To the Editor of THE EAGLE:

My family, on both my mother’s and father’s sides, has lived in West Stockbridge for five generations, right "off the boat" from Italy. Many things have changed since they first settled in the Berkshires, but the change that is most heartbreaking is the overall treatment of people from different levels of socioeconomic class, especially in the attitudes of disrespect directed toward the locals.

I can’t count the amount of times I’ve gone out of my way to stop and let another vehicle out in front of me on Main Street, West Stockbridge, but I can count the waves of gratitude I’ve received: not many.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in line at the grocery store and had to bear witness to the unnecessary berating of an employee. I can’t count the number of times I had come home crying after a night of busing tables.

Incidents like these are not isolated. A close friend of mine, who is 18 years old, spent his summer working two jobs at 70 hours a week to put his way through college, one of which was parking cars at a local venue.

Upon asking a family who had set up a picnic in the parking lot to relocate to another area (an order given from his superiors) my friend was not only abrasively confronted, but one of the women in the party said to him, "I hope you flunk out of school and end up parking cars at McDonald’s.


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Why was that comment necessary? How could anyone find it in themselves to be so rude to a kid? To another person?

I recognize and am thankful for the tourism industry of the Berkshires, because I know we wouldn’t be anywhere without it. But I can’t wrap my head around the lack of compassion shown from one human being toward another. My friend parking cars, he’s not just an orange vest, he’s a person, who’s working hard to make a life for himself, and he deserves to be treated with kindness. Kindness starts by realizing you don’t know what others are going through.

As I’m going into my senior year of college, many people have asked me if I plan on returning to the Berkshires. I loved growing up here, but at the rate the state of disrespect is progressing, I don’t think I want to come back.

The Berkshires are a beautiful place. But they just aren’t nice anymore. I’m not asking for a lot. I’m just asking for kindness. I’m asking for a wave.

SHAWNA NORTON

West Stockbridge