In addition to being a Midwesterner, I have a huge affinity for it. You know, the area of the States that’s sometimes dubbed “flyover country” or worse yet, the nation’s “armpit”? I love it.
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri (to name a handful), yes please.
Overall, Midwesterners are down to earth, hardworking, and above all else, friendly. Am I generalizing? Absolutely. Do I care? No.
I’m particularly reminded of my Midwestern love while traveling, when its absence is glaring.
Like earlier this week, for instance, when I visited a CrossFit box. If you follow me on social media, you’ve seen me post about CrossFit. Here’s the short version: I’ve been doing it for six years, I love it, and I sometimes do it while traveling.
On this trip, the first CrossFit location I sought out is one I visited four years previously while pregnant.
I got on their website for class times, and as usual, saw they recommend newcomers arrive a little early to complete a waiver. No problem.
According to Google Maps’ eta, I left with time to spare. Due to thicker-than-usual traffic and being sent a couple blocks out of the way, I arrived at 9am on the nose instead of early.
When I walked in, warm-ups had already begun. I told the guy behind the counter I was visiting. He didn’t greet me, make eye contact with me, or offer any form of welcome.
We’re not in Kansas anymore.
“You’re supposed to arrive early so you have time to fill out a waiver,” he says to me gruffly. “My frustration isn’t just with you but with our members.”
Those were his first words spoken to me.
We’re not in Kansas anymore, and we’re nowhere near it.
Duder left me with the laptop to go stand by his members. I filled out the electronic, five-tabbed, over twenty question form, shoved my purse and water bottle in a cubby, and joined the warm-up.
“Did you pay?!” duder yells at me across the room before marching to the laptop.
“You’ve seen what I’ve done,” I respond. “No I haven’t paid.”
“Did you complete the waiver?!”
“Yes. I filled it out, signed, and hit submit.”
“Well it’s not here. You’re going to have to do it again.”
We’re not in Kansas. We’re nowhere near it, and this guy has surely never visited its plains.
“Forget it,” I said, gathered my things, and left.
Get a grip man. This is CrossFit. It’s not life and death. It’s not a courtroom. It’s not the military. Set your strictness aside to help the newbie.
Walk away from your members, who can most certainly handle the warmup, to troubleshoot technology and collect payment. Don’t make demands and then do nothing to see them through.
That boy needs loaded up on a plane for the heartland to learn a thing or two about decency.
Later that afternoon, I stopped by the grocery store. While in the bakery, women lined up to the right. I was looking for items in a case to the left. I found what I wanted and stayed there waiting my turn.
One of the workers behind the counter told me he’d be with me next. Consequently, two of the gals in line got huffy with me. They thought I was (gasp!) cutting the line. Those two became crustier than their to-be-purchased bread loaves.
Good grief people. Book them on a flight with duder. Show them how to function in a grocery store.
You wanna know how folks function back home? Reasonably.
When multiple people are in the deli or bakery section? The worker asks who’s next and the respective person pipes up.
Headed for the checkout at the same time as someone else? The person with fewer groceries often goes first. Sometimes, if you’re approaching the checkout alongside an agenda free retiree, they’ll let you go first even if you have quadruple their purchases.
Midwestern friendliness equates to one thing: We look out for one another, acquaintances and strangers alike.
It means helping out the new person and having some patience. It means saying, “I was next, but you go on ahead.” (And if you’re the person who’s offered a place in line, it means saying “thank you”.)
Or, at the very least, attempt a little Midwestern friendliness.
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