Disneyland may be the happiest place on earth, but I’d venture to say, Palm Springs is one of the most friendly places on the planet.
And, as we traverse these “times that try men’s souls” to quote Thomas Paine, there ain’t nuthin’ wrong with that.
Yes, I can already hear the “How can you make such assumptions? Have you seen some of the local posts on social media?”
Yes, setting those aside, I venture to say the majority of people who live out here do enjoy their lives and are a nice, good stock. My personal experience is that there is a certain friendliness to folks out here.
Coming from nasty, old L.A. where I was born and had lived my entire life, I was not accustomed to people saying “hello” to any passerby, nor to them gesturing “please go ahead” while in line at the supermarket.
When I first made Palm Springs permanent three years ago, as I walked my dog in the mornings, people would smile, wave and say “good morning” or “hello.”
At first it creeped me out.
I’ve seen “The Stepford Wives” and I was wondering how long it would take before they tried to recruit me into their group of zombie robots.
I would embarrassedly feign a “Uh, hi.”
After a while it began to soak in and it didn’t feel like such an effort to shoot back a “Well, hello there!”
I’ve learned, people like to say “hello” as it is an acknowledgement of another human being in their space. Their friendly smiles reflect that as well.
It’s not just people walking that proffer these kind gestures. Gardeners say “morning” as they go about their mowing, the post person gives a wave from his/her little van, and the UPS and FedEx delivery people give nods of their baseball caps.
It is like these people like life in the desert enough to want to share their appreciation and it reflects in their interactions with strangers.
Like them, I quickly came to embrace this feeling. Now, it no longer feels forced or untoward. It feels natural and it is the way I want to live – perhaps a bit friendlier than I had been during my working life.
While walking, I can always tell the visitors. They are usually hidden behind oversized sunglasses, wear bawdy straw hats like you might see at a beach resort and are always whispering with intensity on their cell phones. They may as well have been walking past a ghost for all you’d know.
When I say “hello,” at times I receive these vacant stares, akin to “You talkin’ to me?” Why yes, you’re the only person on this street.
It is these “I am so busy I don’t have time to acknowledge you” people that I have made my personal mission to convert (I know, kinda passive, right?). When I see one of these types getting ready to bowl me over in their path, I crack a wide smile and say “good morning.”
It totally throws them and forces them to look up from their phones – to see the beautiful desert mountains, our rich blue skies and fun and quirky inhabitants. I mean, isn’t that why you’re visiting?
I like to think of it as my small way of improving humanity.
I feel better after I say hello to people and it is definitely a good way to start your day. I think if more of us sought out that interaction, we all might be in a better space.
So, the next time you see another human being while on the street or in a supermarket or pumping gas, try a “Hello” or “Good day.”