Selma is full of welcoming surprisesPublished 9:21pm Friday, May 30, 2014
By Scottie Brown
The Selma Times-Journal
Welcome to Selma. Those are the words I have heard the most since coming to this town.
I was a little cautious about moving form Auburn to a place I knew nothing about, because Auburn had become my home. For four years, I was able to become so familiar with a town, and honestly I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to feel as comfortable here as I was there.
But Selma has surprised me. I’m constantly greeted wherever I go. People are holding doors open. They say please and, even, thank you.
It wasn’t that I didn’t expect Selma to be hospitable, because I did. Anywhere in the South tends to have some variation of these qualities. But when in small towns it isn’t unusual for a newcomer to get strange looks. Someone new coming into such a small city breaks the status quo. It’s not the norm for that ecosystem.
I can’t say I haven’t gotten questioning looks from people when I go somewhere for the first time. A lot of that, however, could be because I’m usually carrying a notepad and a recorder, but almost as soon as I’m noticed anywhere, someone will walk up to me and introduce themselves. And just as quickly as I was noticed, we’ll be properly introduced and the conversation will end with different variations of “Well, welcome to Selma.”
Just the other afternoon, around lunchtime, I walked into the Coffee Shoppe downtown to get a cup of iced coffee and a sandwich. I fully expected to walk into the store and not disrupt anyone, but that afternoon, I was thrown off when I walked in and conversations stopped for a brief moment as the door shut behind me.
Necks were crooked and heads were raised from their food and books in order to see who had come through the door. All of these people seemed to know each other, or at least know of each other and were waiting to greet someone else they knew. However, none of these knew me. It was very apparent I was breaking some sort of norm within the little coffee place. But I ordered my food and went on my way.
What’s more odd about going into a small town and popping its status quo bubble, is the fact that eventually the newcomer isn’t so new and they too become a regular.
I had these same things happen to me just a short four years ago walking around Auburn’s campus as a freshman. I think those looks were tradition when it came to walking in a classroom for the first time. But after some time, the looks either stopped or I quit noticing them.
In a small town, there has to be a status quo. Everybody seems to know everybody, and that can either be good or bad. It just really depends on the situation.