I’m a good driver.
I have never been in an accident. I’ve never received a speeding ticket. I’ve never even been pulled over. I’m attentive. I give other drivers distance. Other than taking occasional liberties with the speed limit, I obey the rules of the road.
I, however, am a rare treat on the roads of Minnesota. The drivers are terrible. Awful. Horrible. Painful. And worst of all, ass holes.
The other day I was driving on the freeway during rush hour; which, naturally, required slowing down from time to time. Per usual, the guy behind me was riding my ass, and when forced to hit my breaks because of the slowing cavalcade of cars, he had to slam on his brakes to avoid rear ending me. He then worked his way into the other lane for the sole purpose of swearing at me (which of course I couldn’t hear through our two vehicles) and flicking me off. Typical.
Now I’ve travelled a fair amount, and am well aware there is road rage everywhere. It may not even be worse in Minnesota than anywhere else. Minnesota road rage, though, is sneaky bad because of one little misnomer: Minnesota nice.
Minnesota nice doesn’t exist.
That isn’t to say that people in Minnesota are meaner than anywhere else, they just aren’t necessarily nicer. People seem to be confusing politeness with niceness.
A Minnesotan will answer a question politely, and act nice to a person’s face, but then immediately follow that up by saying something behind that person’s back. A quick judgmental decision.
Conversely, someone from, say, New York or Boston will tell you to fuck off right to your face.
Now, you can argue which one of those things is “nicer,” but neither occurrence is particularly friendly, if you ask me.
This brings me back to Minnesota drivers. Nowhere does a Minnesotan show their true colors like they do in their car.
Minnesotans speed. They tailgate. They ignore traffic laws. They curse. They road rage. They act selfishly. Minnesotans do all this because they are in the cocoon of their car, impervious to the rest of the world. They feel safe to act this way because you aren’t in the car with them, and they don’t have to worry about being judged.
Even as they drive past you cursing and flicking you off, they feel the anonymity between two separate stage coaches, and the comfort of being inside their own. Ironically, should you meet the cursing stranger at a gas station up the road, that very same person would offer you directions without hesitation, “Just head up nort there, then. Ya know?”
(As a side note: we really do sound like William H. Macy in Fargo. Seriously. If you are from Minnesota, listen closely to a fellow Minnesotan speak. Just stop and listen for the little Minnesota-isms from an as-objective-as-possible point of view. I guarantee you notice it.)
Now, one can argue the meaning of the word “nice,” obviously. It is a mostly subjective term. But, really, Minnesotans are no friendlier than any other group of people.
If you disagree, just take to the Minnesota roads and see how the people act in the comfort of their own car.