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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Southern hospitality

Whenever we travel to the southwest part of Virginia, we are always amazed at the friendliness and hospitality encountered from employees at almost all businesses.

This was even more evident on a recent trip to Charlottesville. Shopping at an antique store in Ruckersville we had a nice conversation with the cashier. As expected, he was polite and friendly. We learned that he knew a little about where we were from in Maryland and even had some connections to the area. Telling him about our weekend plans he graciously made some suggestions on what we should do and see on the way to Charlottesville. He told us about an alternative route that had more antique stores, vineyards, restaurants, and an overall nice road for scenery. He asked about our tastes and suggested the stores and restaurants we may enjoy visiting.

The suggestions did not disappoint. At each location we stopped we told them how our original “guide” told us about their business. They in turn suggested other businesses we would enjoy visiting. All of these were a few miles apart and it wasn’t apparent that they had any relation to each other-Just businesses helping each other.

It’s easy to forget about the golden rule sometimes, especially in the impersonal world of business. It was such a pleasure to be a stranger and greeted with such hospitality. But to see individual businesses, some that would be competitors, freely offering suggestions to travelers was a refreshing surprise. We never would have had this experience had we continued on the main highway, missing this little detour. Now it is go to route to Charlottesville.

The hospitality didn’t end en route but continued once we arrived in Charlottesville. We love the pedestrian mall on Main Street. Parking isn’t hard to find but can be tricky with restrictions and meters. Finding a pay lot with no meters and no one in the pay booth, it was difficult to discern the process from the posted signs, as they directed you to pay at the booth. Not wanting to get a hefty ticket or worse, towed, we must have looked a little bewildered. A gentleman leaving the lot noticed us, pulled up, and rolled down his window. He immediately recognized our problem and told us that after a certain hour the booth is closed and there was no reason to pay. But just in case, he gave us a business card and told us that we could use him as a reference since he worked in the adjacent building. We thanked him and he drove off.  We parked. Enjoyed Main Street. And returned to an unflagged car.

Southern hospitality exemplified.