Growing up in Iowa, cities always seemed to be a scary place to live. We heard of gang violence, poverty, and muggings from places like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. We heard of the New York attitude, the rudeness and selfishness that infected many of the people not involved with the crime that the city experienced. It seemed, overall, to be a very dangerous and unpleasant place to live. It seemed to starkly contrast the friendly, helpful community that the Midwest was painted to be.
This could not be further from the truth in my experience in Denver. At my internship, everyone is interested in talking with me and offering me guidance for my career- often stopping by my desk of their own volition. Shopping in a crowded grocery store is littered with “pardon me” and “please excuse me.” Drivers here far excel the Midwest with “curtesy waves,” which may be the single strongest force keeping our society together. Even the homeless genuinely wish me well after I decline to offer them any money.
My second week here I went snowboarding in the late afternoon and evening after class was done for the day. As I was gathering my things to head to the lift, two young men were coming off the slopes, laughing and chatting. As they reached the parking lot they parted ways saying “nice to meet you” to each other. It was crazy to me that two people who had just met could seem so chummy. As I was closing my trunk, one of the guys offered me a granola bar, which he said was an extra he packed, and wished me warmth for my night skiing.
I think this has redefined how I view the city, and the world as a whole. While I first thought that the city granted anonymity that led to the crime and horridness that I described, I found that not everyone feels that way. Some people, like the snowboarder I met, seem to see it as an opportunity to spread loveliness and cheer at far more efficient rate than could be accomplished in rural areas. Brushing shoulders with more people means having more people whose days one can make better. It seems that if more people adopted this philosophy, and shared it as far as they could, the world could be just that much happier for all of us.