Friendliness - a lost custom
I live in a suburb of Los Angeles, Valencia. It’s a great place to live. It also used to be a friendly place. But, not so much anymore. And, I imagine that what has happened to my town as it has grown is probably what has also happened in towns all over America. Maybe in other countries, too. People have gotten too busy, in too much of a hurry, too self concerned to take the time to be friendly. Let me tell you how things have changed in Valencia.
This used to be a friendly place. Everyone smiled. Everyone said “hello”. or “Good morning”, or “Have a nice day”. Maybe “How’s it going?”.
It was 1972 when I came here. This valley was mostly all onion or carrot fields and very few streets. You didn’t have to look both ways to cross Lyons Avenue - you knew no traffic was coming, and if there was, drivers would honk to greet you - not to give you the finger.
There were probably only about 10,000 people in the Santa Clarita Valley. We’re right over the hill from the million people in the San Fernando Valley, so growth was inevitable. Unfortunately, in the process we lost the friendliness.
When I walk Valencia’s beautiful paseos, more people than not don’t say hello. They don’t even smile or nod. They pass right by as if I was not there. What’s with that? You’d think they would at least make eye contact, instead of looking the other way. Why not acknowledge there is human being in your way?
Bicyclists in our area may be even less friendly than walkers. All tucked in with their spandex suits and helmets, they pass me on a bicycle as they go in the opposite direction and seldom even glance at me. I guess, being a motorcyclist, I’m used to being waved at by other motorcyclists. But not so with bicyclists.
Maybe if I donned a multi-colored stretch outfit the other bicyclists would acknowledge me. Recently, I was on a sidewalk that was too narrow for cyclists riding in opposite directions. Another bicyclist was coming toward me, so I moved aside to make room for him to pass. He didn’t even look at me as he passed. No word of thanks for my courtesy, not even a nod.
Crossing the street can get you killed. Even if you’re in a crosswalk, lots of drivers are in too big a hurry to stop or even slow down. Some even honk, as if to say, “Get the hell of my way”.
This is still a great place to live. And now we have the benefit (?) of a big beautiful mall, strip centers, restaurants, shops and theaters. But I miss the old days. So come on people - lighten up. Take time to smile, to nod - maybe even say hello. It won’t hurt.
In fact, you may be surprised at how good it makes you feel, especially when the other person smiles back.
If you enjoy nostagia, and if you like motorcycles, you would probaby enjoy my book, OVER THE HANDLEBARS, First published in 1975, then updated and enlarged in 2006, it is a collection of short stories and articles about all aspects of motorcycling. It is available from Amazon.com. I also have written two other books about motorcycling availalbe from Amazon.com. You can read all 3 of them on your computer for just $2.99 each. Go to motorcyclenostalgia.com.