December 8, 2010

Manners In An Australian Country Town

One of my favourite blogs is called Privilege.  It is written by a lovely and thoughtful woman named Lisa. I find it both an entertaining and intelligent read.  In November she wrote a post about manners.  It made me think about our life here in a small rural community and I realised that most people are well mannered.

I have mused over why this is so.  I think it is partly due to the fact that we live in a relatively conservative part of Western Australia.  Most people have been brought up with an emphasis on the old fashioned ideal of manners.   It extends beyond the common day to day courtesies of pleases and thank yous.  People help each other. It would be rare to have someone not hold a door for you or not help you if you are carrying something heavy.

Greeting people is another very strong custom.  As you walk down our main street it is usual to smile, nod and say hello.  If you know the other person's name, you use it.  The Farmchildren have become very adept at this, readily saying hello to all passers by.  This has hilarious results when I take them to The City.  They busily smile and say hello.  Some people respond, some don't.  It reminds me of the scene in the Crocodile Dundee movie where Paul Hogan is wandering through Manhattan "g'daying" everyone.

Driving is similar.  We all have local number plates.  It is usual, and expected, if you pass someone with a similar plate to wave. The style of wave always makes me smile.   So that both hands are kept on the wheel, the wave is often reduced to just lifting a finger from the steering wheel.

See below.

Demonstration of Country Wave Whilst Driving
If you want, you can get a little more excited.

Enthusiastic Country Wave 


While it may not look like much effort has been made, it would be noticed if this wave didn't occur!

Likewise you would always stop to offer assistance to anyone on the side of the road.  A pregnant friend of mine tried to get in the habit of going for a daily walk along a road near their farm.  She gave up in the end because so many people stopped to ask if she needed a lift.

People tend to live in our district for a long period of time.  I wonder if people being generally well- mannered is a result of this.  If you offend someone, you will still see them several times a week for many years to come.  Perhaps living together in small community requires more thought and care than living a more anonymous life in a bigger town or city.  Likewise I do think that sometimes when expectations are high, people will try and live up to them.

As always there are exceptions and some people will always be bad mannered.  I think that is just human nature.  Overall though, I enjoy the feeling of community and level of courtesy that occurs on a day to day basis.

On that note, thank you for reading and I hope you all have a lovely day...

21 comments:

Fussy Eater's Mum said...

You are so right that the absence of the driving wave will be noticed. Often while driving with my Farmer I am so busy chatting that I forget to wave and he immediately cautions me not to forget.

Sydney Shop Girl said...

I loved this post, AFW!

I had a smile on my face reading about your friend who kept getting offered a lift.

SSG xxx

Sydney Shop Girl said...

PS - that is a GORGEOUS bracelet!!

SSG xxx

A Farmer's Wife said...

Fussy Eater's Mum - Forget at your peril...!

SSG - Thank you. The bracelet is from Kailis and was a present from The Farmer and The Farmchildren last Christmas. You could always get Mr SSG to take a trip to Kailis when you are home for Chrissie...

kate of here we are together said...

Ooh, I am very lucky, I live in a nice place,too, when my baby was asleep while we were out walking, some builders actually turned off all their machines and stopped their work till we had passed, just so they would not wake him.
I do think it's a result of living in small villages where everyone knows someone who knows you, if that makes sense? :)
I love the story about your friend who kept being offered a lift, so sweet!
& your bracelet, lovely!
<3

Virginia said...

This was hilarious - had to laugh out loud at your wave demos!

I've done the opposite to you - I grew up on dairy farms (ie milking lots of cows and feeding lots of calves) in Tassie's north and north west, now living in a town 10 minutes out of the capital city.

The 'wave' is well known here in rural Tassie, too. It doesn't matter if other drivers are known to you or not. You simply wave with pointer finger sticking up just for sharing the road! Dad never fails to do it.

This Mid 30s Life said...

That took me back!! Where I grew up you raised a finger from the steering wheel to anyone who drove past you. If they didn't wave back they weren't local. Then there was the odd rogue waver - the ones who would actually lift their entire hand off the wheel and wave it around. Oh those crazy people.

A Farmer's Wife said...

Kate - The story about the builders turning off their equipment so as not to wake your baby is gorgeous... Thank you again for taking the time to comment.

Virginia - I think the 'wave' is a well known country phenomena. I like it a lot - both the giving and receiving of.

A Farmer's Wife said...

This Mid 30s Life - It is considered super enthusiastic to actually let go of the wheel.
Take care.

Maryam said...

I've loved reading about your town and it's kindnesses. I grew up in Philadelphia and now live in its suburbs. When people are out of the way kind, I'm so surprised and think we should all go out of our way a bit to be friendly. It can be hard to do when it's not reciprocated. Nothing like feeling foolish for being cheerful! :)

A Farmer's Wife said...

Maryam - Thank you for commenting and I am glad you enjoyed the post. I say go forth and be cheerful!

Not A Ballerina said...

Adore the wave pictures! But I have a question, do I get the impression from the very first comment that the passengers are also required to wave? If so, how do you do that wave without a steering wheel prop? See, this huge gaping hole of knowledge is the reason I could never live in the country!

A Farmer's Wife said...

Not A Ballerina - Passengers should wave, not a complete faux pas if they don't as long as the driver has. Basically someone in the car needs to wave! Steering wheel accessory optional...

LPC said...

Thank you very much. This is a lovely build on what I wrote initially. I can only imagine the happy part of living in a small town, and that your children get to see these human systems working so well.

A Farmer's Wife said...

Thanks Lisa - I am glad you liked it.

Sara interrupted said...

I love getting the wave, love it even more when I get it from farmers on tractors, when they are taking a mob of sheep across the road or when they at the feed store across the road from work - actually thats more like a wave and a yarn. Helps that I drive around the countryside in a car covered in Young Farmer logos!

A Farmer's Wife said...

Sara Interrupted - Thank you. It sounds like you definitely understand the wave situation!

feli said...

I love this post and I love country WA. Every easter I go down to my friend's farm down south and they are the kindest well mannered family I have ever met.

I usually help them around their cattle farm when I am down there and one day I went with them on their rounds and passed by a few locals with their cars and they did the one finger wave too! I asked my friend why he gave the finger to the passer by and he said that it's how they say hello and I was intrigued!

I am glad you shared this post and your farm reminds me of my friend's farm that I love so much. Makes me want to leave the city to live in a farm. :*D

A Farmer's Wife said...

Thank you Feli. I am glad you have had such a positive experience in the country. Sometimes I think people don't know what to expect... Thanks also for commenting.

The Book Chook said...

I'm a country girl too - any time I go to Sydney, I find myself smiling and nodding at people on streets who either stare or avoid my gaze. Yet at home, strangers and friends alike say g'day when we're out walking. Give me the country any day!

A Farmer's Wife said...

Hello Book Chook (love that name by the way) You obviously love the country too. Thanks for visiting my blog.