Monday, August 20, 2012

Twinkie

Last week I worked with a real character...let's call him Jerry. 

Jerry is in his middle 60's and owns his own business so he's used to calling the shots. 

Jerry is fast-talking and forthright.  He looks you in the eye and calls it like he sees it.  He doesn't pull any punches as he tells it to you "like it is" with his deep Boston accent.

Down here in North Carolina, Jerry is what many Southerners would consider a real Yankee.

Now I'm a Yankee too in my way.  (SM and I both come from Ohio.  Ohio is kind of like a kissing-cousin to a real Yankee.  Real Yankee's hail from places like New Yawk, and Baawstin.)  

Anyway, when we first moved down here 14 years ago, I would often hear the comment "You ain't from around here are ya?"  (Little did I know that I gave myself away by my lack of chit-chat, my fast talking ways and my directness.)

You see, Southerners just don't go for that.  There's a protocol for speaking in the South.  You gotta warm up to a conversation with a Southerner.  Talk about the weather for a few minutes before you get to the point.  "How ya'll doing today?"  "Listen to them cicadas!"  "Damn it's hot!"  "How's your Mama doing?"

I've learned to slow it down a bit, to be more sociable and "tippy-toe" around an issue before getting into it with a Southerner.  

It's funny.  I haven't been called a Yankee in many, many years.  I guess I've been absorbed into culture.  Yankees can have their melting pot.  Southerners get slow roasted and Bar-B-Qued.

For all his year's living here in the Carolina's, Jerry still hasn't been "absorbed."  I bet Jerry gets called "Yankee" alot, and not just because of his accent.

"Before we get staaa-ted, I want to let you know what I will and won't do.  All you ladies ask me to do the same thing and I've got my own story of angst to tell."  Jerry comes at me right out of the shoot, eyes sparking and fingers pointing. 

(Angst.  Now that's not a word you hear every day:)

I laughed out loud. 

Swear to God I did. 

I couldn't help myself.  (Fortunately I didn't piss him off.) 

"Well, I tell ya Jerry, I've been married to a fellow for 26 years and he can let loose some "angst" of his own on me from time to time.  So go ahead...Spill."  I said with a smile as I sat back to hear his story of woe.

Jerry was here for a second opinion and told me his story straight up and in your face.  No tap dancing with Jerry.  I gave him my full attention and took notes.  And after we got through all the important stuff, I took some time to chit-chat with him.  (Like any good Southerner would.)

You see, I LIKED Jerry and I could tell by the way Jerry was laughing and smiling he liked me just fine too.  (Yankees always like me cause I understand them.  They feel comfortable with me.  I can fall back into my Yankee-ness with a snap of my fingers.) 

We sat back and talked about being Yankees in the South.  Traded war stories so to speak. 

And after Jerry left, some of my "Southern" co-workers came up to me and told me how glad they were that I took him back and worked him up. 

"Wasn't he mean?"  They asked.

"Naw...He's a Twinkie!"  (Twinkie is a term I use to describe someone who's all tough on the outside but once you get to know them they're a cream-filled sponge cake on the inside.  There's LOTS of Twinkies out there.)




"But he was so in your face."  Said another gal. 

"No...He's just direct.  That's how most Northerners are."  I explained.

"He intimidated me."  Says another, younger co-worker.  "Scared me to death."

"Aw...He's fine.  All bark, no bite."  I said with a wave of my hand.

"Well, you can work with him when he comes back in."  Was the general consensus.

"I'd be glad to."  I said with a big ole smile.

It's not everyday that you run into a real Yankee...@;)

9 comments:

  1. For the most part, I think most people are "decent"...they just have different ways about them. Up here, we dread the "down-staters"--they're always in a hurry, impatient as all heck--you can tell them by there constant fidgeting in line. But, having been "down-state" a few times on business, I guess I see why they're on overdrive. The pace down there is NUTS....very very fast. I'm always so glad to get back home............
    That said, I have to say---SOUTHERNERS are THE most polite, laid back folks I have EVER encountered. Even laid-back me must seem "intense" to them......

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  2. My people have been in the south since before there was a south and I don't understand the slowness sometimes. I was digging post holes by hand one day and a guy who rents the farm came up and talked about everything from the grass to the sunshine and I dug and put in a post before he finally got to the point that my truck was blocking the road as he had a wide load to come through the driveway. Damn, spit it out, I'm busy! Oh no am I turning into a yankee?

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  3. I came to the same conclusion as Sue after a trip to the southeast many years ago. People could not have been nicer or more pleasant. Made me wonder how in the world they stay that way while dealing with all the impolite (rude) folks from other states in a more northerly direction!

    I also bet Jerry went home with some high praises regarding his meeting with YOU!

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  4. Loved this post Tami, such excellent observations about the social differences of the two groups. Having heard the "you ain't from around here are ya?" numerous times myself, I couldn't help but chuckle. Actually I think the slowness (in all things) is a result of the heat. Seriously, who feels like going a million miles an hour when it's so hot!

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  5. As a new "Yankee" in the southern kings court...this made my day :) Love it!

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  6. I love this. I am a yankee from the UP of Michigan, but have been living in Alabama for 22 years. People still ask me where I'm from LOL

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  7. Welcome to all the "Wannabe" Yankee's out there in the world! Nice to meet ya'll SBFarm, Steph and Kelly!

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  8. Found you via Leigh - and loved the post. I am a product of Yankee parents, born in the south, then relocated north. You are right on spot - it's so hard for me to put the brakes on and dosey-do around the point a few times before making it. But, actually, I think it's a rather nicer way to communicate.

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  9. Thanks for stopping by Susan! Leigh's blog is great isn't it?

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