Want to fit in as a newcomer or incognito tourist? Allow me to slip you some tips that’ll help you along.
Be friendly. Native Nashvillians tend to be nice folks but as the city grows, we may be slipping a notch or two. Still, visitors and newcomers often marvel at what a gracious, welcoming city we are. In fact, we were ranked as the Friendliest City in America according to Travel + Leisure magazine in 2016. If you’re calling Nashville home, do your part to keep up our reputation.
Be nice…and not just to people you know. Speak to people (my parents’ way of saying “greet’). Hold the door for someone. Pick up after your dog. Look your server or cashier in the eye. Allow another driver to make a turn or enter the flow of traffic. Don’t let our legacy down.
Don’t gurm. It means to act like an annoying tourist. Yes, we’ve got a fair share of celebrities here but we respect their privacy. Most of our famous folks are pretty nice–but don’t impose upon them. A gurm will interrupt Vince Gill in the middle of his breakfast to get his autograph or impose upon Nicole Kidman’s family time at the library. Act like a native. Be chill.
Don’t speak ill of any longtime Nashvillian. It’s likely he or she is related to someone you know. Avoid the awkwardness and possibly save your job.
Love thy neighbor, y’all. Even the jerks next door (although you don’t have to invite them to your next cook-out). Nashville is widely recognized as a city that helps others. We get involved. We pitch in. We raise money. We don’t mind getting messy to help someone in need. Don’t believe me? Read about the 6,000 volunteers who dedicate time and resources to house the homeless through Room In The Inn or learn how we responded in the aftermath of the 2010 Nashville flood.
Wear real clothes. Most of us don’t wear cowboy boots and hats, boot-cut jeans, big belt buckles and shirts with snaps instead of buttons. Heck, we’re even home to nationally recognized fashion designers.
Use good manners when driving. Let someone into traffic or make a turn. Don’t block an intersection, cut someone off, blaze through a traffic light that’s turning red or lean on your horn. Lower your blood pressure, take it easy and avoid road rage. Note: traditionally Nashvillians use their horns to toot (say hello, get attention, etc.) rather than produce a long-lasting blare which is considered over-the-top except for major emergencies.
Rebuff the stereotypes. Ask any native: we wear shoes. “Hee Haw” was a TV show, not a way of life. Not everyone with a southern drawl is ignorant or backward. Not everyone here loves country music. All Christians are not judgmental jerks. You don’t have to live in East Nashville,12South or the Gulch to be hip. And not all Nashvillians are bad drivers—they’re just on the road more than the rest of us.
Follow these guidelines and you’re well on your way to passing as a native Nashvillian. We’re glad you’re here and hope you’re willing to step up to make Nashville an even better place to live.