Friends visiting Venango County for the first time, especially those from cities and other countries, notice something that we may take for granted. Walking down the sidewalk, we tend to look people in the eye and share a greeting. "Hello." "Good morning." It's brief. It doesn't matter if we know the person or not. We tend to extend a greeting, acknowledging our shared existence to offer a pleasantry.
Another observation is that drivers tend to be less aggressive and sometimes are outright polite. We'll wave someone on allowing them to get ahead of us. Drivers here are more likely to slow down to let someone into our lane ahead of us.
Perhaps it's about context and feeling just a little more connected to one another. Newcomers soon learn that roots go deep here. A large part of the population has family history that lasts generations. Between family and classmates and people they've worked with through the years, there's often just one step between some connection to one another.
I cautioned a friend recently relocating here from a large city not to honk at people when driving. She could wind up across the table from that person in a meeting one day.
When you view strangers as somebody's cousin, possible neighbor or someone you may need to work with one day, you behave a little differently. Yes, we have aggressive and rude people around here. But our culture is generally gentle and polite so the aggressive and rude ones stand out as abnormal.
From my perspective, the world would be a better place if we greeted strangers as someone's cousin, a possible neighbor or someone with whom we need to work. If that's not your practice, try simply smiling and saying Hello to people. Then start adding a nice comment - "I like you hat." or "Don't you love this sunshine."
If you're having a bad day, it can change how you feel. When many of us are doing that, it changes how a community feels.