I’m from Kansas City, Missouri (just a few blocks from the Kansas state line, but we Kansas Citians care a lot about the distinction), and a few days ago, I had dinner in New York with one of my best friends from high school, who now lives in Brooklyn. We were talking about Kansas City, and she told me that she’d decided that Midwesterners really were more friendly and enthusiastic than people on the East Coast.
It’s true, people in the Midwest seem less hurried. Clerks in stores are more chatty and helpful. Drivers don’t even turn into an intersection if a pedestrian is crossing (in NYC, they practically edge you out of the way with their bumpers). Certainly the people in Kansas City move more slowly than I’m used to. In fact, New York has the fastest pedestrians in the country. This unhurried atmosphere means that people take a few minutes to chat — while standing in line, while making a purchase, etc., — and that makes interactions with strangers seem warmer. Of course, speed that’s “not hurried” could also be considered “slow.” When I’m in a hurry, this slower pace can be slightly irritating. But overall, it’s nicer.
Nevertheless I’m not sure that people are really more friendly. I’ve heard people say that while Midwesterners may be friendlier in the daily intercourse of life, they aren’t as open to new friends as people are in New York City, where so many people are coming from someplace else. There’s a kind of sidewalk friendliness peculiar to New York, too. Odd things happen, and you’re always around lots of other people, many of whom have hilarious commentary to offer.
What do you think? Are Midwesterners — or West Coast folks — or people from any particular region — unusually friendly? Or not?
The days are long, but the years are short.