It is not easy getting into the flow of life in a new place in just a few weeks. Although we share many similarities – all Lisa and have to do is speak about three words in public and people here will know we ain’t from Pennsylvania. I have written much about the hospitality we have experienced here and while people have been friendly – this place does not always feel like home.
There could not be anything more symbolic of our struggle to get into the flow of life here than the struggle we have had trying to (literally) merge our vehicle into traffic. In the south it is a standard courtesy (if not the law) that you move over into the outside lane when a car is merging onto the highway to your right. This allows the merging vehicle to smoothly and safely get into the flow of traffic. Not here. The lack of courtesy extended to cars merging into traffic upsets me some – but Lisa flies into a full blown – head spinning rage. She has even screamed for me to go ahead and move into our God given lane whether the idiots move over or not. To hell with them and to hell with scrapping the side of our car or taking off my left arm – we’ll show them who’s boss.
People here have not learned this common southern driving courtesy and when Lisa asked her co-workers about it they looked at her kind of funny wondering what she was talking about. To their defense most of the roads here are two lane country roads and there are very few four lane highways in the area. But there are some and when we have traveled those (which we do twice per day) we can’t seem to merge smoothly. When this happens we miss home and the southern way of driving.
In the meantime Lisa and I will continue trying to merge ourselves into life here in south/central Pennsylvania (for at least the next eight weeks). Interestingly we have found that people really like our “southern way” and while the people here are more standoffish and business like – Lisa’s personality (as long as she is not trying to merge into traffic) is very caring and sensitive to patients and co-workers and has won over many. She has commented that once she has broken the ice – people seem almost hungry for that type of kindness and warmth.
LIkewise as we try to merge ourselves into the community here – we are not necessarily met with resistence but the lane is not always open to us. Its just not home.
Take care and merge carefully – please!