Thursday, April 12, 2007

Minnesota Nice: myth or reality

As I actually put in more than eight hours yesterday for the first time in over 6 months, I pondered many things. One of my ponderings was is Minnesota Nice actually exists or is it a a cleverly phrased slam at how closed off and rude many Minnesotans come off as.

If you aren't familiar with the term, and I suspect many outside of the state aren't, Minnesota Nice is broadly defined as the generous and unselfish nature supposedly possessed by the bulk of Minnesotans who would gladly hold the door open for you, grad something from a high shelf in the grocery store or buy a drink for a new face in town.

I'll admit that I have given and received some of that much-talked-about Minnesota nice but it isn't as prevalent as one would seem with all the talk about it whenever Minnesota is brought up as a topic. Maybe, for me, it is just the specific locations where this seemingly mythical "Minnesota Nice" is absent from.

Or maybe it does exist. According to a friend living in the Phoenix, Arizona area; life in general is much better here in Minnesota, don't cha know... While rudeness seems to be around every corner in the Twin Cities metro area, I feel that is because of the congestion of traffic, the density of the population and the need by some to constantly be outdoing others and, therefore, spreading themselves too thin making for one pissed off suburbanite.

That mythical Minnesota Nice isn't a myth as you travel to what Minnesotans refer to as "Up North". While there is no true definition about where "Up North" begins, I define it as being away from the sprawl and suburbanization of the northern Twin Cities. Picture a line from Cambridge to Alexandria on the map below.Maybe it's because the population is less dense or that life in general has less hustle and bustle but genuine "Nice" exists north of here. Sure, at times the area known as "Up North" can be overrun with vacationing suburbanites who bring their Twin Cities rude along for the long weekend but once they get a taste of some homemade blueberry pie at a smalltown diner or see trees that weren't purchased for $200 each at a nursery, they become less jaded and begin to mellow.

Spend more than a long weekend "Up North" and you'll learn to turn off your cell phone as it doesn't work there anyway. Soon you'll become accustomed to the lack of a Starbucks every 650 feet (that's a corporate goal for Starbucks Worldwide) and you'll appreciate that bottomless cup of simple black coffee where you experienced the world's best damn blueberry pie a day earlier.

Before you know it, you want to try some eelpout and various pickled bar foods. Another couple days and you'll find yourself driving slower, shaving less and wearing a mesh baseball-style cap complete with the sewn-on patch of a local business and you'll like.

Of course, eventually, you'll head back to your vinyl-clad split-level with a berm in the back yard and a busy four-lane street beyond that. You'll go back to competing with the neighbor and you'll slip back into your old ways of cursing everyone in traffic but while you stew about being stuck on 494 in Bloomington, you might flash back to that blueberry pie and mellow out, if only for a second.

8 comments:

Michelle Ann said...

I think you have it about right....overrall "niceness" exists more often when you live in a simplier place. I live in a city and find that people, although not overtly nice, can at least behave decently. However, you find a lot more assholes in the city. When I visit San Francisco, it's even worse...if your car doesn't move the nano second that the light turns green, you get a very aggressive honk and can see the angry arm gestures of the other driver in the rearview mirror...It makes me grateful to leave.

Beth said...

I agree...why can you only find "nice' in simple, small towns?

"Can't we all just get along?" ;)

mist1 said...

One of the things that's nice about living in the South is that when they don't like you, they just burn a cross in your front yard.

I like the openness.

No said...

I'm an idiot--what's a Berm?

Sornie said...

Hey, don't think that in the north that crosses don't get burned in yards, it just isn't as common.

As for a berm, it's essentially a man-made hill of dirt to block the sound from a highway. I see them all the time where people's yards back up to a highway because of that great urban planning.

Rook said...

Highway 210 is unofficially designated as the border between Northern Minnesota and Central Minnesota.

Sornie said...

Now I have to ask Rook, where in the hell is highway 210? Most of my "up north" excursions involve me fighting traffic up I-35

Larry said...

Minnesota Niceness" is a lie people tell themselves to make themselves feel better. I would even say it is an "Inside Joke".. It is the equivalent of saying, "Southern Hospitality"...I have spent a lot of time in the South and there is nothing hospitable about it.

Passive-Agressive Behavior is not Nice...

Road Rage is not Nice.....

Ramming your cart into someone at Target is not Nice.

Not being open to finding and establishing new friends is not Nice..

In a nut shell, being fake, standoffish, I will only be artificial when I have something selfishly to gain, and quite simply rude in society is not nice..it is called being a jerk...

If you are not from Minnesota and you visit you think to yourself...What is wrong with these people?"...Yes..many of my friends from out-of-state say this...

Is it any surprise when people from Minnesota move to another State they are homesick and don't adapt well...of course..we are never the problem..it is everyone around them that has the problem...eventually they have to move back to Minnesota so they can comfortably be awful to each other again...

Minnesota is the "Midwest California"...

If you are "Nice" you don't have to tell people you are....it comes out in your actions and it is just known by others...