Tub Thoughts

Making Nice

2 years ago by

Making Nice

A few weeks ago, I was visiting family in Northern California with my boyfriend before heading up to Portland, Oregon for a wedding. To squeeze in a late summer road trip, we decided to take a couple days and drive up the coast instead of just flying to Portland. It was beautiful and we had a great time checking out the redwoods, staying in strange (creepy) B&Bs and also a haunted hotel in Portland. Ghosts aside, one of the biggest things I noticed was how nice everyone in Oregon was. So nice that it threw my jaded-NYC dwelling self into a bit of an identity crisis.

When I walked into the hotel in Portland, I was greeted with such a hearty, “Hey! How’s it going?” that I thought, shit, this guy thinks I’m someone else and I’m going to need to awkwardly explain to him that I’m not that someone else. I was wrong. He was just being nice and welcoming. At another point, I had a total stranger look at me on the street and smile, open mouthed. My boyfriend turned to me and asked if we knew the person after they passed. We didn’t. Again, just your typical northwestern friendliness.

At the wedding, I caught up with a friend who also lives in NYC and she had very similar interactions while in Portland. So, it’s clear people in the northwest are super nice, but also possible that living in NYC for eight years has left me unable to recognize genuine enthusiasm and friendliness. I can’t be alone in this, right?!?

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  • oh wow yes! i’m from the midwest originally. a few years after moving to new york, i was in the chicago airport after a long travel day, waiting for my next flight, and the woman sitting across from me just beamed at me. i literally looked over my shoulder, movie-style, to see who she was smiling at, and then turned around and involuntarily frowned. i was so confused about what was happening. i felt awful when i came to my senses and realized she was just being nice.

  • I’ve had this exact interaction and other versions of it, many times. x Carie

  • Melanie Steinemann September, 25 2017, 5:14 / Reply

    Ha! I had the exact same reaction when I left our home in France and went to Italy for the Grand Prix. It was like night and day.

  • I’m laughing out loud. Yes, Portlanders are friendly. As a recent transplant to Portland from Massachusetts, it’s a bit, well, different here. The checkout guy at the grocery store always asks me, “So how’s your day going?” If I ask him the same question, I often get a lot more information than I was expecting (maybe he misses his mother). But I knew I’d made the adjustment when I went into a cafe and the people behind the counter were rather cool toward me, and that seemed even weirder.

  • Haha! I’m from Alabama and lived in Chicago for four years. I had to adjust to what I felt was unfriendly. I did (eventually!) and it was good. I’ve moved around a few times now and realize it’s all relative. You just have to accept the culture you are in.

  • So true, Hannah! It just takes time. x Carie

  • Too cute! I was visiting NYC for a concert and some Yoga classes (from Ontario, Canada) and turned into a female version of Crocodile Dundee. (greeting people with a smiling face – they did look confused for a while). I learned my lesson and tried to contain my natural friendliness but you’re right, people are different depending on location.

  • Gretchen Cole September, 26 2017, 9:01 / Reply

    All you needed to do to feel “NYC at home” in Portland is go into Public Domain coffee and order something. Portland has the best coffee in the country (as they say, “Hear that Seattle?” “Sorry, SF, its true.” and “NYC, you’re not even close!”). Ordering coffee in Portland can be intimidating. Don’t be fooled by Portlanders. They have their very own versions of correctness, just like New Yorkers have theirs. It’s just that not smiling and not saying hello isn’t one of them.
    On a side note, why not highlight some hipster Northwest stuff on GD instead of always Paris, NYC and LA? (Like Will Leather Goods for example).

  • Being European I’d say Americans are so much more friendly in general!
    I’ve not been everywhere in Europe or America but just saying…. Americans do smile and greet so much more than people here.

    I met the most amazing people in America! Friendly to strangers like I was.
    So good memories!

    I’ve been to Maryland most of all but even NYC seemed friendly enough.

    Sometimes I’m afraid that we are loosing the sense of being nice. That we don’t value it any more… that we think that we can do without… Well, we can’t, I think. Life would be meaningless without kindness, friendlyness, niceness…

  • Could not agreee more withyou Sophie :)

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