My first day in Minneapolis, Minnesota sent me into a complete culture shock. I'm talking about a total surge to the senses that left me in utter disbelief. When I landed in the airport, I went straight to the baggage carousel, grabbed my duffle bag, and went outside for some fresh air. I sat outside for twenty minute appreciating the clean air and people watching. This is where it first hit me; people were so kind to each other. I saw strangers stopping strangers to give out compliments or to ask for directions. Their entire conversations seemed nice: from language, facial expressions, down to body language. I couldn't believe it, so I decided to try it out myself.
I approached a woman who was standing outside people watching too. I first asked her if she was from Minneapolis, to which she said she was and then I asked her where I could get to the blue line (which I thought was cool that Minneapolis had a blue line too). She gave me a very detailed response about where I could locate it. I must have been in shock the whole time because after I walked away, I couldn't remember half of what she told me. Being an arrogant city slicker, I didn't want to ask for help again so I decided to just read and the follow the signs. That worked out great until I got down to the tram and realized it only goes back and forth two stops. I felt defeated so I got off the tram where I started and approached two airport workers who asked if I was checking my bag, I sheepishly replied, no and explained to them that I was really lost.
For whatever reason, I can't stand dumb tourists who can't help themselves, maybe it's my pride or "city kid" arrogance, but whatever it was, I felt like I needed to justify myself to this stranger. I explained to him that I read and followed the signs but I was clearly missing something because for the life of me, I could not find where to go. He said that the signs weren't that clear and if you weren't from here, that it was bound to happen. He told me that he will walk me himself to the train so he could catch his Pokemon eggs. Not receiving any attitude from someone who is probably asked the same questions one thousand times a day almost made me fall out of my metaphorical seat. I'm not used to this type of hospitality from strangers. I'm from Chicago where people don't care if you're lost.
During our long excursion to the blue line (it was on the opposite side of the airport), we talked about Pokemon Go and showed each other our Pokedecks (Yes, I love Pokemon and have no shame). Once we arrived at the train terminal, he told me what direction bound train that I needed to get on and which train to transfer to next. An older gentleman overheard the conversation and informed me that he's going the same direction and will make sure that I get off at the right stop. I know that I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but I honestly couldn't believe it. A stranger was going to take another stranger under their wing and make sure they get off at the right stop? Where is Rod Serling? Where is the music for the beginning part of the Twilight Zone? Is this real life? Why are people so nice? Should I be worried?
I was paying attention to the stops so I knew that my stop was next, but the older gentleman did in fact turn around and tell me that this is where I needed to go and reminded me that I needed to transfer to the green line going East. I thanked him once more, got off of the train, and walked across the platform to transfer. As I was waiting, a woman approached me and asked me if I was here for the Biology professors conference. I laughed and told her that I wasn't, I was in town for the Associated College Press conference and that I wish I was good in biology. She then asked me which school I was a professor at in which I replied that she was too kind for assuming that I was a professor and told her that I'm a college student.
Her and I chatted for a while during the wait for the train. It was nice and seemed to be pretty normal, but I still couldn't wrap my head around the fact that strangers just strike up conversation with other strangers. I got to my stop, got off, and started walking in the direction which I thought was the correct one. I walked for about five blocks with my heavy duffle bag but then drew a conclusion that I wasn't traveling in the appropriate direction so I quickly turned around and went the other way. I saw two police officers standing by the train, so I approached them, they asked me if I had my ticket so I said yes, I just got off the train but needed to retrace my steps. I showed them the ticket and they asked me if I just flew in and asked me where I was from. I said yes, I'm from Chicago, but I'm lost and needed to be pointed in the right direction. Once more, I received kindness and was pointed in the right direction.
Fast forwarding to thirty minutes later, I stopped in a small coffee shop with all of my stuff. It was a cute coffee shop where everything was organic and fair trade (yay fair trade!). I ordered my drink and as the barista was making it, she asked, "You're not from here, are you?" I replied, "No, I'm not. How could you tell?" Apparently, the way I dress isn't how most people dress around here. All I was wearing was a black button men's shirt with white pineapples on it, black high waisted shorts, and a pair of black chucks. She then told me that if I wanted to go out to any bars that I would probably want to leave the university town area because it's all jocks and by the looks of me, wouldn't be my scene.
Under no circumstances is being in a bar with jocks pounding beers "my kind of scene", I prefer bars with 312 on tap or in a bottle (It is my favorite beer but I will settle for local draft beers or a gin and tonic), but how did she draw that conclusion by what I was wearing? Is it my pixie haircut? Was it my pineapple shirt? I guess I'll never know. I should have asked. So, I paid for my coffee (and tipped her, obviously), thanked her for the heads up, grabbed my coffee, and went to go check-in to where I was staying. After I dropped my stuff off, I spent the next five hours walking around Minneapolis playing Pokemon Go. It was awesome, I caught a lot of rare Pokemon and was able to evolve some of the ones that I already had. I'm probably going to be the first one to catch them all. I'm dedicated and in it to win it.
Until I started walking around town, I never, ever, ever, ever, ever in one million years, realized how flat Chicago actually is. There are so many hills in Minneapolis that my calves were on actual fire. I am not used to this kind of incline. There are also places in parts of the campus town where there is a plethora of stairs that you have to climb just to get to the main road. All of this time, I never thought that I was THAT out of shape. I only thought I was a little out of shape. Well, it was a rude awakening for me. The days where I could run up numerous flights of stairs, run for miles, and leg press 550 pounds, thanks to cheerleading conditioning, were long gone and apparently ancient history.
This town is beautiful and the people are nice, so maybe I'm the strange one? I still have four more days, we'll see what happens.