Tracker Pixel for Entry

Our opinion: North Dakota nice vs passive aggression

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Editorial | October 17th, 2018

Art by Lauryn Lesley @digitaldoodz

This weekend I was showing a friend of mine some Fargo hotspots. He was visiting from the West Coast, so naturally I was playing up the Midwest’s many charms.

He mentioned that one thing that differed from the West Coast was the midwestern passive aggression. Since then it has come up in conversation multiple times, but where does it come from? I halfway joked that road rage wasn’t nearly as common up here because if you give someone the finger, odds are they more than likely went to high school with your mom’s friend’s brother and it was bound to catch up with you sooner rather than later but you could still stew over it.

I can’t speak for the rest of the Midwest but I have a North Dakota theory and it can’t be too much different than a Minnesota theory or a South Dakota theory and maybe even a Montana or Wyoming theory. I can’t speak for Wisconsin because they have a reputation for not returning the farmer wave -- which is a back road courtesy where I’m from, though it is slowly disappearing it has something to do with my theory.

We may live in the big city of Fargo, but we’re a large grouping of country mice. Many of us grew up small towns within the surrounding area or were the bi-product of small town transplants. Fargo-Moorhead may be considered a metropolitan area but we have the fortune of having one boot in the city and another in the country, and that adds to our charm and good nature (for the most part).

I explore a lot of small towns off the beaten path and relish time spent in towns with a population of 100 or less. You can learn a lot from people in small groups. It’s not hard to meet people and odds are they’ll know you’re there before you see any of them.

Some may find this invasive I find it endearing.

If you’re a lifelong resident of Smallsville and ‘ol Joe doesn’t make it to the cafe by 9am and he’s usually there by 8am on the dot someone may start to worry because you watch out for your own. On the inside you might think he’s a no good son-of-a-gun but deep down you hope he’s ok. Once he finally comes in, you’ll never admit you were doing some wondering because really, it’s none of your business. You just sip your coffee and act indifferent.

You may have a neighbor or relative that no one likes and you may have gotten into it with them once or twice in the past 40 years. Inside you can’t stand the sight of them but you still remain cordial at social events because conflict is embarrassing and no one wants to have to draw a line in the sod. That’s just bad manners. When all is said and done you can kvetch your little heart out. That’s what friends are for.

I may be rhapsodizing but friends and neighbors can be like family. Though there are extreme examples; look at the Hatfields and McCoys. Then again there are rivalries that have been going on since the dawn of statehood. Midwesterners can be cat-like in that regard. Just ignore what bugs you until they really get under your skin.

Here’s another example, because I enjoy romanticizing smalltown scenarios.

So-and-so may have acted the fool in the bar the other night and the bar proprietor may have told him he wasn’t welcome there anymore but he’ll still sell him an 18 pack when he comes in from the field, even though they still think he’s a no-good. Plus if he’s kicked out of the bar he’s damn close to being ostracized from society and no one needs that. Along with the population dropping beer sales are dropping. If you’re not welcome in your hometown bar you’ll have to frequent the watering hole the next town over and the whole town will hear their side of the story. Odds are the proprietor in that town probably thinks he’s a jerk too.

Barb may criticize your quilt color choices or imply that your hotdish is bland but what do you do...you can’t win ‘em all. Someone else will like it and whoever made her the hotdish queen in the first place? You’ll still have to work together at whatever event next Sunday so there’s no use making a fuss. Carol doesn’t care for her either so you’re not the only one. Just smile through clenched teeth and save the eye rolling for when her back is turned. But you can bet your boots you helped her out with the spaghetti dinner fundraiser when her husband got sick.

Maybe North Dakota Nice and passive aggression go hand in hand. Is passive aggression an act of tolerance that keeps people in check or is it a weird unhealthy phenomena that leads to uncomfortable outbursts at the most inconvenient of times? Is it the social evolution of circling your wagons and watching out for your own or is it just a matter of tolerating your neighbor rather than loving them? It’s cold in the great north and the closer you huddle the easier it is to maintain that warmth.

The farmer wave is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the acceptance and acknowledgement of sharing the open road. In inclement weather it helps you remember seeing your neighbor’s vehicle.

Being cordial never hurt anyone. Heck, it might even help you out of the ditch this winter.

Recently in:

FARGO – The National Weather Service has predicted widespread flooding from the Great Lakes to Devils Lake to the Red River of the North River Basin, saying the risk is elevated because of packed snow, deep frost, and…

By Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.com“North Dakota (and Minnesota) nice” is an attitude, a stereotype, and a way of life that has permeated our region, as well as perceptions of the Midwest, since as long as people have been…

March 19-23Fargo Theatre, 314 N Broadway, FargoThe Fargo Theatre will be opening daily at 9am during the Fargo Film Festival and will be screening 90+ submissions! Add director Q&As, 2 minute movie contest and extra special guests.…

It is possible, even ethical, to stand behind Israel and criticize the nation at the same time. No country, no man or woman, is without fault. While we at the High Plains Reader believe the U.S. House of Representatives’…

The Battle Between Extreme Capitalism And Democratic SocialismAfter Vice-President Mike Pence representing racial and extreme capitalism ended his scathing rant about democratic socialism at the Conservative Political Action…

The eighth week of this year’s HPR Cocktail Showdown was another tripleheader for our panel of judges. On this particular week, we found ourselves focused on a trio of downtown dining and entertainment establishments to visit…

In rural Minnesota, outside of Park Rapids, Amy Thielen was attempting to light her wood-fired oven. It is in her brand-new kitchen that she hopes to teach cooking classes out of, which is a far cry from what it was when she and…

The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra has had its fair share of guest performances headlining its concerts over the years. They all have impressive resumes, their fair share of awards, and worldwide recognition. However, bringing…

With the 19th annual Fargo Film Festival underway this week, film lovers and filmmakers are flocking to the Fargo Theatre to catch screenings. One local filmmaker, Steven Warkel, got to see the short film that he wrote and…

Though Harvey North Dakota based photographer Lew Ableidinger has switched from film photography to digital photography and back he couldn’t avoid the analog.“I returned to film because I wanted to start shooting large format,…

To many people unfamiliar with the wide range of the musical genre, the word ‘opera’ conjures up stereotypical images of people in period costumes and large women in Viking garb singing in foreign languages. The truth, however,…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

By Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comThink & Drink is coming to Fargo! Organized by Humanities North Dakota, Think & Drink is a happy hour series that hosts a facilitated public conversation about big issues and ideas. Lead by a…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

I’ve got a problem. I need to write a column that is going to be kind of critical of three people I like, and I’m trying to figure out how to do it without making them all angry at me. Their names are Sara, Doug and Marvin.…