In my continued effort to raise awareness of North Dakotans’ existence in other parts of the country, I realized there are many things that we just don’t see around here. Especially when traveling. If you find yourself around someone looking puzzled or behind a driver struggling with any of these things, chances are they’re Midwestern, maybe even North Dakotan.
Let’s not kid ourselves, this clip applies to North Dakotan drivers, for sure. I may be a good driver in my own domain (North Dakota) — I’ve never been in an accident or been pulled over for a traffic violation (although my car has been hit several times while it’s parked.) But I wouldn’t trust myself on a road with actual traffic. I won’t even drive in the suburbs of Minneapolis. In fact, I white-knuckle it the whole time I’m driving in Fargo, ND, too.
Toll Roads — I first came across a toll road when I was 19. I had heard of these mythical highways existing, but I was honestly a little skeptical that I’d ever come across one. I thought they were extremely rare and only enforced on super fancy highways. I also thought they sounded like a rip-off. (Living in ND also makes you frugal, since you’re not used to having to pay for things like this.) But the first time I visited my boyfriend’s hometown of Damascus, MD, I realized they’re a part of a lot of people’s daily lives. Making road trips to Bethany Beach, DE, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia (yeah, it was a whirlwind trip) I was introduced to not only toll roads, but the E-Z Passes people who frequently take them buy, allowing drivers to pass under the toll both and have the money zapped from the credit card associated with the little machine they keep in their car. I’m still admittedly a little fascinated by this, but I try to play it cool since I’ve been to the D.C. metro area three times now, and my amazement only further points out how sheltered I really am.
Paying to park– This is really similar to the toll roads, but it’s something I never encountered until coming to college at the University of North Dakota. Like toll roads, I wasn’t entirely sure parking meters really existed. I wonder how that would work as an excuse for not paying at the meter on campus at UND. Although I complain about that system of parking here, it’s nothing compared to parking in the east. (I’ve never been west, so forgive my constant comparisons to the east coast!) There, free parking seemed to come by once in a blue moon, while in North Dakota, it’s the other way around. We complain about $5 event parking to see a sporting event and try to find ways to weasel around the system.
Traffic Jams — I also saw my first traffic jam two years ago, at age 19. I even got to be in one once. I wanted to take pictures. Miles and miles of gridlocked traffic — It was a sight I’d never seen before! All that was running through my mind was, Wow! A real traffic jam! I’m in a big city!You can imagine the annoyance the native-East Coasters I was driving with felt toward my excitement.
Taxis – I still have never been inside a taxi … unless you count the ones in Grand Forks that UND students can ride for $3 a person. But I don’t, because they’re not yellow, or even a unified color for the whole fleet. They don’t have a ticker telling how much of a bill you’re racking up. They’re just normal cars or vans with the words “Taxi” printed on the side. I would do it just for the experience, but I feel like it needs to be done in New York City. I have at least seena yellow taxi now, though. I even have a picture:
The Subway – I did ride the Subway often in my short time in New York City. It was everything I could have dreamed of and more. The cars were packed, so sometimes we had to stand and hold on to the rails from the ceiling like the people on TV. It was roughly 110 degrees, so everyone was all sweaty and smelly. There were even homeless peopleplaying music for money — one guy whipped out a flute! I felt so urban. I would have gotten a picture of myself on the subway, but I didn’t want to appear to touristy. However, I did get one in the subway station, featured below. (Flattering, I know. I also don’t know what justifies that as any less touristy.)
The Metro — I’m a little more familiar with it, but that never takes the fun out of riding it. I can kind of figure out how to navigate the stops … well, the ones that sound familiar, that I’ve taken before. That’s good enough for me.
Moving sidewalks/Escalators — In all of western North Dakota, I think its safe to say there is one escalator. That’s in Medora, ND, and was installed primarily to facilitate the transportation of old people who attend the Medora Musical annually into and out of the amphitheater. (If you don’t know about the Medora Musical, you’re missing out. It’s apparently “North Dakota’s #1 destination,” but I’ll save my thoughts on that for another post.) So, anyway, escalators are cool, but they’re somewhat familiar to us. We don’t see moving sidewalks often. (The first one I saw was at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport when I was 18, going to Close Up in Washington, D.C., with members of my high school senior class. That was also my first time on an airplane. I hyperventilated a little, but ended up enjoying flying.) What I’m getting at with all this is that we generally don’t know the rules about the right side being for standing and the left side being for walking. I’ll talk more about this in the next listing.
Passing when Driving — I honestly forgot there are rules for this until a year or so ago. We never really encounter other cars on the highway in North Dakota, so it’s easy to forget. I faintly remembered reading something about rules for passing in ND’s driver education manual when I was 14 and studying to get my permit, but I must not have retained it. (I had my license at 14 and a half.) A lot of times, I would drive on the left side of the road on the highway just so I could think to myself, Hee hee. I’m in England. Nobody really minds here. People still do it all the time. But now that I know the rules about how you’re supposed to drive, I get annoyed with the people who do. So, if there’s ever some person driving in front of you at snail speed in the left lane, or someone who regularly passes on the right, before you curse them and whip out the bird, take a moment to consider if they could be from North Dakota. Our feelings get hurt easily when honked at or flipped off on the road.
That goes for pretty much everything on this list. We’re not trying to disrupt your travel or make your lift more difficult. We’re merely unaware. In North Dakota, we don’t often rush to get places and rarely resort to honking or yelling (unless someone makes an exceptionally ridiculous mistake). We’re North Dakota nice and take it personally when yelled at. We’re not idiots or socially inept or any other colorful language you can come up with. We’re just from North Dakota, and that should be explanation enough.
Is there anything you’ve noticed, as North Dakotans, that we don’t see around here? Or anything some tourist has done to get them yelled at in a big city?