I love you, I do. Unfortunately, I’m also deeply introverted and not great at interacting with others in public.
While I’m grateful for the politeness of my region, it does lead to problematic situations that I’m sure would happen less if I lived on a coastline.
Back me up here, my anti-social brethren. These are five times it sucks to be an awkward, awkward human being in Wisconsin.
1. The Three Second Conversation
If you’ve spent any amount of time in the Midwest, you’ve had the “Three Second Conversation” with someone on the street. Even if you didn’t know them!
It goes a little something like this:
Person 1: Good morning!
Person 2: Good morning to you!
Person 1: How’s it going?
Person 2: Pretty good, you?
Person 1: It’s going great.
I know what you’re thinking. That sounds pleasant! What’s wrong with that?
Well, this whole exchange takes place in a three second period where neither participant slows down or changes their course. It’s impossible to make this either meaningful or graceful, especially if you throw in the weather or how your family is doing.
Three seconds is not enough, I tell you!
2. Navigating Corners/Doors with Others
This may keep happening to me because I spend 84 percent of my time not paying attention to where I’m going, but I know I’m not alone.
It’s like having a mirror image. I’ll either open a door to find someone already coming through on the other side or round a corner and almost suffer a head-on, walking collision.
When this happens, there’s a set of expected protocol. We both have to smile, laugh at the awkwardness, and offer to let the other person go first.
I know it’s better than living in a big city where you just knock everyone down, but there must be a more efficient way to negotiate this.
If someone creates standardized rules for pedestrian traffic, you’ll be my personal hero. Go for it!
3. During a Bad Sunburn
Being a particularly fair-skinned Northerner, I live in a state of perpetual redness.
When this happens, everyone everywhere feels the need to inform me, forcing me to add an addendum to the three second conversation from earlier.
Not Me: You’re sunburned.
Me: I know.
Not Me: I mean you’re really, really sunburned. Doesn’t that hurt?
Not Me: You should put some aloe on it.
Okay, I’ll cop to doing this too. It’s one of those things. You know that they know and they know that you know, but you still have to say the thing that you know they know you know.
4. Minding the Fifteen Feet of Friendly Space
As with numbers 1 and 2, this happens when people pass one another. It’s not enough to just say hi, you have to make eye contact and smile well before you even reach them.
I’m sure this makes me sound like a Howard Hughes style shut-in, but it’s complicated! You have to spend a good minute or two just trying to make eye contact and hoping they do the same.
If this happens with someone not native to the Midwest, disaster! You’ve just flagged yourself as a potential stalker and/or crazy person.
5. When You’re in a Bad Mood
Some days, I am not a happy camper.
Either it’s That Time of the Month (you know, when I’m on a “Hunt for Red October”) or maybe everything is just terrible. It happens.
All I want is to stew in my own misery and glare at people holding hands. (Why must they flaunt their love/friendship?)
On those days, without fail, some kindly stranger tries to cheer me up or do something nice for me. It’s so obnoxious.
Oh yeah, and sweet. So, so, very, very sweet.
I guess the point of this whole letter is just to say that I’m sorry I’m so grumpy all the time. I love you Wisconsin. Don’t ever change.
An Anti-Social Wisconsinite