Some members of my family have occasionally used what I call an “unwelcome mat” to discourage door-to-door salesmen, Jehovah’s witnesses, and people looking for donations. An unwelcome mat is a slightly more humorous version of a no soliticing sign, and probably one that people pay attention to just as often. Being a person who has been a stranger in many areas, I tend to be rather sensitive to how welcoming other people are. I also do my best to be warm and welcoming to other people (which is generally not a difficult task. While I often find people welcoming, and enjoy it when I do, sometimes I find a place particularly unwelcoming, and such was the case today.
Today my business took me to the town of Molalla. What I found was that the town distinctly gave off an unwelcoming air, and that is before I knew that one of its civic leaders had just been convicted and sentenced for embezzlement . There are many overt and subtle ways that a town can show itself as unwelcoming, and Molalla definitely met that bill, whether it came from the endless barriers that could be found preventing access from one road to another because people did not like their private property being used for through routes, the large amounts of police officers that just sat around town ominously, or the “Don’t Tread On Me” and confederate flags that were prominently flown by residents. Molalla happened to remind me of where I grew up, and those are not particularly good memories, since I felt particularly unwelcome where I grew up in rural Central Florida.
Even in small and subtle details, Molalla just felt unwelcome. These subtle details included the fact that some of the people on the road honk at drivers for going the speed limit (which is very rude) and the presence of grafitti that says “This isn’t a @#!%* freeway.” There was at least one friendly place in Molalla, though, and that was a local burger joint that I was interested in because of my own love of local diners, especially as they offer a place where locals feel at home, which makes strangers feel a bit less alien, I suppose. When people are so inwardly focused that they think they have everything they need and have no need or interest in outsiders, their lack of a welcoming attitude will be reflected in their indifference and hostility to others as well as in obvious aspects of their self-absorption. On the contrast, those who are focused on and interested in what is outside of them will also be very obvious in their behavior. I do not know if the good people of Molalla (I only happen to know a couple of them to my knowledge) desire to be seen as friendly and warm to others, but at any rate, my first visits to this town did not leave a good impression. Hopefully there will be time to make a much better second impression, if such time is available.