You know, if you are from Minnesota or have lived here for a long time you don’t realize just how nice and polite everyone is to one another. If you take a trip to somewhere like New York City or Los Angeles it can almost be frightening as you suddenly realize that not everyone is “nice”.
If you have a lot of time to spare one of the classic examples of Minnesota Nice can be found at a 4 way stop intersection. I had some clients in the car from the east coast not long ago and they could not believe what they were seeing. In most states everyone wants to drive and horns honk but not in Minnesota – that would not be polite. In driver’s training we learn that the car on the right has the right of way but in reality, at a 4 way stop we all just stop and look at each other. No one wants to drive for fear of being impolite and possibly driving out of turn and upsetting someone. At first it is quite humorous but in time it can really get on your nerves. It is a bit like a tv skit with everyone saying “you go, no you go, no you go” until finally someone musters up the courage to just drive.
Where else can you go to the drug store to pick up a few items and when you are at the cash register the clerk tells you that the one item is less expensive with the coupon but since you did not know that and therefore do not have one, the cashier proceeds to hold up the entire line behind you and go on an intense search of the newspapers under the counter to find you, a perfect stranger, the coupon to save you money! True story and it happens ALL the time, not just in smaller towns but right here in the Twin Cities and the people waiting in line do not say a word.
So, you took a nice vacation to a tropical island in February to escape the mountains of snow and below zero temperatures. You hear that while you were gone there was a snow storm that dumped 2 feet of snow in your neighborhood. On the flight home you are dreading having to shovel out your driveway before you can get your car into the garage and you are thinking “why am I living in Minnesota”. Unfortunately, you are new to the area and have not really met your neighbors since you moved into your new home in the winter so you did not have anyone that you could ask to shovel for you. Your plane lands, you load up the bags in the car, drive home and low and behold, your driveway and walkway are shoveled and someone even dug out your mailbox from the 6 ft drift Mr. Snowplow driver so lovingly left for you. That is a Minnesota neighborhood – no need to ask – we just look out for one another because that is the nice and correct thing to do and it really happens. Now try to find out who did it, no one wants to fess up because they don’t do it for recognition, simply to be nice. If you do manage to find out who shoveled for you just bring them some bars and say thank you.
While we may not know you from a hole in the wall, we Minnesotans have no problem helping you change a flat tire, borrow a mixer, let you borrow a ladder, have some gas for your lawn mower that just ran out of gas in the middle of mowing your lawn or help you carry in your furniture and boxes when you are first moving in.
Many people do say that although we Minnesotans are all very nice on the outside we are tough nuts to crack when it comes down to getting to know us. We tend to not just open up and start telling our life story. Lots of small talk is needed before you can really find out who we are but it is not entirely bad to at least come away with a polite and friendly first impression. If your car stalls in the middle of the road it is nice to know that no matter how angry and frustrated the other drivers are, no one will honk or yell at you and most likely a few other drivers will simply get out and help you push your car to the side of the road and call a tow truck for you – Minnesota Nice!