The River's Badge

Thursday, December 21, 2017

"Nice"


I'm not a native Minnesotan. Well, I sorta am, in a roundabout way. I lived in Minnesota for the first eleven years of my life; northern Minnesota, which is different from "Minnesota" as most people know it. Then I moved to North Dakota and resided there for around thirty years, so, yes, I'm a North Dakotan.

I moved back to Minnesota eighteen years ago, and it was strange for the longest time. I know residents of other states are conceited (see: Texas), but I've never seen such self-lauding as I've found here, and frankly, for so little reason. Guess what? Minnesota has brutal winters -- just like North Dakota. Granted, Minnesota has trees, which most of North Dakota doesn't have, but trees are hardly a reason to pat oneself on the back. I mean, they're trees. Not exactly a scant commodity.

And if I hear the term, "Minnesota nice" one more time, I'm gonna puke. Apparently, in addition to trees, Minnesotans pride themselves on being nice. What's interesting is that the people here aren't actually nice (though some are, just like everywhere). What Minnesotans are is "passive-aggressive". Just venture out on the roads.

"Nice" is a loaded term. Some people might call me "nice", but what I am is "polite". That doesn't make me nice. I'm not Mother Theresa.

My first week on the job, as everyone I encountered made a point of ignoring me, the term "Minnesota nice" kept rifling through my head, and I thought, well, no; these people aren't nice. The people in North Dakota are nice.

Once, in the mid-1990's, feeling compelled to attempt to drive in to work, even though we'd just been umbrellaed by a monster snowstorm and the snowplow drivers were too scared to venture out on the roads, I (naturally) managed to get my Ford Taurus mucked inside a snowbank somewhere between the main thoroughfare and the tiny side street I normally motored down to get to Master Insurance Office. It was six o'clock in the morning and cell phones had not yet been invented. I pushed my car door open and mushed through the snow drifts (in my heels) until I spotted a house with its lights on. I rang the bell and a stranger whipped open his front door. I explained to him that I was a complete idiot, and he offered to drive me home (I only wanted to use his phone).

That's nice.

I felt guilty forever for that favor. That's another component of "nice". You feel like a jerk for putting someone out.

I don't know about other states and how their residents refer to themselves. Maybe everyone is boastful (except the Dakotans -- because bragging would be...well, impertinent).

I'm not big on self-aggrandizement. If you have to tout yourself, a big lie lies beneath.

Don't get me wrong -- I like Minnesota now. Not as much as I love North Dakota, but it's okay. I had to get used to Minnesotans' worship of local TV newscasters, but I solved that by just not watching the news. And the seasons are nice; at least two of them. However, give me a rural county road any day. Much more aesthetically soothing than a battle-ram freeway.

And "nice"? That's a loaded word.



(Thank you, Zal.)



(Thank you, Brian.)

When you look at it that way, nice is kind of "nice".










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