Looking for the aloha spirit in Tucson
Tucson Citizen
March 25, 2008


Author: Freelance, CAROLYN CLASSEN
Growing up on the Big Island of Hawaii, we take the "aloha spirit" practiced on each other for granted.

For those of you who don't know the Hawaiian language , "aloha" usually means "love" or "caring."

There are even bumper stickers saying "Live aloha." We locals try to spread aloha when we can.

Some folks don't know what the aloha spirit is, so let me provide a few examples.

Back home in the city of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, many people shop at KTA Downtown or KTA Puainako, both supermarkets owned by a Mr. K. Taniguchi.

Whenever sales are advertised, many shoppers come to take advantage of them, using published discount coupons from the newspaper or a coupon booklet.

Several times while shopping at KTA, I forgot to bring my coupons for the discount. But exhibiting true aloha spirit, the checkout clerks would reach for a coupon book and cut out the discount coupon for me.

This has never happened to me here in Tucson. Naturally I was pleased that they would be so nice and generous. That is aloha spirit.

Also in Hawaii, drivers are very courteous and hardly ever honk at each other.

Once when I was driving up Waianuenue Avenue in Hilo, a large flatbed truck was trying to turn around.

Most of us on both sides of the truck just sat patiently and waited seven minutes or more. Not a single driver honked, as that is considered rude. (And I have lived in Boston where almost every driver honks.)

Moreover, many drivers on the main streets in Hawaii will customarily slow down and let another car from a side road into the main street, in front of them.

And almost everyone lets pedestrians have the right of way while crossing. These pedestrians usually wave back in gratitude. That is aloha spirit.

Finally, my last example is the amount of free fruit people generously give to each other in Hawaii.

Whenever we have extra bananas, mountain apples, lemons, oranges, lychee or longan, we give it to friends, family, co-workers, library staff, strangers, etc.

You often see free fruit on counters at the store, the beach, park tables, etc. That is aloha spirit.

My quest recently was to see if I could locate some aloha spirit here in Tucson.

I went out every day for weeks, looking around Tucson for extra acts of kindness, generosity or thoughtfulness similar to what I see exhibited back home in Hawaii.

I did find a few examples of "pima spirit" here.

I found free tangeloes on the counter at the Asian Institute of Medical Studies.

In one week, two different drivers let me into the traffic at Speedway and Alvernon from side streets.

And one day, two guys on the Sun Tran bus helped push open the rear door for a woman and her small child, without being asked.

Maybe I haven't looked hard enough or in the right places.

I think I need your help. Dear readers of the "My Tucson" column, please write to me and provide your examples of aloha spirit (extra kindness, generosity) here in Tucson and Pima County.

I hope to share your examples in one of my next columns or blogs. Mahalo (thanks).

Carolyn Classen, originally from Hawaii, is a former legislative aide to U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye and former practicing attorney who now is a community volunteer and Small Claims Court hearing officer. E-mail: carolynclassen@yahoo.com
Section: Citizen Voices
Page: 1B
Dateline: Tucson, AZ
Record Number: tuc22944192