A new year in a new place…nice!

Just as with anything, there are many sentiments about the capital city of Texas. I’ve read that it’s overrated and overpriced, that it’s full of hippies and music and doesn’t celebrate anything else, that it is full of educated people who care about the environment, that it has lots of jobs to offer and affordable places to live, and that the traffic is the worst in the nation behind LA.

I do have to say that the traffic arrests a lot of time from my day, and my grocery bill is at least a third more than it used to be, but I would hope that there is one important aspect of Austin that we can agree upon. People are nice. Not just nicer. Nice.

Moving our family to Austin from Pennsylvania was a decision based on many personal factors, and the transition has taken a lot of effort and adjustment, although I am decidedly delighted living here. I love the fact that we still have chilly days that call for a fire and hot cocoa, but most days I can go out for a run and enjoy the fit, healthy setting that helps me work off the fact that we have more delectable restaurants to choose from than there are days I feel like eating out.

IMG_0466What I really love, or I should say whom, are the people. True Austinites, I know, are less than thrilled that so many people have moved here, but I hope their warm, genuine hearts teach those of us who’ve moved here how to be nice to others. If you knew me, I doubt you’d say I’m not a nice person. But, I’ve started being kinder and more generous than I’d ever been while living in PA. Seriously. And, it’s because all of the people whom I’ve encountered since we’ve moved are nice. Really. All of them. From coworkers to teachers, from cashiers and servers to kids in the neighborhood and the guys who mow the lawns out here.

One of my very good friends from PA came out to visit before Christmas, and I was driving her back to our house from the airport. As I slowed down at stopped traffic, a car from an intersecting road travelled through two lanes into the line of cars ahead of us. My friend immediately asked what that driver thought he was doing. I’m not quite sure whether she called him “the driver” or something else that conveyed her feelings more accurately. I laughed as I explained–that’s just what everyone does here. Not only was it perfectly acceptable for that driver to make his way into the line, but we are happy to stop to let him in so that we can all be on our way. So, as I’m sure he waved his thanks to the drivers who let him in the line, I’m also sure that it felt good to do a good deed, so to speak, and do small things that help others. I’m telling you—that’s just what people do here. Just yesterday, a woman cut off my husband in a parking lot, and we could see her apologizing over and over again from the driver’s seat.

I keep using examples of driving, but it’s everyone. The neighbors offer help with household chores, people we meet at sports events become new friends, the teachers from the school email us during weekends and vacations (and I know how busy they are!). People are even nice to the environment—instead of cutting down trees at Christmas, they decorate them right there beside the road for everyone to enjoy!

XmasTreesAustin-2Everyone is friendly. Everyone wants to do something nice for someone else whether it takes an extra few minutes out of their day or whether it would be an inconvenience for their schedule. Everyone goes out of his or her way to be nice. It’s the right thing to do.

So, don’t move out here because it’s beautiful, there are jobs to be had, and there are cool places to be seen. If you want to be a nicer person than you are, stay where you live and start treating people the way we treat them here in Austin. Treat others the way you’d want to be treated. Maybe it’ll spread around the country; then people will stop moving here, and maybe the traffic will improve, too.