Being in a different community (county) for a week got me thinking about the old Sesame Street Song, The People in Your Neighborhood.
Everyone you meet on Bermuda is so nice. I am not sugar-coating our visit or trying to be sappy; it is just a true statement! From the hostess who sat us at breakfast to the bus driver who stopped to pick us back up after we got off at the wrong stop without us having to flag him down, the native Bermudians seem to relish their chance to show visitors a gentile, hospitable, and welcoming island.
Our ferry captain was especially nice on the morning we took the hotel boat to Hamilton to go to St. George. His crew did not show up, but he did not appear angry, hostile, or even irritated. He just took it in stride and drove the ferry over to Hamilton as if the crew were all with us. Yes, we heard some couched sarcasm when some one asked who was driving the as he talked with us, but his retort actually complimented the person who questioned him!
Each, and every day, smiles and friendly, somewhat formal greetings met us while at the hotel or out in their community. Bermudians were anxious to satisfy our needs. They were willing to go out on a limb to induce comfort, allay hunger, and provide necessities like towels – even at ten o’clock at night. No one, and I do mean not anyone, appeared to be angry they were working during a national holiday weekend (according to one source Bermuda has a zero unemployment rate), that the visitors to the island increased their population by ten-fold (from 60,000 to 600,000 each year), or that you did not really seem to understand the bus token-transfer system (it does cause confusion for some).
All this politeness and consideration made me wish for a little more of this type of behavior at home! Do not get me wrong, we love the mid-west where most of the niceties of daily life are still in place. But, as our population density is increasing, I am finding more people so unhappy in their daily grind that it spills over onto the people they are in contact with – other community members, or visitors. We need to work harder, as the Bermudians do, to not allow this to happen.
My son and one of his former college roommates headed to our cabin this weekend. At dinner last night, the roommate asked, “Do you know everyone here?” clarifying that he met our community. I began my reply seriously, stating how our town’s population has increased three-fold since we moved here eighteen years ago. And then, I added, “no, and I do not want to know everyone, any longer.” The people in our neighborhood are changing, my role in the community is changing, and although I do not have the desire to know ALL the people in our neighborhood (community), I do think we would all do each other a favor if we took more of a Bermudian outlook on life and greeted everyone with a smile and friendly greeting. You see, it takes very little effort for the Bermudians to do this, and yet the effects and dividends are very real. You feel welcome. You feel wanted. You feel like you are part of the neighborhood. Is that not something we all want? We want to belong.
So, I will try to learn the lesson showed to me while visiting Bermuda. In fact, I started this week, smiling and chatting during our high school registration process. I talked to people I knew and to people who were new to me. The Bermudians know the people in their neighborhood, whether native or visitor. If you are a visitor, they make an effort to get to know you and beyond that show you a friendly, welcoming face. You are in their neighborhood, and they want to make your stay as nice as possible. Thank you Bermuda for this reminder. Thank you Sesame Street for sharing a catchy song that has stuck with me for half a century!
“Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood,
in your neighborhood,
in your neighborhood?
Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood,
the people that you meet each day?“
Jeffery Moss, 1969 © Festival Attractions, Inc.
© The Children’s Television Network, Inc. 1971