Making the rounds in the local news today is a recent story run in Travel + Leisure ranking America’s rudest cities. It turns out that the Southeast’s largest city is losing some of its trademark genteel. Atlanta ranked #11 in the poll, just shy of the top ten.
At the top of the list? Los Angeles (#1), New York City (#2) and Philadelphia (#3.) Good to know my hometown (NYC) is finally catching a break. When you have a gazillion people crowding every square inch of the city, you can’t blame people for being a bit surly. Actually, it’s less about being surly than it is simply trying not lose your mind when someone’s stinky armpit is jammed in your face on the train. I don’t know how seriously to take this poll, though. Chicago was ranked #15, when it shouldn’t even be on the top 20 list. I used to travel regularly to the Windy City, and the people were among the nicest I’ve ever met.
A #11 ranking notwithstanding, Travel + Leisure wasted no time skewering Atlanta on what we lack:
What happened to that southern charm? This corporate center ranks well for its business hotels (No. 8), but lousy when it comes to romance (No. 29), being kid-friendly (No. 27), or even feeling safe (No. 29). Comfort yourself with a few plush souvenirs instead: the city ranks No. 13 for luxury stores and No. 15 for its home décor shops.
I will say that in the 15 years I’ve lived here (which makes me some kind of honorary native, because only 1 in 10 people that live in Atlanta are actually from here) I’m observed less of the genteel behavior this city has long been known for. After moving here in 1995, I remember initially being weirded out by men gallantly holding doors for me, and people saying hi or – gasp – making eye contact in elevators. I had the hardest time adjusting to people chatting with me on MARTA when I was trying to read. In NYC, everyone knows that if you’re shoving your face in a book or newspaper, it means you’re escaping contact with the human condition.
Anyway, I don’t know if I can blame the change on Atlanta’s population growth (larger cities seem to be lower on the nice scale), an influx of us Northerners imposing our rude-ass selves on this fair city, or just that people are busier and more distracted by their electronic devices. Maybe it’s just become easier to say hi to someone on Twitter than to their face. Oddly enough, the longer I live here, the more chatty I am with perfect strangers. I think I even made some eye contact on MARTA last night coming back from the hockey game. Y’all got a problem with that?
(Photo of Piedmont Park copyright Dana Lisa Young)