Worth a Thousand Words: Turning your dial  to manual

Last week, one of my cousins and uncles stopped by for a quick visit as they headed up north to the family cabin. While originally living in Omaha, Nebraska, they have now spent a considerable number of years living in Arkansas. For this trip, they also had a friend of theirs, who admitted he had never been north of Missouri.

Naturally, part of the conversation turned to the differences between the two areas of the country. Of course, accents were brought up as my cousin claims he hasn’t picked up a southern accent (he has). The difference in driving was another typical topic that was discussed, along with how Dairy Queen was expanding down there, but wasn’t quite at the “a DQ in every town” status yet.

But the most noticeable, and easily most humorous, topic happened when we took them on a tour of mom and dad’s new house. When we reached the garage, we were just standing around doing a little small talk when we noticed their friend was curiously eying a certain machine.

“That’s a snowblower,” my cousin informed his friend.

“A what? I thought it was some sort of weird tiller or something, but I couldn’t figure out what that chute was for,” he responded.

So we had to describe about how in the winter, we can get so much snow we needed to remove it in a convenient way.

“Ah, man, we just wait a day and let it melt,” he commented. “You mean it sticks around for the whole winter?”

Being true Minnesotans, we had photos of last winter’s snow piles readily available as proof of what we were saying, but I’m not sure he completely believed them.

Anyway, we had a good laugh about it, and it provided us with a little ammunition for future mocking – later on it was mentioned how he should come up in something like April, to which I added “Yeah, and we can teach you how to use a snowblower.”

This exchange did provide a little bit of a superiority complex with us northerners. How in the world could anyone not recognize a snowblower? I’m sure people down south have at least seen video footage of snowstorms that featured people using a snowblower. But maybe casually seeing one on a TV screen is different than seeing one in person. 

And there was probably a little reference point to be considered. Here we are standing around wearing shorts on a warm, spring day. So why would someone expect to see a snowblower sitting in a garage this time of the year?

Either way, it also got me thinking that there are probably several things from down south that would throw (no pun intended) me off as well. After all, just like he’s never been this far north, I’ve never visited his neck of the woods either. And I do remember as a kid having a bit of a culture shock just going down to St. Louis, Missouri. 

I suppose this could serve as a reminder that we are all different, and those differences are what make this country great. But on the other hand, it can just be one of those moments we hang onto for a good laugh at someone else’s expense. 

I should really write a reminder to take a video of our first snowstorm of the year and send it to him with a message of “wish you were here.”

Bill Stickels III is editor of the Isanti-Chisago County Star. He can be reached at 763-689-1181 ext. 107 or editor@countystar.com. 

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