Nebraska: The Good Life

As I mentioned previously, my conversations with my friend from Chicagoland seem to provide plentiful inspiration for blogging. Today, her question was “Why are Nebraskans so friendly?” Not that this behavior is bad, obviously, but it begged the question; why are we so friendly?

I’ve lived in Nebraska my whole life. Various places in Nebraska, actually. We were slightly nomadic, so to speak. I also spent a few years in Texas, which we jokingly refer to as our “40 years in the desert”. When we moved back to the Nebraska Panhandle, we insisted that Dad stop at the border and my brothers and I promptly rolled around in the grass under the “Welcome to the Good Life” sign. It brought tears to my eyes.

My mom and I at a
November Husker game.
Carhartt coveralls and coats
 are a Nebraskan's Best Friend!
I’ve lived in Lincoln for the past 3 years (off and on) while I’ve been going to school at UNL. UNL contains two campuses, referred to as “East” and “City”. Originally, East Campus existed outside of the city limits, and was the “farm” campus where research was done on the agriculture plots where. Now, the city has grown up around them, and essentially, there is a tiny country town surrounded by a cornfield, in the middle of the janky part of Lincoln.
My point being – I would have been one miserable camper the last few years if not for the caliber of characters that exist on East Campus. It’s such a typically friendly Nebraska town, with an array of boot-wearing, camo sporting, truck driving, hard-working kids who grew up riding on the buddy seat of their Dad’s tractor, bottle feeding calves and participating in 4-H.
My oldest brother and I
showing our Husker Pride

Lincoln is the home of the Cornhuskers – the beef-fed, homegrown football
team, known for the best fans in college football. Sports rivalries can get pretty hearted, but rather than flinging insults and being derogatory, Husker fans are known for their welcoming, courteous treatment of their visiting teams. I’ve witnessed rival fans walk into a bar filled with scarlet and cream, only to have the band play their fight song (the rivals’, not the Huskers).

Maybe it has something to do with the caliber of people that live here. Aside from the bigger cities (Lincoln and Omaha), most of the inhabitants of Nebraska are involved in some kind of production agriculture. It’s a tough job, trying to work with Mother Nature and make a living off the land. Perhaps the kind of people that choose to live that life have an inherent integrity, compassion and sense of community. It would make sense.

Two extremely vicious tornadoes ripped through Pilger, Nebraska last week. As soon as the storm cleared, folks from neighboring towns lined up with supplies and helping hands to rebuild what was lost. Suffice it to say, that level of kindness and caring is what allows those small rural communities to not only survive, but thrive.

I’ve experienced many levels of Nebraskan kindness over my lifetime: one of my older blog posts (Back to the Farm) was one good example. Another good example was the time I was traveling down highway two and stopped at a gas station in Thedford, Nebraska. Due to my absentmindedness, I managed to lock my keys in my car – in front of the gas pump. Embarrassed, I went inside and asked the lady behind the counter, “Do you have a phonebook? Or know of a locksmith I can call?” She laughed (sympathetically) and replied, “Oh honey, it’s Thedford. We don’t have a locksmith. What’d ya do, lock your keys in your car?” I nodded and she called over her shoulder to some guy in the back. “He’ll be right out.” She said.
He rounded the corner, holding one of those inflatable wedges and a piece of number 9 wire fashioned into a hook. “Where’r ya parked?” He asked.
It took him like, 5 seconds to break into my car. “Oh God, thank you. What do I owe you?” I asked, grateful I’d been able to avoid having someone bring me my extra set of keys or something (Thedford is a long ways from anywhere).
He just laughed. “Oh honey, people do this all the time. Don’t worry about it.”

One time my mom high-centered the minivan in a snowdrift on the feedground leading out of the ranch to the blacktop. The neighbor happened by and pulled us out with his tractor. We still tease her about it, even though high-centering that Baja minivan was the only way to get it stuck. I know she’s just thankful our neighbor could pull us out – hiking back through the snow with four small children… not fun.

So yeah, Nebraskans are the friendliest people I know. Why? Who knows? All I know is that friendliness breeds friendliness (for the most part), so when you move to Nebraska, you can’t help but reciprocate!  
Peace out, Nebraskans!

No comments:

Post a Comment