Midwestern Sensibilities

There’s an old saying, “You can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the girl.”  I have proven this time and again throughout my life.

The first time I attended a writer’s conference, I was nervous; very nervous.  The best advice I received was from my best friend who admonished me, “Don’t clutch your purse to your chest in that Midwest ‘I’m afraid I’m going to get mugged’ sort of way.”

I imagined all the other women would be polished and poised in their expensive business suits.  As a stay-at-home, mother of five, who views cornfields from every single window in her house, I didn’t see much reason to buy a business suit.  Instead, I wore capris with a blouse that I bought at Fashion Bug.  With a coupon.  And sandals that I bought at Kohl’s Department store.  With a coupon.

Coupons are a way of life in the Midwest.  Just yesterday, I handed my teenage son a wad of restaurant coupons so he could save money taking his girlfriend to dinner.  We clip them, exchange them, and the most thoughtful of us leave our extras on grocery store shelves so that someone else can take advantage of them.

Midwesterners are extremely thoughtful people.  I am a frequent flyer, and I always say there is a different atmosphere when I get on the final flight toward home. Rarely does anyone travel to the Midwest as a vacation destination, so nearly everyone on the plane is homeward bound.  They are friendly, jovial, interact with my kids, and help get our luggage into the overhead bins.  On our most recent flight, my two young children were bumped to first class.  I was trying to figure out the best way to handle being separated from them, when a nice Midwestern gentleman offered to take my economy seat so that I could sit in first.  I am telling you, that would never in a million years happen on a flight to New York or Los Angeles.

Speaking of Los Angeles, two weeks ago I was there for the first time.  When I picked up the rental car, I asked for a GPS.  The guy convinced me that, for only a few dollars more, I could rent a luxury car with that built-in option.  I decided to go for it, figuring three days with a luxury vehicle would be, well, rather luxurious!

We spent the first five minutes trying to fit our luggage into the not-so-luxurious trunk.  With one suitcase sticking up in the backseat, the next order of business was to put the key into the ignition.  But I was only given a key fob for the doors.  I was getting ready to ask for the key when daughter’s friend said, “Wait! I think you just push that button!”

Sure enough, instead of a keyhole, there was an ignition button!  I pushed it, and then pushed it again.  After the second push, I realized I might have started the car, and then shut it down.  So, I pushed the button a third time and leaned forward trying to hear the sound of a motor.  There was nothing.  I couldn’t decide if the engine wasn’t running, or if perhaps luxury vehicles simply do not make noise.

Daughter pointed out that there was warm air coming from the vents.  We fiddled around for another five minutes trying to figure out the A/C , but continued sweltering against the leather seats.

I said, “Maybe once we get going, it will kick in and start feeling cool.”  I reached for the gear shift, but it was a tiny little, non-gratifying handle with a button on one side.  I pushed it and it promptly popped back into place.  I pulled it, and again, it resumed its original position.  I gently tested the accelerator, but nothing happened.

Frustrated, I went back into the rental office and tossed the keyless key ring onto the desk.  “I’m sorry, but this luxury vehicle isn’t going to work for me.  Do you have something in a Ford?”

A few minutes later, we had all of the luggage stowed in the back of a Ford SUV, and were happily rolling through the streets of Hollywood.  Our rented GPS was weighted with a sandbag, and continually recalculated.  I was 100% comfortable in that environment because, you can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the girl!

About Ginger Truitt

Ginger is an author, speaker, and mother of five. Her award-winning newspaper column appears weekly across the Midwest. Recently, she was also published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parenthood.

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