Monday, April 14, 2014

Southern Hospitality

I love being in the small towns of the Low Country of  South Carolina. Old fashioned southern etiquette still abounds. People in the grocery store politely wait behind you while you shop for something on a shelf. Other times they stop completely, then delicately say "please excuse me" before passing by.

It's not uncommon to hear "Yes, ma'am" and "No, sir". Southern store clerks will chat to you in multiple paragraphs while beeping up your purchases or merely stocking shelves. Funny, it used to be cashiers rang up your products but now the machines beep instead of ding.

While checking into a southern campground late this evening, I was of course alone with dog. First the spot had to be carefully backed into, then to my dismay, I had to pull out leveling boards or else my refrigerator couldn't operate properly. (It must be level and I hate rolling off a crooked bed.) First the male volunteer workamper rushed over to help, then the ranger stopped his truck in the middle of the street to jump out and assist. By golly we had those boards out and that RV level in quick order and my hands never even got dirty. My fees hadn't even been paid yet but they wanted to "settle you in first, ma'am". The ranger gallantly offered me and my dog a ride back to the office in his truck.

He opened the pickup door for me, then the office door when we arrived. When I said I would just walk back so that doggy could water some bushes along the way, he jumped up from around his desk,  to open the door for us to go outside. All the while we had a nonstop conversation about a variety of fun subjects.

Ah... the thrill of great southern manners.

My day had started out really rough. I was happy but my body woke up all grouchy, shooting daggers of pain. I tried smiling, I tried stretching, I tried deep breathing, I tried praying, I tried rolling my eyes heavenward.  Then the RV repairman called to ask what time I might be stopping by his place for the leaky roof repairs. I was hit by falling tree branches and the gasket around the overhead air conditioner unit appeared to have popped loose. During the storm, water ran all across the ceiling, then filled up 3 cabinets which I had to quickly dump out.

I explained, I was moving a bit slowly, and if he had anything else to do, don't let me hold him up. I would just come park my RV and be napping until his return. I was apologizing for being so vague, but he's found me napping at his place before, or napping while he works on my RV,  so he's kind of used to my erratic energy level. He's amazed I can sleep through electric drills, air compressor tools and people walking on the roof or through the motorhome.

He's a mobile repairman, but I prefer to travel to his shop at home, located 100 miles away down country roads. It's a pretty drive for the most part with some of the byways hiding under a canopy of ancient trees, dripping in moss that cover and shade the entire road, like driving through a verdant surreal tunnel.

When I finally arrived, it was kind of mid afternoon, as the day had just been one of those if it can go wrong it will sort of day. Before I set out, Harley and I took a stroll around the campground and out to the beach briefly. I was amazed at the number of friendly people we kept running into. Harley dog had somehow made friends all over the place during our stay and well, I guess folks were being nice to me too, since we're kind of a package deal.

Many people often asked me if I am a native Indian. Sometimes I just say "half-breed" or when I'm feeling silly, I say "mixed breed". One morning recently I woke up and decided to whimsically put my long hair in braids. Then I rode my shiny red bicycle with doggy in his wicker basket up front, while wobbling up and down the beach during low tide letting my braids flap in the wind with a goofy grin on my face. I didn't care that folks laughed or called me Dorothy or called out "It's Toto!" It was such fun, I wondered if I was really just a child, pretending to be an adult.


Harley carries his tennis ball home.

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