Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It's impossible to say 'Regional idiom' without sounding pretentious

Ironically, it's also difficult to say 'pretentious' without sounding pretentious, so at some point you just have to suck it up and own it.

Which brings me to Minneapolis.

Well, to a discussion of Minneapolis, that is.  I don't need to be brought to Minneapolis physically, since I've lived in its suburbs for my whole life.  Which is why I feel qualified to identify a disturbing trend in its 'regional idiom'.

Now, I don't actually know if this is just a Minnesota thing or if it's the whole Midwest, or - God help us - the planet.  Perhaps some of you out there can report back.  But the thing is - almost nobody says 'you're welcome' anymore. (and less than 1% of people use the correct form of 'you're' when they write it down, but that's another battle for another day)

Plenty of people say 'Thank You', or at least they do around these parts, but at this point in history the standard 'You're welcome' has been replaced by some variety of 'No problem'.  It's like we're ashamed, on some level of the gratitude and feel the need to deflect it.  'Oh, you don't have to thank me,' you're saying, 'I haven't put out any significant effort.  Let's all just pretend that that never happened'

I cordially dislike it (even though I'm as guilty of doing it as anyone) because it disrespects the gesture of appreciation.  And let's be honest - there are enough people already out there not bothering to thank anyone for anything.  We don't need to be working to discourage others.

On one level I suspect it's the same Midwest regional protestant humility (trademark pending) that requires one to immediately deflect all compliments by immediately responding to them by saying something self effacing to avoid any appearance of feeling good about yourself.

'Hey there, that haircut looks really good.'
'Oh, it's nothing.  Besides, I'm fat and bad at math.'*

*Seriously, this is not as much of an exaggeration as you might think.  Trying to give a Midwestern Lutheran a compliment is like trying to nail water to the wall.

Another fun thing that Midwestern people do, and that I suspect is part of the same issue - it is absolutely forbidden to ever eat the last of anything.  Because people might think you're greedy, or gluttonous, or from a coastal city.  If there is own brownie left on the plate, that brownie will remain on the plate.  Eventually someone might cut it in half so that they're still leaving something behind, but that's as far as it will go.

So I'm making a movement.  Starting a movement.  Creating a movement.  WHichever of those is the correct thing to do to make a movement happen*.  Let's all make an effort to start saying 'Thank You' again.  It's OK, I promise no one will think you're conceited because of it.

*Another good way is a lot of fiber and warm water**

**I'm sorry, I really tried to resist that...

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