The other day, I went all the way downtown to the mall, which I never do, because I was desperate to see what H&M had on the racks after seeing some ads in a recent magazine. AKA moment of weakness. Plus, I REALLY needed to get kiddo out of the house.
But, on my way through, on a very painfully slow Tuesday morning at the mall, one of the kiosk guys got me. Because, his “gotcha” question was: where are you from?
On my long 3 block walk from the bus stop to the mall, I passed swarms SWARMS of tourists (and, disclaimer, I love ya, I really do, keep coming to SF, but please don’t stop dead in your tracks in the middle of the sidewalk to take a picture of a big, dirty building or to plan your route to the ATM) and I was done. Just done. I was so smug. I have lived here for a while now, I am a local, bitches.
So, when he asked where I was from, I was thinking, uh, I am from here, unlike the many tourists I’m sure you sucker in to your booth every day. But, I made the mistake of answering him. And getting into a whole thing about how I was originally from Wisconsin, him from Chicago. And so on and so forth.
And even when I knew I was knee deep in shit and he only cared about selling me something, I just could not leave. Because I have the Midwest Nice. I’ve been stating for years how Midwest Nice is just a myth. Doesn’t exist. They are just as rude a population as anyone else. Yet, something was holding me there, paralyzed with niceness. I blabbed on about how I could not possibly stop today (he was offering a teeth whitening procedure that would involve me staying there for a half hour or so), what with the kiddo and all. And I was on a budget (which is completely true). I threw it all at him. But, I couldn’t find myself just saying, no thanks and walking on, like I normally do. When I’m with my husband, and when there’s ample crowd for them to pick from.
I felt so bad for this guy. I knew he had to pull out all the stops because the coworker who was eavesdropping was likely his manager, and he worked on commission, and after all, I had stopped in the first place. It was ridiculous. I knew and he knew that I was not going to buy anything, but he kept giving the pitch and I kept being so…nice. Just nice. There is not another word for it.
My 8th grade English teacher told us “nice” used to mean “stupid”. Well, I think I fit the original definition that day.