So this is where it goes every year…

One of the many things we’ve enjoyed on vacation is how nice people are. From random strangers we pass walking on the beach with a smile and a “Morning,” to the locals at the “Friendliest bar in Myrtle Beach” (so named in 2006) that we stumbled on by a chance coupon deal, to the hotel staff arranging the poolside lounge chairs. I’m sure it’s a combination of realizing your livelihood depends on people liking to frequent your place of business (the professional courtesy) and the fact that people are generally happier at the beach, on vacation (the random courtesy).

I have heard more people say thank you, excuse me, and sorry (often for no real slight or misstep) more in the past week than I can remember in a long time at home. In fact, when staying with a friend a couple months ago at a large hotel downtown (in Pittsburgh), we were both annoyed by the lack of service mentality among the staff, especially because my friend was a paying customer in charge of managing her employer’s seminar there. I even commented on the fact that they didn’t seem to understand they were in the hospitality industry, and how poorly it reflected on the city.

Not so here. A few of the random niceties we’ve encountered: While we were at the sports bar having a late lunch — the only nonlocals in the place and the only people eating — some local guy, known to be a troublemaker apparently, wandered in and started annoying folks at the bar. Voices got a little heated, and the man was asked to leave, forcefully. It was practically over before we knew there was even an issue, but the owner/bartender/waiter came over, apologizing up and down how “things like that NEVER happen there” and feeling bad because it happened while these nice folks from Pennsylvania were visiting for the first time. To boot, he gave us a little card for a “free hug,” (which serves as their business card of sorts apparently), on which he wrote a note that it was good for two free drafts.

Seriously, how nice.

Then there was the conversation we struck up with the retired Air Force vet in the same bar. Turns out he was from Williamsport, PA, where Mike went to school for a couple years. We had a nice talk with him, too — another random stranger.

Just yesterday, we were taking a stroll on the beach and had just turned around to head back to our chairs when a man approached us, asking, “Would you folks like to share an ice cream bar on your walk?” and he handed us a box so we could have one. (And, it was one of those pricey Magnum bars that I’d eyed and wanted to try, but hadn’t yet.)

Seriously, how nice.

There was the waitress who took care to “warn” us not to try to pick up the ribs we’d ordered or we’d end up wearing them — they were that fall-off-the-bone. (And they were. Simply delicious.) The clerk at the muscle car museum who insisted we take a couple coupons to restaurants she enjoyed and recommended. The man working in our hotel who held the elevator door open for me even after I walked across his freshly swept floor in my soggy beach shoes.

It’s been so nice to be around pleasant people, and I’m sure we’ve been more pleasant than usual ourselves. Everyone seems to be trying to convey a good impression of themselves and the town they represent. And to be genuinely nice to one another.

Finally it hit me. No wonder people like it here so much: This is clearly the place where the Christmas spirit we all love (and wonder and lament why it doesn’t last longer) comes to spend the rest of the year.

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
~ Charles Dickens


  1. WritingbyEar said,

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    And again, just got back from dinner at a German restaurant. They had a great accordion player playing music that made me miss my dad. Afterward, we got to talking with him. Yep, he’s from Ohio but spent 2 years working in downtown Pittsburgh (as an accountant) — loves the ‘Burgh (better than Cleveland, ha ha). Moved to Myrtle to escape the weather — teaches accounting and does the accordion at various restaurants around town. We must’ve talked for a half hour. Small, friendly world down here. Oh, and he played “Eidelweiss” for us while sitting at our table…who doesn’t love The Sound of Music?

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    And again, talked to the salesperson at a small art studio/coffee shop we stopped at. As she was wrapping up our purchase of some local artist’s artwork, we got to talking. She moved down last year, from the Jersey Shore, a teacher who’s kids were now grown and who didn’t like what her “fat governor” was doing to the teacher’s pensions. She sold her house in a week and moved down here to a brand new house (in an area we visited last night) that cost half as much as the house she sold. She found it easy to find work, and she loves it here. Property taxes are MUCH lower, which makes up for higher sales and personal property taxes. Haven’t talked to one person who doesn’t love it here, but I guess if they hated it, they’d move somewhere else. Me…the jury is still out. It’s great when you’re on vacation and not working — would I really feel the same way if I had to endure the summer heat and crowds and work just like home?

    • Rege said,

      Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 5:36 am

      Teachers pensions are one reason her property taxes are MUCH lower.

      • WritingbyEar said,

        Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 8:51 pm

        Yes, Mike and I tried not to roll our eyes at the fat governor comment. She told us she was making $96K as a teacher (or was it $98K?). Stunning.

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