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Wednesday, April 23, 2014




What is the dynamic that allows some people to act like giant dicks without repercussion, while others who are gentle and compassionate sometimes are held to a higher standard?

In the northeast, specifically the New York City area, we have many people who are abrasive, abrupt and seemingly self-centered.  I think it is a weather thing.  Survival in a cold over-populated climate requires a person to be a bit self-centered.

For instance if you live in a large family in a cold climate, you need to elbow your way to the fireplace for warmth, and fight for seconds at dinner.  Gentle compassionate family members go cold and hungry.  Other people in this climate understand this and aggressive people are accepted, they are the survivors, gentle, compassionate people are perceived to be weak.

People from warm weather island climates seem to have a gentle compassionate personality, perhaps because instead of racing around and fighting to stay warm, they are used to slowing down and setting a steady pace in order to keep from overheating.  Their culture does not need to fight for food; if they are hungry they just pluck fruit from a tree, or pull in a fish from the sea.  (Yes, I know this is loaded with ridiculous generalizations, just go with it OK.)

In another lifetime when I was expected earn an income; my place of work was in New York City, the epicenter of aggressive, abrupt, self-centered people.  (In actuality, when push comes to shove these people are the salt of the earth and will in fact show compassion, but in ordinary day to day affairs are in general as I describe them.)  One of the managers at my office, Frank, was from a warm weather island climate.  Frank was extremely competent, but was also easy going, gentle and compassionate.  He did not seem to have an angry bone in his body.  He never had a bad word to say about anyone.

One day, as part of his supervisory position, he was required to reprimand one of the clerical staff that reported to him.  This person made a minor error which cost the company maybe $50.  The firm but fair Frank said calmly and in the manner of instruction,

“Mary, you have to be careful when you see this situation, you probably should have asked my advice before you matched this trade.  Fortunately this error only cost $50, but it could have been quite significant.”

Keep in mind, a New Yorker manager may have handled it like this,

“Yo Mary, what the fuck, are youse stupid or what? You screw up like this one more time and you’re going to be standing in the unemployment line…capeesh?

And that disciplinary rant would have been accepted without comment.

How did Mary react to Frank’s gentle instruction?

“OK, I get it, you don’t have to yell!”

Frank turned to me somewhat startled and asked,

“Joe, was I yelling?”

I mulled it over for a bit before I responded,

I gotta say, Frank, for you that was yelling!”


  1. I kind of agree with your generalisations, except... Greece is a warm weather climate (with islands) but Greeks really yell a lot, even just in normal conversation.

    1. They have to yell, otherwise they'd never get a word in, Greeks talk a LOT, almost non-stop.

  2. I've lived in Pittsburgh and Chicago followed by Florida, Spain and Florida again and I have to say that you're dead on. You should receive an honorary anthropology degree or something for this post!

  3. I was raised in a cold climate (Montana) but in a small town which also makes a difference. When I moved to Washington DC, I worked in a room with people from New York and Boston. Holy cow. They had me in tears the first day. Took me awhile to figure out they really weren't that rude or insensitive or mean - that was just the way they were. Really an experience for me. Also, working and living around African Americans for the first time was a learning time for me.

  4. Yep, I've known guys like that. I'm just happy I don't have to live in a big city. I'd hate it and then some. The people are rude in my opinion.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  5. ha ha. cute. laughed at your generalizations quip, too. :)

    i do admit, upon visiting nyc once, we learned to pick up the pace of life or die. :)

  6. Constructive criticism works almost always whereas yelling and threatening only works with those who are on the 3 strikes and you're out time in their career.

  7. I had the TexWis experience myself. The several times I was in NYC my daughter would take my elbow to speed me up. I thought I was moving smartly along, but she was smarter.

  8. Omg. You are so spot on with your description! My dad's family is from New York and Chicago and they're all exactly that way! But, as you pointed out, they are in fact, salt of the earth people and really would give you the shirts off their backs. Our family is a large, loud, abrasive - to the outsider looking in - bunch of Italians but we're also a loving and passionate group. However, our yelling is quite the opposite. Our yelling is a very calm, quiet voice.. That's how we knew we were in trouble! Lol..

  9. I think that even applies in the UK - the further south you get the warmer it tends to be and the slower and more thoughtful the people - by the time you get to Cornwall life slows almost to a standstill.

  10. I think Mary's reaction is the best.

  11. I think you're spot on. I have several friends from NYC and Boston, too, and they tell similar stories. They live here (Dallas) now and have mellowed considerably.

  12. I lived in Maryland (suburban Washington, DC) for almost 10 years. After getting off the dreaded beltway and stopping at my local grocery store after work, where we fought for a parking space, frowned at people we passed in the narrow isles, and endured the mean look of the register worker - I was pleasantly surprised to get back to central Virginia. I had forgotten that traffic could be manageable, grocery isles could be wide enough for two carts to pass, workers looked at you, and parking spaces were plentiful. Living in the jungle - oops, I mean big northern city - can bring out the worst in anyone. And that wasn't even that far north!

    Point well taken in your story.

  13. My parents were raised in the same city and my mother is loud and aggressive while my dad was calm and quiet. What you say does have some truth in it. I've noticed when in Italy that n the big cities people yell a lot but they're calmer in the countryside.

  14. This is quite interesting, especially since in Europe, the roles seem to be reversed. People from Mediterranean countries are generally thought to be loud, exuberant, boisterous, and noisy. The Swedes, Norwegians, and Finns are so quiet that they tend to go unnoticed.

    Someone should examine this phenomenon!

  15. hey hey hey, don't go lumping the rest of us nertherners with yore nasty-ass city folk!

    i've seen what you're talking about in the city, it's just a bit different upstate. then again, you might never know it because the folks they hire for retail/restaurants up here tend to be the grouchier and we get lumped with the grouchy cities.

  16. After reading this, I took it as another advantage of working from home where all the correspondence is done through email, so unless someone sent something with all caps, no yelling in any form would happen, which could be a good thing, I think,


  17. Poor Frank. Being from the South yet moving to the Northeast a decade ago, I still don't fit in here.

    Several years ago, I had a retired NYC'er who lived down the street explain to me why he hated it when people he did not know said hello to him. It was shocking for me.

  18. I don't yell. I barely speak.

  19. Since yesterday's comment didn't go through, I'm doing it again since I seem to be on a roll :)
    First, I love the twist on the ghetto/Italian in the NY manager.
    Secondly, I wouldn't have found Frank to be yelling. I'd consider it constructive criticism, which also pisses me off as a Jersey girl. So Frank can't win :)

  20. I am a "Team Leader" at my job and pretty laid back, most of the time. I will not however be walked if I say anything, I get that "You don't have to yell" or "You don't have to be a jerk" when I am trying to calmly explain the situation.
    However them screaming and waving their arms around and acting like they've lost their fucking minds is completely acceptable!
    I've been given the reason that, as their "leader" my words carry more "weight"...I think they're all just nuts! Lol.