(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
"Some of the nicest people you'll ever meet live in Minnesota," I once told my husband, Patrick, as yet another reason we should leave our then home in New York and venture west. He wasn't convinced. In fact, neither was I.
Growing up in Wisconsin, I knew us mid-westerners were the cream of the crop when it came to friendly. We'll talk to you in line at the grocery store and snow blow your sidewalk- without asking for payment. We're pretty impressive.
The whole daily living experience is that of great contrast from the pushiness and 0-patience mentality of New York. We needed a breath of fresh air, both literally and figuratively. I didn't know, however, if Minnesota would fit the bill. Though I grew up in nearby Wisconsin, I didn't really understand all that Minnesota had to offer. So I bluffed.
"You'll be blown away at how friendly everyone is," I continued in my pursuit to persuade Patrick. "The people there genuinely care about each other and their community. That's something we rarely see here."
After growing up in Brooklyn, I seriously doubt the "friendly" factor was the deciding element, nonetheless, something among my pleas worked, and shortly after our move he understood.
We, in Minnesota, really are nice!
I, myself, was recently reminded of this nationally-understood fact while driving along I-694 this weekend.
It was more than refreshing to see the vehicle in front of me pull onto the shoulder along the side of two men who looked to be beginning a long walk to the nearest gas station, red can in hand. On a brisk winter day, that gesture was much more than a ride; it was a visual sign that the "niceness" is still alive and well.
My second inward smile of the day came while standing in line at Goodwill in Coon Rapids. "Here you go," a customer said to another as he handed him a small CD player. "I saw you were looking for one earlier and I found this on a shelf in the back of the store." The shopper was thrilled.
It's amazing how such small gestures can make such an impactful difference on both those we help and those who witness our actions.