Friday, January 15, 2010

Culture Shock (a tiny blog)

The culture shock moving from Mississippi to California last summer was not so bad. I have had it worse. I taught in the Middle East quite a bit—slightly different culture.
The greatest culture shock of my life, however, was my move from Atlanta to small-town Mississippi in June of 1986, to my first pastoral appointment at the ripe old age of twenty-seven. My ex, a native Mississippian, was particularly concerned about my “driving style.”
I learned to drive in Atlanta, where you drive by intimidation or you die. I used my horn frequently. That was her concern. She was afraid that my city-boy automobile operations would alienate the Mississippi locals before we could get unpacked.
“What if somebody is about to plow into me?”
“Get out of the way,” she said.
“What the heck is the horn installed in the car for if I can’t use it?”
But she was emphatic:
One: “Never expect anyone to use turn signals.”
Two: “Never use your horn.”
I argued with her until she told me this little vignette:
A man once honked at a lady (her name withheld to protect the guilty) for failing to use her blinker. She came to a complete stop . . . , she looked in her rear-view mirror . . . , and she memorized the face of the man she would never forgive.
Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is culture shock.
Over the years I have found most Mississippians to be remarkably gracious. But be advised, city slickers: In Mississippi there is no grace for honkers.
[Written in Mississippi and posted from Georgia with love and appreciation for the the two states I have called home. ---Bert]