I hang my head in shame.
Up until a week or so ago I gave no credit to any state below the Mason-Dixon line. Heck, it’s people like me that probably helped start the Civil War. But I do say now that five days in Nashville and Memphis taught me an awful lot.
Today I feel I have a new appreciation for the south, for country music and for all of the people I met while on my trip. The one exception was a rude woman at the Holiday Inn and I know for a fact she isn’t someone from the south. In fact, I bet she’s from Philly or North Jersey. It’s all in the ‘tude.
To begin with, let’s examine the Philadelphia International Airport. Now I realize the folks who work there have tens of thousands of people to deal with – including people like me – but hey, I’m not rude. Lots of faults but I don’t think being rude is one of them. All I was looking for was some help and maybe a smile or two.
Regardless, the vacation started with an attempt to check in baggage and get boarding passes via one of the zillion kiosks. The USAirways folks weren’t exactly helpful. All they did is point me to a vacant kiosk which of course didn’t work properly. Finally I quizzed a German fellow traveling and asked him how these dumb machines worked. Sure enough they weren’t working right and we at last got some help. Reluctant help mind you, but help.
TSA. Don’t even get me started. I get the security issues but honestly I just don’t see it. They are full body scanning 4-year-olds. For real? And I took my shoes off so many times I wished I had worn slippers. But in any event, the young man taking care of us put the same bag through the scanning device maybe three or four times. Finally I asked what he wasn’t seeing the first, second or third times. Well sure enough it was my wife’s lotion, my deodorant (yes indeed) and some other toiletry items. That’s all he had to say. The delay was endless and we were pushing it as we had to get to Gate F, two terminals away. So, I had to take a carry-on bag and go back to the first place I was and check it in for another $25. Don’t get me started on that license to steal either.
After checking in the extra bag I returned up the stairs only to be told I had to re-enter the security line of 50 people. I reminded Mr. TSA that he told me I could skip the huge line and go through the smaller line. After blinking several times I guessed he understood and he put me through the shorter line. I reminded the folks that the plane was leaving in 13 minutes and asked if we could move things along. I was half kidding. I am guessing personality and a sense of humor ain’t on their job descriptions.
Well the three of us hustled and made it to the gate just as they were about to write us off. The plane of course sat on the runway for 15 minutes or so but at last we made it to Nashville. The Nashville Airport folks are way nice. They are friendly, helpful and do their best to make you feel comfortable. There even was a guy singing country music while walking through the terminal. In Philly? Heck, we just flip off people from out of the area.
Once in Tennessee I ran into a lot of people and other than the grumpy Holiday Inn lady, everyone was awesome. We had a breakfast in Hurricane Hills, Tennessee, where the waitress and her co-workers were taking care of us like we were part of the family. The rental car guy was funny and made jokes about being a University of Kentucky basketball fan and how that was a no-no in Tennessee.
From the people on the General Jackson steamboat cruise, to the waiter in the Wildhorse Saloon and the tour guides at Graceland, people in the south seem to be just nicer than those in the northeast. They seem kinder, gentler and more tolerant than we are “up here.”
And the music? Well, I am an official newbie and lover of country music. The ballads are beautiful and their songs are wonderful. They tell stories of real life. They honor old folks and veterans of wars and things like that. They’re respectful artists. There’s no twerking going on, no tongue waggling. Yuck. Yeh, some people call it cheesy and hokey but I liked it. Lee Greenwood sang his “Proud to be an American” song and yes, I admit I felt all patriotic. So what? You know sometimes it’s OK to feel that way. Beats feeling all stressed out, eh?
And Memphis was an experience as well. Touring Elvis’ house was a cool experience. Seeing where he lived and in fact where he’s buried was impressive. Again, the people could not have been nicer.
We had a great time. I’d go back again for a visit. Upon returning to Philly we went down an escalator to the baggage claim. I was confused as to where our stuff would be coming from and what did I get? A guy just pointed to the claim area. Didn’t speak. Just pointed. Welcome home.
— Andy Hachadorian