I recently returned from a road trip to Florida. I have some friends and family there and wanted to spend some time with them. I enjoy the scenery and capturing it with my camera along the way. I have to say though that this was probably the last time my car will be transporting me on that far a trip. My body doesn't take to long road trips like it used to, and the flight takes about 3 hours compared to 22 hours or so by car.
I find it very interesting how many subcultures exist in this country. And taking a 1,300 mile car trip is one sure-fire way to witness a few of them. When you travel that far you have to stop fairly often, for gas, food and rest rooms if you like to drink coffee as much as I do, so you meet a lot of people. I tend to be a very observant person, so I notice details. I like to challenge myself to pick up on differences as well as consistencies along the way.
You don't have to go too far to experience a difference in speech. As close as Pennsylvania, a subtle accent can be heard, and also different words for familiar things like "soda" instead of our western New York "pop." Then further south like in Virginia the accent is obvious, and responses to questions and inquiries from travelers such as myself are most commonly completed with "ma'am." That's when I know I'm way out of my neighborhood!
When you get that far south and beyond, another very obvious difference surfaces - the pace. It does absolutely no good to try and rush in anything when in the southern part of the country. Toll booth operators, cashiers, food servers and other service-people are laid back, and they generally don't appreciate customers trying to "hurry them up." They can spot a "yankee" a mile away by our accent (although I've never thought of myself as having one), and of course our pace.
In order to have a pleasant trip, I had to adjust my perspective a little. It's easy to jump to conclusions that the people that serve us are being inconsiderate or rude, but that's not usually the case. It's quite the contrary. They are being friendly and courteous, and to them that means taking their time with each customer. When I stop to think about it, that's the way I say I want to be treated. I'm just usually in too much of a hurry to let them.