When I was a sophomore in high school, my Eastern North Carolina school hired a recent college graduate to teach social studies and coach football (mostly to coach football). He was only a few years older than the students. To say he was sure of himself would be a gross understatement. Still, we liked him and found him interesting.

What fascinated us the most? He was from New York City. Most of us had never been to New York City. (Why would you leave the coast for vacation?)

What I knew about the City came from hearing my elders’ warnings, reading the sports section of the newspaper, or watching television, usually the police shows and “Welcome Back, Kotter.” I knew that people got run over, mugged, and killed all the time. Remember Son of Sam?

Because this coach went to college somewhere in North Carolina, he was well aware of our image of the Big City, and he capitalized on it. We heard stories of run-ins with gangs, walking arm in arm with his brother so they could fight as a team, and seeing people mugged daily.

A local family befriended the young, single man, often inviting him to dinner and other family gatherings. One son in the family was my friend and traveled with the coach to visit the coach’s family one weekend.

Turned out, his yarns were gross exaggerations or, most likely, complete fabrications. He was from New York, but their only venture into the City was a planned sight-seeing trip. The coach grew up in the suburbs, solidly middle class.

I wonder what New Yorkers are thinking about North Carolina based Lowe’s announcement that it will not enforce its requirement that customers wear a mask while shopping. Lowe’s published reason is that enforcing the requirement may jeopardize employees’ safety when they confront resistant customers.

I will leave the mask debate to others. My question is have we lost all sense of civility? Do we really fear for the safety of an employee enforcing a store’s code of conduct? Should we expect an influx of diners without shirts and shoes? What happens when the restaurant refuses to take my American Express?

I have traveled a fair amount outside the United States, worked with people from all over the country, and selected jurors from all around the state. At various times, I have met hostility, compassion, and ambivalence. I don’t believe any region or town has a monopoly on good manners or civility. My conclusion is most people share the same basic goals.

But, I do wonder whether a bunch of New York City high schoolers are questioning whether it’s safe to travel to North Carolina after Lowe’s announcement this week.

However others might image our state, we continue to represent people accused of criminal offenses and professional misconduct who risk losing everything. We work to get them their best possible results and back to leading productive lives.

Call if you need us, or if you just want to say hello.