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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 9, 2010 / 29 Menachem-Av, 5770

Friends and Acquaintances

By Alan Douglas




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | With the accelerating convergence of media, technology and transportation our culture is changing. How we treat each other isn't the same. Allow me to demonstrate this concept with the story of the Chicken Biscuit.

Miami, Florida, is a mixture of cultures including bits of New York, Caribbean, South American, African American, Jewish, and Catholic. Without historic culture and with constant migration in and out, it is a transitory community. Even people who have lived in South Florida for decades will continue to root for their home team, especially the New York teams. Living and working in this multi-racial, multi-cultural environment, requires navigating between conflicting cultures.

When I moved from Miami to Oak Ridge, North Carolina, it was like moving to another country. It was a rural, agricultural and textile mill economy with a lot of people who spent their leisure time visit'n relatives or watching basketball. One morning, shortly after moving there, I brought my car in to be repaired at the local gas station. I was wary of the locals. My car clearly needed to be fixed so I had to find a new mechanic, and that is about the same as finding a new doctor. No matter how much research you do, it comes down to trusting your cardiologist or auto mechanic. After my new mechanic checked out my car a bit, he came over to me and explained in a thick country accent what was wrong. Automotive jargon is difficult enough without a thick southern accent. Somehow I understood that he was telling me how long it would take to fix it, and how much it would cost. In Miami, any self-respecting mechanic would then proceed to explain why he couldn't fix it today and wait for me to beg or bribe him. But this North Carolina mechanic totally confused me as he followed it up with, "I'll get right on it, if you like."

So I sat in the small, cluttered area of the gas station with a variety of radiator hoses and fan belts, waiting for my car to be ready. About a half-hour later the mechanic returned and approached me with a cup of coffee and a small stained brown paper bag in his hands. "Want a biscuit?" he asked. Not having had breakfast, anything sounded good, so I jumped at the opportunity replying, "That would be great, thanks." He reached in and handed me a piece of wax paper containing a biscuit split with a chicken patty inside it. It was very greasy and very good. An hour later my car came down off the rack and we were at the cash register. As he punched in the numbers I reminded him, "Don't forget the biscuit." He stopped and stared at me. With a look of disgust and wonder he said, "Around here we don't charge for everything." "Don't worry about it" he scoffed as he slammed the register drawer closed. Somehow, my effort to be honest and pay for the biscuit had been taken as an insult. My honesty in reminding him of my purchase was rewarded with ridicule.

For centuries, sharing food and gifts of food have had symbolism to various cultures. The Greek philosopher Plutarch explained that, "We do not sit at the table to eat, but to eat together." Having lived in Miami and Washington, DC, multi-cultural "international" cities, one develops a false sense of adaptability. I thought I was sophisticated enough to conduct myself appropriately when dealing with a variety of ethnic cultures. But it turned out that, to use the local language… I didn't know squat about chicken biscuit etiquette.

In smaller communities where generations of families and neighbors reside, the rules are different. Sooner or later all of your sins, character flaws, and all of your personal and professional business, becomes common knowledge in the community. Your neighbors know all about you and your family. Since lives intersect constantly, members of small towns don't need the internet's social networking to keep up to date in "real time." If you cheat a local merchant, don't expect to get your toilet fixed if his brother is your landlord. When you help out the neighbor four houses away, don't be surprised if their in-laws include the doctor who agrees to fit you into an already overcrowded schedule. Desired or unwanted, relationships exist that tie the community together. In the big city you may buy a television from a clerk at a chain and that will be the only time your life and the clerk's life intersect. The clerk acts differently and so do you. It is a transaction about the television, the price, the warranty, the terms of the transaction. Even as chains and big box retailers devour rural areas, the employees are aware that their customers are also their neighbors. In big cities it is often the same for personal matters. Hooking up and one night stands are crimes of opportunity. In smaller communities opportunities to transgress are fewer, the chances of being caught are greater, and the penalties impact you and your family.

As we witness the accelerating convergence of media, technology and transportation we all start to live in big cities. We can travel to Thailand or go on the internet to sin. That change is why we are treating, and being treated, in a fashion previously unknown. Increasingly we have the possibility to form new friendships and acquaintances with others throughout the world. The difference is that acquaintances are those we will have a limited number of transactions with. But our involvement in their lives and their impact upon us is limited. We treat them with respect, we are honest with them, but our expectations stem from the transactions or the situations. Friends are allowed inside our personal area and are trusted. In return we expect some form of reciprocity from them. We seek mutual, continuing bonds with our friends. Friendships don't require scorekeeping, but they do need maintenance. Author Virginia Wolf lamented that; "I have lost friends, some by death …others through sheer inability to cross the street".

Increased communications and travel widen our circle of acquaintances. In smaller communities, be they towns or book clubs, we form relationships. Friendships are the sum a relationship, not individual incidents. Friends can do us wrong, but the friendship is more important. The friendship is more valuable than the hurt. We inherit some relationships, while others may start with a chicken biscuit. Increased communications and travel now force us all to categorize more, and to decide more quickly - which individuals are acquaintances and which ones are truly a part of our lives, our friends.

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JWR contributor Alan Douglas, an author, media executive, speaker, and attorney, lives con brio- except when he is grumpy.


Previously:

Revenge and Vindication

© 2010 Alan Douglas

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