Editorial: Rappahannock rude

Rappahannock County is sometimes compared to the Hamptons on eastern Long Island, in that both provide weekend getaways for well-heeled Big Washingtonians and Manhattanites, respectively. If the analogy is correct, this newspaper should soon should add a “Rappahannock Rude” link to its website — to match TheRudeHamptons.com, where readers are invited to “vent your rude encounters with your neighbors.”

But I prefer to think that Rappahannockers retain their special quality of old-fashioned manners, gentleman- and ladylike politeness plus Southern charm. After all, that is one of the attractions for stressed-out city folk wanting to escape crowded living, angry outbursts and swinging elbows.

Still, I must confess, this newspaper is beginning to receive an increasing number of reports of rudeness:

The newcomer who in a jesting voice yells across the room at a friend and fellow newcomer: “Hey, Farmer John!” The others in the room — some real (not hobby!) farmers — are far from amused.

The public official (for now unnamed) who refuses to acknowledge phone calls and emails, much less courteously return them.

The impatient fellow who must value his time as more important than others and is seen butting in line, so subtly it’s more like slipping or slithering rather than outright butting.

The strangers who disdainfully refuse to reciprocate waves, hellos, nods or other gentle greetings.

Let’s just hope these incidents do not portend a trend.

For the “Great Divide” in any community is not so much between Republican and Democrat, Yankee and Rebel, rich and poor or black and white but, rather, between those who are courteous and those who are not. Nothing is more corrosive to the social fabric than thoughtless and discourteous behavior.

Walter Nicklin

1 Comment

  1. This editorial was seriously thought-provoking. I hope it hit some raw nerves, for there’s a lot of stuff simmering, actually bubbling, under the surface of this quiet, rural welcoming Rappahannock.
    When I first moved here in 2007, I was fortunate to have folks around me who gently introduced me to some of the idiosyncrasies of the county, its rich history, cherished traditions and ongoing sensitivities. But of late, I, too, have noticed unwelcome changes.
    This is a gentle place, and Rappahannock’s time-honored traditions should be upheld — from the two-fingered greetings of hello while driving by your neighbor on a country road, to picking box turtles up off the asphalt and quietly placing them to safety, to letting a black snake or squirrel across the road rather than intentionally try to run it over and so much, so very much more.
    Let’s hope that Rappahannock isn’t becoming a Potemkin Village — an impressive showy facade designed to mask undesirable facts.

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