Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Oh Minnesota!

Copyright 2010 - Jonathan K. Lee - All Rights Reserved

Above is a photo I snapped of a funnel cloud forming over I-35W a couple of weeks ago. The weather has been a bit more wild and wooly here in the TC this summer. Today, since I'm disgusted with both the politicians here, and have had just about enough of the "Minnesota Nice" bullshit, I'm going to bash my adopted home today.

There's a rule here in Minnesota, unspoken and unwritten though it may be. It is: no matter how angry, frustrated, irritated or bent out of shape you may be regarding the actions of others, you must stoically remain silent and steadfastly refuse to show any displeasure whatsoever.

Since I moved to Minnesota a couple of years ago, I have often heard Minnesotans speak of a quality known as "Minnesota Nice." Having spent most of my life on the East Coast surrounded by New Yorkers who speak their minds, I have always found "Minnesota Nice" to be quite... well, annoying.

Oh, you ran over my foot? Twice? With a train? No problem. Off you go. Godspeed and good health to you. *cheery wave*

You can always tell when you're dealing with a non-native (um... that would be ME), because we end up speaking our mind, which is just a horrifying concept to a Minnesotan.

"He said exactly what was on his mind? How RUDE!"

Many people think that Minnesota Nice is an exaggeration, a myth, but it is not, let me assure you. Some of these people actually think that they are being polite! I'm a New Yorker and I absoultely refuse to adhere to the rules set forth by Minnesota Nice.

I speak up while standing in line for anything, even if the person in front of me is talking on a cell phone about last night's episode of Law and Order, and is totally oblivious to the world around her, and uses the word "like" as if it's a substitute for breathing, and could probably qualify as some sort of defective mental subject. No, I don't just stand there, especially since the bank teller is waving her ahead, and has been for about FIVE MINUTES NOW!!!!!

Anyway, where was I?

The one time that Minnesota Nice does not apply is while driving. When a typically "nice" Minnesotan is behind the wheel, they have entered a dimension in which they are free to drive as if they were the only vehicle on the road.

There is, I believe, no other place on the planet where simple rules of driving courtesy are dismissed with such reckless abandon as Minnesota. You want to merge? HA! Foolish mortal. Don't you know that I'm being the rude, angry person I wanted to be yesterday while waiting in line at Quiznos with that stupid person in front of me who changed his order roughly 18 MILLION times? Therefore, you shall NOT merge! I shall drive you into the median before I allow you to merge! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Minnesota Nice refers to the stereotype of Minnesotan residents to be mild mannered, (bullshit) helpful (only if obligated), and generous hosts (not bloody likely). Minnesotans are believed to know their neighbors (HAHAHAHAHA!!!), help one another out (never in an altruistic way), and to be polite yet reserved to strangers.(Where I come from, we call this type of behavior rude and passive-aggressive)

All states have a mix of nice and less-than-nice residents, but are there more nice Minnesotans than the rest of America?

Every state has people who will help you out in a bind, as well as people who won't. That is nothing special to Minnesota.

Minnesota Nice is basically a form of social conduct in which people say hi to you, make small talk, or even jump start your car; not because they want to, but because they have been conditioned to socially do so (passive-aggressive).

It is also being polite for the sake of not being confrontational, no matter how the person really feels about the situation (more passive-aggressiveness).

A Minnesotan will always back down if found in a confrontation (even if they are right and everyone knows it) simply to avoid an argument or possibly hurting others feelings. Instead of saying what is their mind to your face, they will then go around to their friends and talk about what an as*hole you are. Passive aggressive?

On another (and just as stupid) note:

Tim Pawlenty is a Drug War Idiot

Don't take my word for it, just look what he did:

Despite near-unanimous support, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has vetoed a bill preventing prosecutors from using bong water to calculate the weight of controlled substances in drug prosecutions — and a lawmaker who helped pass the legislation accused the governor of doing so for political reasons.

The bill was the result of a 4-3 Minnesota Supreme Court decision last year that allowed Rice County prosecutors to charge Sara Ruth Peck, 47, of Faribault, with first-degree drug possession — a charge often reserved for drug dealers — after the water in a glass pipe tested positive for traces of methamphetamine. I wrote about this case a few months back.

If Pawlenty is condoning this nonsense for political reasons, he needs to go on the internet or something. This guy is a rumored republican presidential candidate for 2012, but he apparently missed the memo that mind-blowing acts of reefer madness aren't exactly selling out stadiums these days.

Perhaps this bong controversy is too nuanced to screw him, but his veto of a medical marijuana bill that would only have protected dying patients is another story. Note to Gary Johnson: if you find yourself in a debate with Tim Pawlenty, ask him why he wants to arrest terminal AIDS patients for using pot brownies to stimulate their appetite.

And while you're at it, ask him if he thinks Michael Phelps should have been charged as a drug trafficker for the weight of the water in that bong he smoked.

With the tough economy continuing to hit individuals, families, and businesses nationwide, progressive legislators have sought to protect vital public investment in the nation’s communities, while many conservative lawmakers have turned to slashing social support for the most vulnerable Americans.

And His GOP-Endorsed Replacement

Minnesota GOP candidate for Governor Tom Emmer falls in the second camp. Speaking to reporters yesterday, Emmer proposed cutting the minimum wage for service workers who receive tips, such as bartenders and waiters. In order to justify the cut, Emmer said that some of these employees earn “over $100,000 a year,” and even make more than the people who employ them:

Tom Emmer, the GOP-endorsed candidate for governor, told reporters at the Eagle Street Grille in St. Paul on Monday that the minimum wage for service workers who earn tips should be cut. Some waiters and bartenders, he noted, can earn as much as $100,000 a year, which he said is unfair to the employers that hire them.

“With the tips that they get to take home, they are some people earning over $100,000 a year. More than the very people providing the jobs and investing not only their life savings but their families’ future,” Emmer said.

Minnesota is one of few states that does not follow the federal minimum wage for tip-earners — $2.13 an hour. Instead, tip-earners make $5.25 to $7.25 an hour in addition to tips. Emmer says that hurts businesses’ bottom lines.

“Government can only inhibit business, can only keep it from growing, as opposed to creating jobs,” he said. “Right now, we have too much of it, guys. We’ve got to pull government back.”

In making his case for cutting the minimum wage for service employees, Emmer cites a figure that is wildly misrepresentative. While it may be true that “some” service workers can earn “over $100,000 a year,” most do not. According to the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Services (BLS), Minnesota food and beverage service workers earned an average of $10.45 an hour in May 2010, a number that includes tips.

That means that the average full-time worker whose salary Emmer wants to cut likely earns less than a third of the dollar figure he cited in pushing for the cuts. Rather than trying to punish working class Minnesotans for for the sins of the financial elite that sent the economy into a tailspin, maybe Emmer should be working to stop the massive teacher layoffs and tuition hikes that his Republican colleague Gov. Tim Pawlenty has caused with his stubborn refusal to raise revenues by taxing the super wealthy.

Any New Yorkers with political aspirations want to come out here?

We'll OWN this motherfucking state in 18 months.


  1. You know, I made a neat 88,545 while working at Perkins one year, making $2.90/hour plus tips. Oh wait, I'm sorry, I drank the bong water again.

    In other news, I think Portlanders could be substituted in that bit about "Minnesota Nice" being the social conduct of making small talk and maybe jumping your car because it looks good. I've never been somewhere like this ... where my friendly chitchat over a table of sweaters is considered pushy and overbearing. Me? Hahaha. Let me introduce you to my friends if you want some in your face action!


    Another Buffalo ex-pat here in the Midwest(Cleveland), and boy do I ever feel your frustration. There is a level of rudeness here that would NEVER in a million years be tolerated back home in WNY, let alone anywhere in New York State. Passive-/covert-aggressive behavior is the order of the day, and forget making polite talk with a total stranger(one example: I've been a runner for the past 20 years, but I've stopped entering races here because the running community is so cliquish and unwelcoming to those of us who are transplants).

    People here treat each other like garbage and they get-off on doing it. I guess that the similarity between "Cleveland Nice" and "Minnesota Nice" becomes evident when the offended party(me) has the temerity to call-out the offender. You can't do that here, because you're immediately labeled as "mean" or "Type A."

    Hey, on a positive note, at least Minnesotans and Portlanders will actually stop to help you if you have car trouble. If your car dies in Cleveland, people will just drive by and stare at you!