We (New Jersians) are called arrogant, obnoxious, rude, crude, brash . . . and more! But we don't care because we know that unless you're from New Jersey, you know how to not care about that. We just don't care what you say about us. We like the fact that you don't want to live here. What, did you think we didn't put all those oil refineries and dumps and broken down warehouses around Newark Liberty Airport for no reason? That's what most people think New Jersey is ... and we like it that way. Do you think we want you to know about all the great secret places there are in New Jersey so you may actually want to move here? Not on your life! (http://www.njattitude.com/)
It took me a while-- in fact, it bogged down this blog for many months, but I'm finally ready to say it: the New Jersey attitude is real, and it sucks.
You know what I mean when I talk about the New Jersey attitude. If you don't, please check out the link above.
I'm from the South, and most people there (even the transplants) are unfailingly polite. They show consideration for others. They smile and wave when they pass others on the street. They say please and thank you. They will offer to let you go first. They don't honk if someone is a half-second slow in getting away from a traffic light. They don't obstruct doorways. They have manners.
Even before I moved to New Jersey I had heard about the attitude there. I was prepared for the rumors not to be true, but you know, I finally had to admit they were.
My impression of New Jersey is that people here tend to be rude-- or rather, more people here are rude than other places I've lived-- yet I don't think it's something as simply as rudeness.There's an element of blue collar dignity involved, and self protection-- a Ratso Rizzo "I'm walking here!" sort of thing-- and an obliviousness or lack of caring about others.
I am of course speaking in generalities. There are certainly rude people in the South and painstakingly polite people all over New Jersey-- theoretically, anyway.
Here's an example from just one trip into the wilds of New Jersey:
Two days ago, when I approached the doors of the WalMart in Butler, two young women with carts and babies in arms were chatting just outside the double doors, managing to block the entire eight-foot front. As I approached they saw me, but did they move aside? No they didn't. They didn't move, didn't acknowledge me. They just kept right on talking. They didn't get out of the way until I politely asked them to, and they seemed mildly resentful at my having had the gall to ask.
I repeatedly found myself in aisles blocked by other shoppers with buggies stopped not to the left, not to the right, but in the middle of the aisles. They had to know I wished to get by, but they continued to examine their cans of Libby's French Style Green Beans or compare different brands of potato chips, making no effort to move their offending carts until I asked them to. When I did they moved their buggies immediately, but damn it, why did I have to ask?
In one case a shopper approached as I waiting patiently as a woman blocked a display, putting cans into her cart. When she finished and started to move away the shopper darted in front of me. She knew I was next. Fuck her.
Carts were three and four deep at the checkouts, but I was lucky enough to spot an empty lane. I stopped my cart and was reaching into it to place my goods on the conveyor when a grandmotherly woman bullishly pushed her cart in front of me. And yeah, it was loaded to the frigging brim. I was steaming at her effrontery, but held my peace.
As I left the store, guess what? Yeah. A middle-aged woman in front of me stopped in the doorway and began to examine her cart. Not five feet in front of the doorway. Not five feet past the doorway. IN the damned doorway! Her husband obligingly blocked the rest of the doorway while she dawdled.
To clinch things, after I backed out of my parking space I was unable to move forward because a woman and her prepubescent son were wandering directly in front of me. And what did the idiot behind me do? Yeah, you guessed it-- blew their damned horn!
If all this happened once or twice, or a dozen times over the two and a quarter years I have lived here, I might have thought it just the nature of a few rude and obnoxious people, but it happens all the time. I didn't want to believe it was a Jersey thing, but yeah, it's a Jersey thing.
Of course people in and from New Jersey are nice to me all the time. They do say hello. They hold entrance doors open so they don't close in your face. They do let you go first. But I have to say, I wish some other people would get a clue.