Extra-Extra Politeness

I’ve not­ed in pre­vi­ous post­ings (at least I think I have…) that since we’ve moved here, we’ve noticed a dis­tinct lev­el of polite­ness that is quite dif­fer­ent from the typ­i­cal pub­lic con­duct we saw in Boston. It may be a West Coast ver­sus East Coast thing, or per­haps (as many oth­ers have point­ed out) a Cana­di­an ver­sus US thing. It could also be due to the fact that Boston is well-known as the rud­est city in Amer­i­ca (par­tic­u­lar­ly with regard to dri­vers). I’m not sure, as if all rea­sons are cor­rect, per­haps we expe­ri­enced a triple-wham­my increase (Boston to not-Boston, East to West, US to Cana­da) in politeness.

Last year, we weren’t out as much around Christ­mas and New Years. We were both not employed yet, and per­haps not as bold as one even­tu­al­ly gets when it comes to ven­tur­ing out in bad weath­er. There­fore, we did­n’t get to expe­ri­ence the tru­ly aston­ish­ing behav­ior that is Christ­mas Sea­son Best Behav­ior West-Coast Cana­di­an Polite­ness.

I can’t recount any par­tic­u­lar­ly mem­o­rable exam­ples of this, but I am con­stant­ly see­ing strangers hold­ing doors for one anoth­er, nod­ding and wish­ing each oth­er well, cars wait­ing while pedes­tri­ans cross, and hard­ly honk­ing their horns when some­one is hold­ing up traf­fic. The tellers at the bank are extreme­ly cour­te­ous. The sole excep­tion was a rather curt fel­low who took my pho­to for some Immi­gra­tion paper­work at the mall today. Still, he was­n’t rude; just not up to the triple (or now, quadruple)-level polite­ness of every­one else.

I won­der if there’s a drop-off in the pub­lic cour­tesy quo­tient in mid-Jan­u­ary. Does the Feb­ru­ary Valen­tines Day build-up change this, or is this hol­i­day only intend­ed to be a mod­i­fi­er of behav­ior between couples?

2 Replies to “Extra-Extra Politeness”

  1. Hi from Japan,
    I’ve been liv­ing in Kumamo­to, Japan (in Kyushu island) for the past 5 years, and I can tell the peo­ple are much nicer here than the place where I grew up. I won­der if there is any par­tic­u­lar time in the year that makes peo­ple behave nice to each oth­ers in Japan. Per­haps, it could be a new year’s day.

  2. Hi Quinn!

    I bet the whole time of year is prob­a­bly tra­di­tion­al­ly a time when humans have been kinder to each oth­er for thou­sands of years, across many dif­fer­ent cultures. 

    Per­haps there is sur­vival val­ue in civ­i­liza­tions when the cli­mate con­di­tions get harsh­er (I bet that it was best to treat one’s neigh­bor with extra con­sid­er­a­tion if there was a pos­si­bil­i­ty that you might have to ask them to share their food with you before the win­ter is over.)

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