I recently got back from a vacation in Florida. I’m not trying to make you jealous. That’s just a side benefit.
We had great weather, a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with a group of manatees and some fantastic seafood.
But the most striking thing to me was how friendly everyone was in the tourist town we visited.
The woman behind the deli counter gave me advice about local restaurants, as did the captain of a pontoon boat that took us on a bay cruise, and the guy who parked our car at one of those restaurants told us about a beautiful nearby beach he insisted we should visit.
When I stumbled into a Publix supermarket 15 minutes before it opened one morning (I hadn’t yet had my coffee) the employees went out of their way to help me and opened a register early to let me pay for my cinnamon rolls. I tried to imagine what kind of Jersey attitude I would have gotten if I’d pulled the same stunt up here.
Everywhere we went, people asked us where we were from and offered free advice.
Of course, these people make their living by dealing with tourists. You might expect they’d be nice and friendly to visitors.
Except, if you live at the Jersey shore, where the same conditions apply, you know that’s not always the case.
We’ve all had the experience of going into a shore business and feeling as though we were bothering the people who worked there, or weren’t making our selections fast enough. (Gotta make that money in the summer.)
The difference in attitude on our Florida island was striking, and it made me wonder how much good we could all do for the local economy just by taking more of an interest in our visitors.
Not an original thought, I realize. But still pretty much an untested one.