First, I had to look up 'neighborly' to see if it was really in the dictionary. I know folks in the south use the word without hesitation, but we also use words like "fixin' to" (get ready to) and "all y'all" (everybody) and "over yonder" (over there-must be accompanied by a finger pointing in the direction of "yonder").
Neighborly is, in fact, in the Webster Dictionary. " adj: of, relating to, or characteristic of congenial neighbors; especially: friendly <>. " Geez, no wonder they say the English language is so hard to learn. That definition looks like legal paperwork.
Why am I carrying on about being neighborly? My story doesn't really have to do with actual neighbors, but with a complete stranger. Neighborly was the word that came to mind. I was at a stop light in my small town (outside Austin) yesterday. A hippy-lookin' dude pulled up next to me and displayed the universal symbol of "roll your window down, I have a something to say to you"--His arm waving in a circle in the air. Did I hestitate? No. I rolled down my window. It never occurred to me that I was in danger. I figured he just needed directions, as his plates were from Arkansas. Here's how our exchange went:
Him: "Hey, didn't there used to be a funeral home and a gas station on this corner?"
Me: "Yes, they both closed up and sold out to Walgreens. Hopefully they made a boatload of money."
Him: (signed the cross)"Oh, heavens, the big names are coming, huh?" "I used to be from these parts (from around here) and I loved this little town." "I moved to Hot Springs to get away from all the sprawl and make my business a little better." "I make tie dye silk shirts. The hot springs up in Arkansas are better for the dye and their healing qualities make me feel better."
Me: "Why are you back down here?"
Him: " I just came from Kerrville. I signed up for their music and art festival in May." "Bring your family and come see me next Spring."
Me: "Well, the light changed. You take care and drive safe."
Him: "You too. Adios."
I felt neighborly. I didn't really help him out in any way, but did provide a bit of relief that he wasn't out of his mind--there had been buildings on that corner. My question---would you roll down your window in your town? Am I just naive? Is it a small town thing? A southern thing? Would I have rolled it down at some intersection in Austin? Well, if you knew me, you'd know I would, but I'm crazy that way. I talk to strangers, despite my mother's warning not to.
I may be way off base, but I believe in the general good of humankind. Just being neighborly is a good place to start.