, my neighbors, chainsaw in hand, showed up in my backyard and began to haul her to the street.
These same Yankee neighbors are the ones who always invite me for Thanksgiving dinner and they load my doorstep with homemade cookies and candies at Christmas time, too. But beyond that,they are always there, ANY time that they even suspect that I need help–and that is just one set of my Yankee neighbors.
Another set of neighbors always ask me over for Christmas–in spite of the fact that I NEVER return the invitation. Early in the game, I muttered that I was remodeling and my house was a mess. The truth be known, long ago, I began remodeling my kitchen and ran out of money. After that, my kitchen became an ugly abyss. Finally, I invited this friend over to advise me as to what I should do first–to try to make my house more livable. Well, that neighbor apparently began texting her friends, asking who was remodeling their kitchen and might have something they wouldn’t mind giving to someone else or selling for a reasonable price.
Within moments, one of the families who bring children to my story hour gave me a kitchen–and not just any kitchen. It is a beauty.
There is almost a lesson of faith in this. I hoped and I prayed for some simple patch to cover the ugliness of the place that I needed a kitchen and what I am getting is beyond my greatest hope–and here is the real news: one of these cold, Yankee families is giving it to me–simply because.
The miracles did not cease. The builders who are installing my benefactors’ kitchen is delivering the kitchen to my house, FREE. Yet, I still did not know how I would get it installed. Another neighbor, the one who always throws me a little birthday party, stepped up for this part of the magic. Yes, she knew a contractor who she felt could offer me a good deal. He came over, took a look around, and he gave me some quotes. I looked at him with questions in my eyes, “Is this enough money?”
He responded, “You take care of our kids.” — he meant Linwood’s children. As of March 17, I shall have been Linwood’s Children’s Librarian for 13 years, and I thought that I was working for peanuts, but after this has happened, I realized that I am actually paid very well. I always knew that the emotional pay was superior, but I never dreamed that I might even profit financially.
The builder added, “I believe in Karma. This is your Karma. Enjoy!”
One of the first things that I learned after moving to the North was to drop my biases about Northerners, and I am learning to drop the generalizations, too. In most cases, generalizations are lazy lies.
P.S. Not everyone in the South is as sweet as hot, buttered, syrup. They just sound that way.
©Jacki Kellum March 15, 2016