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Marty on STT
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January 9, 2009 9:40 pm  

Haha! Yep, I've heard similar admonishings when I was still a noobie: Them: "Did you sleep wit me las' nite?!?" Me: "Uh.....no, I don't think so." Them: "Den you mus' say 'Good Mahnin'!! Wassa matta wit you??" LOL! I learned quickly! Haha!


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A Davis
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January 10, 2009 2:12 am  

DukesFin

I was totally cracking up with the "good cop/bad cop" schtick going on with the two taxi drivers. How hysterical is that? One man convinced that it's his newly-sworn duty to rub your nose in your wee, and the other thinking that perhaps you have been punished enough. I'll be chuckling about that one for days. But you held your own, and I think that is why the second driver looked out for you.

Good on you!


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Gerie
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January 10, 2009 3:01 am  

We had a similar situation to the one Dukesfin experienced, but minus a helpful sidekick. Ours was on the way to the marina at Sapphire, at the guard gate. John said, very politely, something like, "Hi! We're going to the marina." In NY terms, this is friendly and polite. He is, in fact, one of the most pleasant, respectful, well-mannered men I know. Well......as soon as he finished saying that the look on his face showed he was aware of his error. He knew better. He'd used proper greetings hundred of times before. The woman bellowed out, "GOOD MORNING! Don't you say 'Good morning?'" and proceded in the most gruff manner to tell us where to go and how to get there, sounding most threatening if he didn't turn in just the right place and park in exactly the correct location. The wiseass teens in the back seat rode him all the way to the parking spot about making a wrong turn and the gate nazi running after him to whoop his butt. I think John was actually a little scared. The kids still love to tell that story. 😀

Truthfully, I love the "good morning/afternoon/evening" greeting and have adopted it in all my encounters here at home. Most people don't find it strange, just pleasant. It certainly makes me carry myself in a very positive manner. It's one of the better island idiosyncrasies, in my opinion.


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Trade
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January 10, 2009 8:55 am  

I wish they'd stop calling me "Mommee" though. :-X

What I used to hear from down-islanders was being called "Mistress." Haven't heard that one in a long time.


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A Davis
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January 10, 2009 11:18 am  

Well, I think that if you truly have manners, that you will not go out of your way to point out the deficiencies of others by such brutal means. I object to being chastised for an ignorant mistake. There are plenty of gentle ways to instruct someone about your customs to help them ease the way for themselves down the line.

Is this the way to Market Square?

"Excuse, would you repeat that?"

*person repeats query*

Thank you. It's just that here in the islands, we are accustomed to someone saying "Good Morning, Good Afternoon, or Good Night" to open the conversation, and I missed the first part of what you said. *give assistance requested as though not insulted*

The person may, in curiosity, ask for more information on this island custom, or may be annoyed about being so instructed, but the person will not likely refer to you as "Gate Nazi" in the future.

Believe me, I would have learned either way, but lordy...


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sherri
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January 10, 2009 11:25 am  

Trade,
They call you "Mommee"? Years ago, when I worked in town, the girls that were "bon here" always called the female boss "mommee".
The same did not hold true for the male version tho.

The cultural "PSSSSST" used to get me many years ago when I moved here! It drove me crazy and I thought it SO rude! I used to work on the Jim Dandy ice cream truck in Emancipation Garden and had a gentleman Pssst at me. I politely told him that I thought that behavior to be very rude and he was kind enough to explain to me that it was cultural and not meant to be rude..... he was simply trying to get my attention! I thought yadda, yadda, yadda and let it go. That same very day, I went grocery shopping. There was an old West Indian lady a bit ahead of me and she had dropped her newspaper. I picked it up as she had continued to walk away and I proceeded to try to get her attention by saying, MISS!, HEllO!, Hey, YOU!, YOOHOO! , ANYTHING I COULD THINK OF to no availe! Finally, FINALLY! I decided to "PSSSSST"! She turned around immediately! lol! I learned my lesson at that very moment! It is a part of the culture here and not considered rude! I cannot tell you how many times I have told this story to try and explain to visitors. 😀


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Juanita
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January 10, 2009 11:30 am  

Why do some feel it is necessary for every visitor who gets off a ship or an airplane to already know the local customs? If a guest to our islands has a big friendly smile and says a pleasant "Hello", then the person with the burning need to abusively admonish him is the one being rude. I can't quote the definition of rude, but common sense dictates that it be by intent. Dukesfins did not intend to offend or be "rude", ergo, he was not rude. The taxi driver #1 meant to be abusive. How they are treated (often by taxi drivers) is probably the biggest complaint visitors have about our islands. Do we want tourists? If we do, then everyone should be cordial and gracious to our visitors, and if they make a little faux pas, and you want to educate them, it can be done diplomatically and turn into learning experience for the guest and pleasant exchange all around.

Now, if you decide to live here, that's a different story. Get with the program!


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East Ender
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January 10, 2009 1:43 pm  

Juanita: I agree with you. I feel that many of the front-line tourism ambassadors (for example, the taxi drivers) have a completely different cultural/ideological base. Instead of being concerned for the other person's feelings, they are concerned for themselves. (I do not mean ALL taxi drivers by any means, but definitely a large number.) I don't know where this comes from, but it is a fact of life. When customer service training is provided, many people stare blankly at the trainer as if to say: "What would I want to do that for?" We tend to judge behavior from our own cultural perspective.

Anita: One has to be taught manners. Children do not develop them out of the blue.:-)


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Sabrina
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January 10, 2009 4:08 pm  

I agree about the Taxi drivers. I constantly heard complaints about them from tourists. One night a female tourist, almost in tears, was explaining to me how on the ride over she had been terrified. The driver was going fast on those winding country roads in STX, so she was scared and asked him to slow down - he went faster! Apparently he was rude too, which I can believe, because I saw him when he was lurking, waiting to take her back to her hotel. They are also a menace on the roads. I can't count how many times I have almost been run off the road by a Taxi driver, who seems to think it is his God-given right to drive in the middle of the road (and it is up to everyone else to get out of his way - another example of rudeness)

If somebody offers a friendly greeting, whatever it is, it should suffice. We don't all have the same culture, or speak the same language, but everyone should be able to recognize intent. My problem is with people who just bark commands/questions at you, you follow their command or answer their question, and they walk away without so much as a "thank you".


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Trade
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January 10, 2009 4:52 pm  

Don't get me started on some of the taxi drivers. One pulled a gun on someone I know who wouldn't let him in at that mess by Long Bay Road at the intersection being worked on. He had a load of tourists in back & was trying to horn in there. The guy let him in & called the cops with the plate number but I don't think anything was done. Of course, I'm sure they pay taxes on every nickel they make (cough* cough*) just like we do so the rest of us should never complain...


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Edward
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January 11, 2009 5:04 am  

Good morning!

What a wonderful story! This is a great example of how valuable this Forum is! I'll be in the VI in 3 weeks and have made a note to greet everyone properly.

Here in the former Soviet Union, where I have been living for the past six years, the norm is exactly the opposite. No one in the shops greets the customers, thanks them, or says "Goodbye." I have made it my mission to do just that. I greet the shop person when I enter, say "Thank you" when I receive my change, and say "Goodbye" when I leave (all in the local language).

Do you know what the effect has been? They are starting to smile and greet me, to thank me, and say goodbye. Is courtesy contagious?! 🙂


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DUN
 DUN
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January 11, 2009 1:27 pm  

I think Juanita said it that, these local manors/customs could be diplomatically explained.
There is no reason to be discourteous,uncivi & rude about itI agree!

It has always been my stance on this that the person who is rudely appearing to teach polite manors, is the ultimate hypocrite!
In my many years here, I`ve noticed while almost all locals start/end with these polite formalities, they almost never say Thank you when a more than average gesture or act of kindness is made above the norm to them.
So, I ALWAYS say Your welcome (in the absence of Thank you).

Then, I look for the what?, I`m sorry/waiting? stare I`m sure our guests here feel in the absence of good morning/afternoon/evening greeting to a local here.
I explain that while I can understand the Virtues of being polite, and even agree that it is a pleasant way to be approached in such a manor,as you suggest by saying good morning/afternoon/nite... why be 1/2 assed about it!!!

If your going to preach everyone around here to say GOOD MORNING, I`m going to teach you to say/use THANK YOU!
Ironic, that amongst the rudest folks here, such as taxi drivers who clog our streets, don`t pull over so the other 50 cars behind can continue, cut in at the last minute in front of everyone who has been patiently waiting(I can go on & on on what these drivers do).
I explain that where I came from, if you were to be so boldly INCONSIDERATE to so many, you would have more than a argument or poor manors on you hands to deal with!

By the way, where I came from it is considered impolite to treat someone formally when you have previously built a good rapport with that person & now feel comfortable approaching them.

Yes, Trade, I feel your anger, I hate (most) taxi drivers, & I feel for all the taxes they pay, they own thew roads.
Isn`t that why they act like they do?


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Trade
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January 11, 2009 2:09 pm  

Except they're exempt from paying road taxes & get a discount on gas.


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DUN
 DUN
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January 11, 2009 3:04 pm  

Except they're exempt from paying road taxes & get a discount on gas.

They don`t get a discount on gas anymore(right?).
I know I posted this some time ago, but I may be the reason., this is also one of my favorite VI stories I`ve been involved in!

I was at a Dominos gas station by the airport some years ago(that displayed the 2 gas prices cheap for the taxis, more expencive for the rest of us).
There was a church of jesus/God van waiting to get gas, so since there were not any cabs in the cheap, taxi only pumps, I asked why the van why it didn`t go there...
The church van driver stated"that line is for taxis only, I can`t go there"
I thought of that & said "Now we know whom is holier than thou in St. Thomas"! to the driver.
The Dominos gas station owner who was present over heard the conversation & said, "I never thought of it that way, we got to stop giving dem taxis a break"
I said yes, what do they contribute?, nothing!
Well, a couple weeks latter the taxi gas price signs were no longer being used!
And they havent been since!
I`d like to think I had something to do with that.
So, whenever a rude, inconsiderate taxi cuts me off(or any other of the many, too long to list) , I smile at how much $$ it costs them extra over the years to pay our price!
Speaking of which, the taxis were granted a fare increase when gas topped $4 a gallon, now that it`s $2.65(+/- .001 as the gas stations ARE all colluding), what about a decrease?
It`s not like the taxis help the local economy by sending their tax free cash to offshore accounts down island!


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Sabrina
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January 11, 2009 4:28 pm  

What amazes/disgusts me about Taxi drivers, is that almost their entire income comes from Tourists, yet they seem to hate them with a passion. I've watched Tourists pay and tip a driver, and not get so much as a "thank you".


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Trade
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January 11, 2009 5:30 pm  

I wasn't aware that the discounts stopped. If so, it's about time. Now they ought to pay road tax on their vehicles. It's a shame that some of them are the first & last contact any visitors see, not to mention that they won't take me to my house from the airport without a huge hassle. They only want to go to the hotels.


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Juanita
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January 12, 2009 5:42 pm  

I just did my own little unofficial survey. I went to Plaza Extra, and then I walked around C'sted for about an hour, and I made a point of making eye contact with most everyone, if possible, with a pleasant smile (not a big grin), and in most cases a slight nod of the head. NOT ONE person, spoke to me first! And when I said "Good afternoon", a few responded in kind, but most simply said "hi", or simply nodded. A few old timers said "OK'. I ran into a cross section of people, young, old, tourist, transplant and plenty of people I am assuming were locals because they were black and dressed for business, not as tourists, or they were grocery shopping in Plaza.

Earlier in the day, we had an early lunch at our new favorite health food restaurant. As we approached the counter, we both said good morning. The young lady did not respond. So...I called her on it. I said something like "We don't feel very welcome." to which she just looked at us. I said, "We said good morning." to which she said "I said good morning", but she didn't. I may be old, but not deaf, and we were not 2 feet apart. So, if she did say it, it was under her breath.

Leads me to believe the traditional greeting is not necessarily as big a deal as people like to tout it to be!


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A Davis
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January 16, 2009 11:47 am  

I just heard in person from a government official, that the driver was arrested and is no longer in possession of the firearm, AND that there is a case pending. VIPD did take care of things in conjunction with the VI Taxicab Commission.

There are people in our government who really do their jobs well, they are unsung heroes and she-roes.


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Juanita
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January 16, 2009 12:16 pm  

sheroes?:D Did you coin that word, Anita? I love it.


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Marty on STT
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January 16, 2009 12:44 pm  

Since the guy that does my taxes does a lot of taxes for the taxi drivers, he has let me in on a little secret...not ONE of them makes over $14,000 per year, according to the tax documents he files for them...with all of the tax breaks they get on things like clothes, maintenance and repair, gas (which is no longer advertised, but still exists, according to another taxi driver that I spoke to), plus the fact that they get paid in cash and report their daily income on the 'honor system'...my tax guy says they deduct just about anything you can think of...if the kid needs a new pair of sneakers, how does the IRB know that the receipt wasn't for shoes for the driver to use as part of his 'uniform'? So, they have receipts from every piece of clothing their entire family has purchased throughout the year...every bit of gasoline and maintenance and repair that goes into their personal vehicles, as well as their taxis, every CD (cuz ya gotta entertain the fares in your cab!), every battery (gotta have a flashlight to help fares in and out at night)...everyTHING you can imagine! Which is why their Adjusted net income is only $14,000...and that is also the minimum allowed by the IRB for them...go figure!! Even though over a hundred grand may go thru their hands, they pay taxes on fourteen grand....I think that's fair, don't you?


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Trade
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January 16, 2009 4:39 pm  

He should have his medallion pulled.


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A Davis
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January 16, 2009 5:17 pm  

sheroes?:D Did you coin that word, Anita? I love it.

No, I cannot remember where I got that one, but someone else definitely said it before me!


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KLJ555
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January 17, 2009 7:24 pm  

Before the election, my husband & I went in to register to vote. When we walked in, the government officials were either on the phone or with other customers. Rather than interrupting, we sat down to wait our turn. No one approached us, even after the customers left and the other folks were off the phone. Not wishing to be rude and thinking we should sit until called on, approximately 20 minutes passed. Two young women came in, walked up to the ladies at the desk and started the registration process. I jumped up, walked over to the desk as well and said we'd also like to register to vote. The government official looked me up and down and gave me a very pointed "Good afternoon." Oops....I realized my mistake. After that, however, they were very friendly and accommodating and we accomplished our task.

I had a completely different experience when I moved to NYC. I was with my boyfriend (now my husband) and I would greet folks on the street, as I had always done in the small town where I grew up. Well, as you can imagine, my greetings were not well received, except by a homeless gentleman. I had said hello and all of a sudden he was holding my arm and standing way closer to me than my husband would. My husband turns to me and said "what did you do!" I explained I just said "hi." I then got the "don't make eye contact in the city with strangers" lecture.

It's taken me a bit to unlearn that behavior and be friendly again. I do think, however, that the first cab driver was being very rude and unhelpful. I'm not sure if it was Emily Post or one of her successors, but someone said that manners should put people at ease. When they are used as a verbal weapon, it ceases to be mannerly. I agree with others on the board that there was a much more tactful way to relate the custom without being rude. Kim


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Alexandra
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January 19, 2009 10:12 pm  

Maybe there is also a gender component in how islanders teach the local cultural manner system to new arrivals. I've seen other men act as taxi driver #1, but more often I see women who are approached by someone wanting help with something who start in immediately with the request for assistance without a greeting first. Quite often the woman being approached will look up and pause for a second or two and then very carefully say Good Morning... and then another pause... and the person who has just been gently instructed usually "gets it". They have just been schooled as if they were a young child being taught elementary manners.

The hard part for new arrivals is that on the mainland it is usually considered extremely rude to break into an ongoing conversation when you arrive on scene without waiting for a pause and some kind of acknowledgement from at least one of the speakers, so it is very hard to speak up with a strong Good Morning if there is a conversation in progress when you walk into a room.

I knew a family who lived here for a few years who had a son at Country Day. His teacher absolutely did NOT allow the kids to call her Ma'am and they were in huge trouble if they did. Now this family was from Arkansas and he had been raised to say Yes, Ma'am to any older female. His mother did not understand about the teacher's prohibition of the word and he was between a rock and a hard place at a parent/teacher conference when his mother instructed him to answer the teacher with a Yes Ma'am at one point in the meeting and all the boy could do was look like a deer in the headlights and look down at his feet and keep his lips tightly closed because he knew he could not make both women happy.

Sometimes cultures clash and no matter how polite you are trying to be, you can't make everyone happy.


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A Davis
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January 19, 2009 11:17 pm  

I am glad you posted this Alexandra, because it clearly illustrates the fact that the majority of the people do not want to be rude. We should all approach everyone with the idea that they do not wish to offend anyone and act accordingly.


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