Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let Me Rephrase

I almost added more to the haiku explaining why I was pondering how a place like Tulsa with so very many wonderfully friendly people could also have so much more crime per capita than most places I've lived (higher compared to the Portland, Oregon area from where I just moved and so much higher than the national average). I almost added more about my thoughts, but I didn't. So I will now.

I'm in heaven being in a place where people chat and connect and are just plain super polite, friendly and just NICE. We arrived on Tuesday. I'm writing this on Friday night (to publish on Saturday, just because), and already it's been happening like this, seriously, no embellishment:
  • I know the name of one handyman at the apartment and have explained (when prompted and then asked further questions) all about the joys of the stovetop espresso maker, where to get one for how much, how to use it and know that it's now something he will give someone for Christmas.
  • I know what state the cable guy is from, that his mom lives not too far from where I used to live, that his parents divorced when he was young and that he used to have snowball fights wearing shorts and that he has at least two Christian songs as ringback tones on his cell phone.
  • The other handyman? I know where his sister-in-law lives, what country he is from, how long he's been here and why, where they spent Thanksgiving and how long ago his brother died.
  • A girl in an office I visited had a baby with her boyfriend who is from Michigan, but he still thinks Tulsa gets really cold.
  • The guy doing laundry at the laundromat has a beautiful daughter who is about 5 years old, he goes to the same laundromat regularly and is chatty with the older woman at the counter (who is also sweet as pie!), moved here about 5 years ago from another state, finds Tulsa to be different in many good ways, is a huge fan of Jesus (according to his tshirt) and is thrilled that the cost of living here is cheaper than where he used to live (though I can't say the same compared to my expenses in Oregon). It cost his friend here over $600 for license plate tags but only cost him $96 - based on value or something.
  • The woman who works at WalMart over near the vacuum cleaners had a hell of a time during the big ice storm that was almost exactly one year ago, and while the power was out for days on end, she and her husband camped out in the garage, lucky to have the appropriate gear, and they took meals to the neighbors.
  • The man behind me at Aldi kindly gave me his raffle ticket thingies after I'd asked the clerk just what they were and how to find out about the winner.
  • At the WalMart deli, the older woman with her husband in front of me ordered some lunch meat. It kind of took awhile. Then she ordered some cheese, which they nicely separate with paper so that the slices do not stick together, and she turned around to politely and sweetly apologize to me that it would take longer, to which I replied that it was no trouble at all since I really wasn't in any hurry, even if I kind of was. Until she said that. Then I suddenly felt less in a hurry and more in love with people like her.
  • When it was my turn at the deli and I'd been staring off into space instead of noticing the guy behind the counter handing me the turkey breast, he called me "ma'am" to get my attention, as does pretty much every other person at most stores or restaurants in the area, and they call Tom "sir." I respect the idea of respect, but even "sweetie" or "hon" is OK with me in lieu of "ma'am" and makes me feel at home here, even if I know it annoys some people. It ain't for everyone, but it is for me.
  • When the waiter at Steak and Shake (yay, missed them!) served our burgers missing the mushrooms that were to be on them, he immediately and without our asking amended our bill to give us the cheese fries for free (OMG, so good, even when not free), brought out extra mushrooms and extra cheese, offered us each a free drink to go (even though only Tom had oredered a soda - he thought maybe I'd like a Sprite or something to go since I'd just had water), so we in turn felt inspired to tip him close to 50% because we were blown away by the service.
  • Sure, not every single time, but generally people in the stores have been quick to move out of the way if blocking the aisle and are very big on saying "excuse me" when appropriate.
  • This list could be longer, but those are the ones at the top of my mind.
All this, which really hasn't been my experience since back when I lived in the Midwest way long ago, and yet there is so much crime here, comparatively, and so much of it that strikes literally so close to home. It's unsettling and kind of eerie-ish. It makes a safety girl like me wonder.

According to Sperling's Best Places:
Tulsa, OK, violent crime, on a scale from 1 (low crime) to 10, is 7. Violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The US average is 3.

Tulsa, OK, property crime, on a scale from 1 (low) to 10, is 7. Property crime includes the offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. The object of the theft-type offenses is the taking of money or property, but there is no force or threat of force against the victims. The US average is 3.

Why? In a place that has so many nice people? Why? I don't know the answer. I'm sure there are a million factors, some I've considered and some I haven't, but I just can't help but wonder, perhaps too simply on Friday in haiku format, could one part of it be that some people here, not overgeneralizing to everyone, certainly, but some, are so trusting that it makes them more likely to leave a door unlocked or a wallet on the seat of the car or a purse in the shopping cart or whatever else due to having a sense that the city around us is as friendly as all those people above I've met? I've read about such - people upset that someone stole a social security card and cell phone and credit cards and purse from the car, when I can't imagine leaving mine on the front seat, but is it because I'm from places where that has never been a good idea? Did it used to be OK here but then just no longer is while some still have old habits? I could be totally wrong. I'm not sure, just speculating.

A fair amount of poverty is probably another factor related to the crime, and it would also explain why some policies with the cable company, apartments, electric company, etc. tend to be the very opposite of trusting to the point of utter ludicrousness (battles with each now behind us, thankfully).

Just wondering aloud, trying to piece it all together.

No, nobody ever deserves to be a victim of a crime, and yes, it happens everywhere and to all kinds of folks. Please don't misunderstand. And, yes, good people are a very GOOD and WONDERFUL thing, and I will continue to very much appreciate to the point of totally *love* interacting with friendly people and going out of my way to be that much more nice and sweet and polite because it's practically contagious in a beautiful way if you let it be. I'm that kind of a girl. Tom always knew I'd love it here for that reason, and he couldn't have been more right.

That said, I'm locking my doors no matter how friendly my neighbors are, I'm not leaving anything of any value in my car no matter where I park, I'm going to be very aware in parking lots - whether day or night, I'm already heeding the advice I read on local news not to carry a purse so as to reduce my chance of becoming a victim (reduce, not eliminate entirely, of course), and I'm continuing to trust the instinct that has saved me in the past, all while I smile and melt at the kindness of some of the friendliest folks I've ever had the pleasure of meeting while carrying out the day to day stuff of life.

The juxtaposition of so much good vs. so much bad in the same place will continue to cause me wonderment probably for as long as I live here. Why is a fair question, and the answer probably has many facets, including, maybe, perhaps, at least in part and at least some of the time, the friendliness factor. Maybe not. Still, that's what I love most so far about being here. OK, well, second most after being by my Tom.

12 comments:

  1. you've sure gathered a lot of information about your neighbours in a short time. that's all. concentrate on the positive...

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  2. I'm sorry if maybe I seemed to scold in my comment on your last post. I think maybe I had a thorn in my paw.

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  3. When I read that I thought of the saying: keep your friends close but your enemies closer. And the reason I thought this is because the people who have done the most harm have been some of the friendliest people!!! think about pediphiles etc.... their overly nice to lure you in etc...
    Great writing!!!

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  4. "...it makes them more likely to leave a door unlocked or a wallet on the seat of the car or a purse in the shopping cart or whatever else due to having a sense that the city around us is as friendly as all those people above I've met."

    I think you are really on to something here. I've lived here most of my life (albeit in the OKC area) and I am guilty of doing much of what you wrote there. Even though I know better. Still, I'm glad you like it here in OK so far.

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  5. Some of that is perception because of where you are. We'll take a drive some time... not all of Tulsa is like where you are staying. Actually, much of it is not. Also, Tulsa has a major gang problem, which contributes heavily to its crime rate.

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  6. You hit the nail on the head with a lot of what you say when it comes to our experience during our exile to Houston. One thing that drove me batty about the south compared to the NW was the willingness of everyone you met to open up and be your best friend. In the deli line at the grocery store, at the gas station, in the front yard, etc. I'm just too NWesty for that to fly I guess. The crime thing baffles me though - the crime in Houston was out of control. A security guard was burnt to death in his car across the street from Bryan's office building one night. Just looking it didn't look like that bad of an area. I guess poverty may have a lot to do with it, but I'm just not sure what the underlying cause is. An interesting sociological study for sure.

    At least you and Tom are together now and that's the most important thing! :)

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  7. Are you sure the niceness of people won't get to you? Coz there's just an amazing element of fun to bulldoze your way through grocery store aisles! :)

    Friendliness has nothing to do with what a person is capable of doing, I am just like Maggie, as my only gauge of risks from a person is my instincts. There are the meanest people around but often it's plain harmless and has to do with personalities. Then there are people who reek of anger and faulty moral composure. I have my opinion on Tulsa, but it's an outsider opinion... Is there some sort of neighborhood crime rankings report you can look up?

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  8. That's one of the things I really miss about "home" (Nebraska) is just how friendly, open and nice people can be.

    I hope you really enjoy Tulsa! It sounds like you are focused on the good things...

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  9. Continue to ba a "safety girl" Maggie! You know, Jeffery Dahmer looked pretty damn normal from a distance! I don't think being "safety" is being jaded or cynical....just necessary! Not all people in this world have good intentions! I do recall my parents telling me as a child growing up not to take candy from strangers and if someone tries to stop thier car and talk to me, not to talk to strangers! Now days, its been a long time since I was a child and am not longer six years old when I heard the original warnings. I am a grown up and I do talk to strangers but I, like you have been saved by my gut feelings more often than I would like to admit. If someone seems creepy or like thier motives are off, I leave quickly! I think you and Tom will be fine in Tulsa! I love hearing stories about your new life!
    Peace,
    Diva

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  10. I'm so glad to hear that you're finding the people there friendly and warm. It certainly sounds like you may be onto something. But I'm also glad to hear you're still playing "safety girl."

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  11. Ah, one thing I miss about living in Missouri - how very friendly everyone was. Never in a hurry, very rarely rude. Of course, I lived out in the country, which I'm sure makes a difference. Everyone and anyone holds doors open for you in MO, here in NH, people are usually in too much of a rush, and just plain rude anyway - at least that's true when I'm where there are a lot of people, but then, that's in a city, or at least urban area. Where we live, it isn't like there is ever anyone else around to hold the door open for you - it would require someone else being at the store at the same time! :-)

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