Minnesotan as a Second Language

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm pretty into language, and I'm obviously into New York, and I live in Minnesota, and . . .

Well, for a million reasons -- not the least of which is that it actually come close to fitting in with the alleged theme of this blog -- I have decided to compile a list of differences between everyday interactions, here in Minnesota, and back in the tri-state area. (That means New York City and its suburbs in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.) For our first installment, we will visit the most popular coffee shops in each area: Caribou and Starbucks.

In Minnesota, the Caribou cashier will greet you, and actually smile and listen to your reply to "How are you doing today?"

In New York, the Starbucks cashier might make eye contact when she asks what you want: "Can I help you?" If she says "How are you?" it just means "What do you want?", and if you reply and ask how she is doing, you will get a vacant stare in response.

In Minnesota, the cashier will then ask you if "you need anything else today?" She might tell you how nice/cold/rainy/hot out it is, and that the football game will be on later, and perhaps you plan to watch?

In New York, the cashier will, while writing on your cup, say, "That it?"

In Minnesota, after you pay, the cashier will ask if "you need a receipt at all?" ("At all?" What does that mean, anyway? Am I supposed to say, "I need it just a tiny bit"?) She will suggest you have a great rest of the day, and perhaps stay cool/dry/warm/inside/outside.

In New York, the cashier will put the receipt in your hand with your change in such a way that the change will fall from your hand and roll off the counter. She will say "sorry" and turn to the next customer while you try to get the coins that are rolling around the store.

In Minnesota, after you take your change, no one will make a move to order until you've put everything in its proper wallet or pocket or zippered bag compartment and moved completely out of the way. While they wait, they will smile and look at you. It will make you nervous.

In New York, the moment you have your change (or are scrambling for it all over the shop), the next person will start right in, often before being asked, leaning across and in front of you if necessary: "Yeah, lemme get a double nonfat latte in two cups . . ." It will make you nervous.