Wednesday, June 23, 2010

That's the spirit

I am still thoroughly enjoying living in the town we moved to nearly three years ago. This is a place where community spirit feels very strong. Due to the lay of the land, it has not had the opportunity to sprawl into surrounding suburbs so much, and this has helped create the feeling of a closeness - but not closed in.

Now that we have been here a few years, I know many of the regular walkers and town "characters". The gorgeous people at the post office (who know me by PO box number, not necessarily name and jokingly greet me by said number whenever they see me); the odd bank manager who wanders down to the shops on her lunch break, looking dazed and blinking in the harsh sunlight; the elderly neighbour who "borrows" a shopping trolley to cart his shopping home, saying loudly to all passers-by that he is NOT stealing it for a joy ride and he will return it post haste and then returns it back up the street, just as loudly proclaiming he's returning it (and he does this no matter if there is anyone in sight or not.... he's a funny one but highly entertaining); the local busybody who knows everyone and everything (always good to keep conversation to a minimum with those ones, I have found!).

Each time we step out the front door, the charm of the people as a collective strikes me again. The other day, my bins had been wheeled in from the street for me. Yesterday, I saw a different neighbour doing the same for someone else across the way. Last week, another neighbour and his father fixed 10 metres of picket fencing for their old neighbour, recently widowed and away on a short holiday with his children. The fence fixing was completely impromptu and done as a matter of "got to be done, so we may as well do it for him so he doesn't have to think about it when he gets home."

When we had the bushfires, everyone within 20 or so houses banded together, knocked on doors, kept everyone accounted for. The CFA had not long since gone up our street calling for residents to evacuate now or prepare to fight ember attack on our homes. There was a group decision made to stay and fight. It still chokes me up to remember it.

All these sorts of things were quite unheard of for Steve and me in our last home (where we lived for 11 years). But yesterday, I saw something that made me think again.

The LGBB and I were waiting to cross the busy entrance to the local shopping mall. We were walking home, bags in hands, waiting for cars to leave before we attempted to cross. The first car came up, driven by a young male on his P plates. He made eye contact with me and I waved him through. He gave the international index-finger "thank you" salute and drove out. The second car did the same, this one driven by an older female, who smiled warmly at my little girl as I waved her through. Giving one last check in all directions, we decided to wait for a car that was driving up the road, in case it was turning in. This car's driver made no attempt to look at me, acknowledge that there were pedestrians waiting for her, or even (incredulously) to slow down all that much as she zoomed into the driveway of the mall's carpark. It was lucky we had decided not to chance a crossing in front of her because she was so intent. This one was driven by a woman who was my age, baby seat in back.

It's not the first time I have noticed that the people who usually DON'T smile and say "good morning" as we walk past (either myself on my own or with the LGBB), and the people who don't consider anyone around them and just barge on through.... are mothers of young children!

Don't get me wrong, I realise this is probably a broad generalisation and heaven knows we all have times when there is plenty on our minds - there are plenty of mums around here who are as gorgeous and friendly as the next person, and I know I am very mindful of letting someone through or not holding them up. But invariably, it's a mum in the 30s-40s age range who behaves as if she is SO busy that everyone else can just wait, I have noticed. Damn or be damned, perhaps. I think it is highlighted to me because our town has a very elderly population, all of whom are quick to say hi. Even the young teenagers are generally very considerate. And then there are these women - busy, no doubt, but coming across as quite belligerent.

It got me thinking. As a collective, do you think we are too "the world OWES me" in our attitudes towards others? If you are not a mother, do you identify a similar attitude in your gender/age bracket/home town? Are you ever ashamed to be included in the Motherhood? I never thought I would say it, but sometimes... just sometimes, I am.

Archived Posts


Related Posts with Thumbnails