A Minnesota motto: Stuff it and seetheby Peter Smith, Minnesota Public Radio
There was this item in the police report in the newspaper recently. Some guy called 9-1-1. He'd been mowing his lawn before nine on Saturday morning and his neighbor allegedly threatened him.
Mowing your lawn before nine on Saturday does seem obsessive. Relax. It's Saturday. Have another cup of coffee. Let the neighbors wake up. The grass will still need mowing at ten.
Heck. Around our house, it'll still need mowing next Tuesday.
But threatening your neighbor to the point where he calls the police seems even weirder than that. Something else must have led up to it. The whole incident has that "last straw" feel to it.
What do you suppose the original beef was? The wrong political lawn sign? Noisy power tools? An incontinent dog? A noisy party on the back deck?
Traditionally, we Minnesotans stuff it and seethe. That should be the slogan on our license plates: "Minnesota: Stuff It and Seethe."
But while we've stoically suffered rude neighbors and inconveniences in the past, we seem to be changing -- becoming more brusque, less patient, a little more crowded and "in your face."
There are simply more of us to begin with. There are more lines to stand in. There's less space. The stoplights take longer to cycle.
And in an effort to save corporate cash, there are fewer open cash registers at the store -- and fewer open lanes at the drive through. We wait longer. We stuff it more. We seethe more.
Sooner or later, something happens. Somebody pulls out in front of us, or runs fifty items through the 15-items-or-less line, or starts mowing at the crack of dawn, and we just snap.
The paper didn't say how the police reacted when they arrived on the scene. I assume they had a soothing effect. Nothing calms the irate, testosterone-addled suburbanite psyche quite like the prospect of spending the weekend in jail.
But there is a moral for the rest of us in the story: Stuff it and seethe.
This isn't Chicago. This isn't Manhattan. No matter how big and busy Minnesota gets, stuff it and seethe.
That said, it's Tuesday morning. It's almost nine. And I've got a lawn to mow.
- Morning Edition, 07/14/2009, 7:45 a.m.
Peter Smith lives in Hopkins, Minn.