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rock customers from Hell

There is a cultural difference between northeastern and northwestern Minnesota.  Since it’s not consistent, some may deny it exists.  I am referring to regions known informally as the valley and the range.  My maternal grandmother was from the Red River valley and I understand that mentality better.


I have observed that people in charge of something…parking, what door to enter, etc….out by the river will tell you when you are breaking the rules,  with discomfort and reluctance, and sometimes they will just let it go.  People on the range are quite comfortable with enforcing rules.  They can be quite vociferous about it, even when it’s not a matter under their direct jurisdiction.


I remember going to a family reunion with my parents (both gone now) and we stopped into a cafe in Ada, Minnesota.  My dad was worried because it was Sunday and no gas stations were open.  We were almost out of gas.  Somebody said there was a station open in Twin Valley if we could get there before it closed.  A man in the cafe said, with a slight Norwegian accent, “You can always go out in the parking lot and siphon a little”.  It was a joke.  Both he and my dad understood that.  You might not want to say that in an eastern Minnesota town.  There might be someone at the next table who overhears the conversation and reports you for stealing gas.  They believe in law and order.


My brother was driving around an iron range town on a Sunday afternoon.  Nobody was on the streets.  The whole town was at the park for an arts festival.  He happened to go a couple of blocks in the wrong direction on a one way street.  An old lady outside her house screamed frantically, “You’re going the wrong way!”


It has been a couple of days since I had the rock customers from Hell at my place.  The man was drunk and he and his wife were crazy and unreasonable, and not very good examples of anything except drunk and crazy.  But I did detect a tinge of eastern Minnesota in their behavior.  I’ve run into it before.  Usually the people come to their senses and we part with a handshake and a semblance of friendship.


The man said I was guilty of false advertising because my website showed items I didn’t have in my shop.  Actually, I did have the items or reasonable facsimiles…tucked here and there in boxes and corners in various buildings on the property.  When people treat me right, I invite them in the house, offer a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and search for an item that might please them.  Sometimes I come up with something even better than they anticipated.  I’ve shown people how to saw rocks, or grind them.  i send people out to my shop to serve themselves.  Sometimes I find money on the counter and I don’t know where it came from.


In case those people are reading this, I’d like them to know that even big box stores have different merchandise on their website.  The local community center bought  pro basketball equipment from Walmart.  It had to be ordered.  It wasn’t available in the store.  And it’s silly to accuse a small, struggling, micro mini hole-in-the-wall business of false advertising.  You save that for a car manufacturer or a pharmaceutical company, some big outfit with a CEO who makes a zillion dollars a year.  


Most people from eastern or western Minnesota are fine folks.  They just have, in some instances, different ways.  In my years doing craft fairs, I sold a total of two items to obviously intoxicated customers.  Both were items that said “velkommen” on them, Norwegian for welcome.  Both customers were friendly drunks.


Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 9:24 AM CDT
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