As I approach my 20th year as a Pinehurst resident, I think that my perspective on village hospitality might be worth hearing.
In 2000, I was recruited to come to Moore County and told that I would be joining a growing number of young professionals relocating to the area. As an avid golfer, I had known of Pinehurst for some time and had, of course, watched Payne Stewart’s electrifying win of the 1999 U.S. Open. During my recruiting visits, I was told that, while Pinehurst was primarily a retirement community, things were changing and that young people were creating more activities for themselves and their families. I was excited about coming to Pinehurst, purchased a house, and made plans to move here in 2001.
During the move, the transmission on my 5-year-old pickup truck began to “rattle and hum.” Needless to say, it was obvious to me and anyone within 100 yards that I needed a mechanic. While leading the moving van to my new house in Pinehurst No. 6, I stopped to ask two women for directions. I barely had my window rolled down before one of the women shrieked, “What are you doing around here with that noisy piece of junk?. We don’t need that kind of trash around here.” Having a decent amount of ego strength, and an even higher amount of a sense of humor, I replied with a chuckle, “Neither do I. It just began rattling and I need to get it looked at.”
I never got to ask directions as both women turned away from me and quickly walked down the street. It was my first experience of Pinehurst “hostiltality” but not the last.
Please don’t misunderstand me. As a result of being involved in community activities, I have formed many lifetime friendships with some wonderful Pinehurst residents. Through the years I have sung with The Golf Capital Chorus, been a Tin Whistle and a member of MGA. I have been active in local churches, schools and youth sports.
But there remains an element of Pinehurst that thinks too highly of itself and looks down on those they deem unworthy of living in their view of “paradise.” This is especially evident in the attempts of some residents to limit freedom of property use and the lack of plain old hospitality and neighborliness.
I’ve been blessed to live in a lot of wonderful and beautiful places in my life, including exclusive neighborhoods in Princeton, Atlanta, Austin, Nashville and Malibu. Never have I experienced the brand of sheer snobbery and lack of hospitality as I have in Pinehurst.
I believe this is one of the primary reasons native North Carolinians often refer to Pinehurst as “Yankee Town.” As Pinehurst has transitioned from being primarily a retirement community to a military town, I have sensed an increase in this Pinehurst “hostiltality” from the old retirement guard: consistently lodging complaints with the police and the village about playground equipment, bicycles, trash disposal, family pets and oversized vehicles parked safely and temporarily on the owners’ property.
The most recent tempest in a teapot occurred when I brought my travel trailer home to prepare for our Thanksgiving trip. I live on a street that begins at a dead end and runs some 500 yards to a cul de sac. Noticing a flat tire on my trailer, and more wear on the other tires than I cared to take on the road, I ordered new tires and proceeded to change them in 45-degree drizzling rain.
Some of my neighbors stopped to offer sympathy and help. Others called the police and the village office to complain, causing me to wonder if I really was cousin Eddie at a Griswold Family Christmas. After throwing away my dickie and white shoes I decided I was not. The village official who oversees such major “threats” to our neighborhood deftly fended off my accusers while kindly asking me to move the trailer ASAP.
There must be a better way to address this conflict of priorities, perceptions and goals for the community in which we live. A noted American poet once observed that, after living in a number of neighborhoods, every street has “mensches and jerks.”
Let me suggest that we all try a bit harder to be more humane by being more flexible, more understanding and more compassionate toward our neighbors. That we show more of a willingness to bend rules and regulations for the good of neighborhood relationships. That we mute complaints in an attempt to better understand our neighbors. And that we try to view our neighbors as potential friends instead of lodging complaints about them with government authorities.
Maybe then we will begin to be known more for Pinehurst hospitality than Pinehurst “hostiltality.”
Mark Carver is a Pinehurst resident.