February 16, 2009

In which of the states is it easiest to talk to strangers?

I haven't traveled to all the states, but I've been to most of them. And while there is a lot of variety among people in different places, you can tell that there is something of a local personality. You may not notice it when you live there, but it really stands out when you travel through. For example, a few years ago, I traveled back to Wilmington, Delaware, where I grew up (and my father grew up). I was struck by how taciturn the people were. I wanted to strike up conversations. I grew up here! I ate in this restaurant in the 1950s! But I couldn't get a response from anyone. Crazy lady from out of town thinks she can talk to me. At least it helped me understand my father better.

But what's the best state if you want to travel through and have some nice, random conversations with strangers — where they won't just be polite and pretend they like you because that's the right way to act or because they want your business, but where they truly openly and easily just go right ahead and roll right into a conversation about any number of things, not boring you with their life story or problems or anything like that, but laughing at your little observations and offering up little morsels of things they happen to know? I'm going to say: Indiana!

ADDED: All this talk of Indiana made me want to dig out this passage from Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle":
Crosby asked me what my name was and what my business was. I told him, and his wife Hazel recognized my name as an Indiana name. She was from Indiana, too.

"My God," she said, "are you a Hoosier?"

I admitted I was.

"I'm a Hoosier, too," she crowed. "Nobody has to be ashamed of being a Hoosier."

"I'm not," I said. "I never knew anybody who was."

"Hoosiers do all right. Lowe and I've been around the world twice, and everywhere we went we found Hoosiers in charge of everything.

"That's reassuring."

"You know the manager of that new hotel in Istanbul?"

"No."

"He's a Hoosier. And the military-whatever-he-is in Tokyo . . ."

"Attaché," said her husband.

"He's a Hoosier," said Hazel. "And the new Ambassador to Yugoslavia . . . "

"A Hoosier?" I asked.

"Not only him, but the Hollywood Editor of Life magazine, too, And that man in Chile . . ."

"A Hoosier, too?"

"You can't go anywhere a Hoosier hasn't made his mark," she said.

"The man who wrote Ben Hur was a Hoosier."

"And James Whitcomb Riley."

"Are you from Indiana, too?" I asked her husband.

"Nope. I'm a Prairie Stater. 'Land of Lincoln,' as they say."

"As far as that goes," said Hazel triumphantly, "Lincoln was a Hoosier, too. He grew up in Spencer County."

"Sure," I said.

"I don't know what it is about Hoosiers," said Hazel, "but they've sure got something. If somebody was to make a list, they'd be amazed."

"That's true," I said.

She grasped me firmly by the arm. "We Hoosiers got to stick together."

"Right"

"You call me 'Mom."'

"What?"

"Whenever I meet a young Hoosier, I tell them, 'You call me Mom."'

"Uh huh."

"Let me hear you say it," she urged.

"Mom?"

She smiled and let go of my arm. Some piece of clockwork had completed its cycle. My calling Hazel "Mom" had shut it off, and now Hazel was rewinding it for the next Hoosier to come along.

Hazel's obsession with Hoosiers around the world was a textbook example of a false karass, of a seeming team that was meaningless in terms of the ways God gets things done, a textbook example of what Bokonon calls a granfalloon. Other examples of granfalloons are the Communist party, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the General Electric Company, the International Order of Odd Fellows--and any nation, anytime, anywhere.

As Bokonon invites us to sing along with him:
If you wish to study a granfalloon,
Just remove the skin of a toy balloon.

IN THE COMMENTS: EDH says:
I'm from Massachusetts, and if you ask me, the people around here are too god damn friendly.

So, I don't know where all these bastids get the silly idea that people from Massachusetts aren't friendly.

What the fuck are you look'n at?

(A dramatization.)

108 comments:

Matt said...

I moved to Fayetteville, AR about ten years ago for work, and I swear to god you can't get people to stop striking up conversations.

Jeff Angelo said...

Apologies in advance for recommending my home state: Iowa.

A few years back, I walked up to an elevator. A man had pushed the "up" button prior to my arrival and now was waiting patiently. I smiled at him and said, "hello!"

The man looked back at me appreciatively and responded, "Ah, it's great to be back in Iowa."

I looked somewhat puzzled.

He explained: "I travel around the country but only in Iowa do people greet you when they arrive at, or step into, the elevator."

Elevator, street corner, coffee shop--it doesn't matter. If you'd like to start a conversation, an Iowan is ready and eager to talk.

Suggestion: the weather is a great starter.

Robert Talbert said...

It's that Hoosier hospitality. I moved to Indiana from Tennessee in 1997, and although I love TN and was glad to grow up there, the people in Indiana tend to have all the good, down-to-earth personal traits that most Southerners have, without the antebellum pretentiousness that unfortunately too many Southerners also have. Sort of like being in the south without being in THE SOUTH.

Kevin said...

Texas is a pretty friendly state.

Freeman Hunt said...

Fayetteville, AR

Ha! I was going to name the same place!

Only downside: The checker and the customer in front of you in the grocery store will often start talking while you are waiting in line. People deep in conversation check groceries more slowly. It can be aggravating.

SteveR said...
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TRO said...

Anywhere down South is friendly. Easy conversations abound.

SteveR said...

I don't disagree about Indiana but please don't judge Texas by Austin.

David said...

South Carolina: They will talk to you, even if you are a Yankee, but you may have trouble figuring out what some of them are saying.

I've been in every state but two (Alaska and North Dakota still to go) and I chat up strangers whereever I go. I find it's local within the state: the more uniformly affluent the area, the less likely you are to get a good chat.

Come to think of it, that might explain South Carolina. Except behind the gates of a few developments, nothing is uniformly affluent down here.

Observation: now that I'm older, it's easier to chat up women, especially younger ones. If you are clearly not a prospect, they are more relaxed.

TerriW said...

The friendliness of Texans blew me away the first time I traveled there.

On the other hand, I had just been living in Silicon Valley (and before that, San Francisco, and before *that,* Seattle), so it may just have been the contrast.

(I remember looking agog at my husband in the first Texan restaurant we went to because the server didn't obviously hate us, like they all do in California.)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Terri beat me to it. Texas by far. Amarillo.

Basically most States in the west and in the country areas. Urbanites have been infected with 'big city suspicion of strangers'. In Oregeon they call it Californicated.

dreams said...

Luisville, KY is a friendly town.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

*Oregon*...too early....not enough coffee.

dreams said...

Louisville, KY

EDH said...

In which of the states is it easiest to talk to strangers?

Easy answer. Schizophrenic.

Even if nobody's there.

al said...

I've been in 32 states so far and I've found that the farther you are from a major city the friendlier people are. Tennessee is probably the exception to that rule as people in Nashville are incredibly easy to talk to and real hard to shut up. Southern states tend to be more friendly but I've got in some great conversations all over the country. Talking to people is one of the best reasons to drive rather than fly. You never know who you'll meet or what you might learn.

OTOH if in a large city and you find another traveler it's easy to get talking. Usually about how hard it is to talk to the locals.

Ed said...

We in Connecticut might be good at talking to strangers, there's no record of it ever having been tried!

Buford Gooch said...

David, so, you've been to 55 states?

Buford Gooch said...

And, if you get south of I-80, Illinois is about like Iowa or Indiana in friendliness. Chicago and environs, not so much.

traditionalguy said...

Indiana south of NapTown wins the open and friendly award. But you will also enjoy convivial people in Texas (from Austin north) and in Eastern Washington. The neighborly culture of caring about everyone seems to have survived best in these prosperous agricultural/ranching areas. They value of a hard worker is appreciated, and the people still want each other's help in everyday endeavors. The class/caste system doesnot seem to pre-poison acceptance of strangers as much as it does in Financial Centers where people must be part of a Powerful in-group for their survival.

PJ said...

Texas by far. Amarillo.

I have to agree with DBQ, although the upper midwest is also great in that way. In fact, Madison would be on my list of places where you can just wander into a diner and reliably get into a pretty interesting conversation.

I don't think it's a heartland thing, though, because I feel the same way about the East Village in NYC.

James M said...

People from Utah are so friendly they come to your state to talk to you.

MayBee said...

Fayetteville, AR

Ha! I was going to name the same place!


Hilarious! That is exactly what I clicked in to say.

traditionalguy said...

Professor, have you seen a well done film called, A History of Violence. It is set in the friendly part of Indiana and contrasts that community with the Big City of Philadelphia in a story that works well at several levels.

Richard Fagin said...

Someone should ask this question of President Obama. After all, he's been in more states than anyone else. 57 at last count, I believe.

Ron said...

I have my best conversations in NYC...guy I didn't know at the table next to me asked me a basketball question, and we quickly had a 10 minute discussion Uwe Blab! We knew we'd never see each other ever again, but that 10 minutes was a howl!

Trooper York said...
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Walt said...

Red yellow black or white; the folks in just about any of the former slave states will talk your head off. Just remember these kind souls are very keen on keeping eye contact. They are also well known for their hospitality.

Celia Hayes said...

Add me in for Texas - extraordinarily easy to start a conversation about anything, anywhere. I had a wonderful chat in line at the bank on Friday, and wound up talking to the gentleman behind me about how he drove a stock truck with three heifers and a bull on the interstate all the way back from Kentucky to his place in Texas; how he couldn't stop at the highway rest stops and take them to the doggie poop area, 'cause he would have needed a shovel the size of a tractor scoop, and when he stopped for the night he parked the trailer a way from the motel so that the cattle wouldn't disturb the other patrons. "You could have said they were crickets... very big crickets!"
Things are bigger here, you know. Texas, definitely for amusing conversations in odd places.

Tari said...

Texas, of course. Even in Houston people are far friendlier than anywhere else I've been.

Theo Boehm said...

Talking with strangers is overrated.

In Massachusetts, if you're Not From Around Here, what is there to say?

If you're from the South, well, we won the Civil War, didn't we? Do you still wear a bedsheet on weekends, and how many teeth have you got?
If you're from the West Coast, you're some weirdo, plus it's so far away from the United States.
If you're from the Midwest, you know, we might tolerate you rubes from flyover country, but don't get any ideas.
And if you're from New York, you're just not our sort, if you know what I mean.

Marcia said...

Another vote for Texas.

But we Kansans are pretty friendly too, as long as you're not obviously from Missouri.

Darcy said...

Can agree with the nod to Texans!

But anything that gives the nod to people like Hoosier Daddy and Paul Snively makes me smile, too! Hoosiers are represented very well on this blog, I think!

Dan Karipides said...

Looks like it is a landslide but...another vote for Texas.

When I first moved to Austin I lived in one of those huge apartment complexes with a sea of mailboxes in a detached building. My GF of the time and I went to check the mail as the postman was filling the boxes. We turned around to leave when he called after us.

He then rooted through his bags of mail to find ours and hand it to use personally. All with a smile on his face.

His attitude was mirrored everywhere. People in stores ask you how you are doing not because they are trying to make a sale but because the honestly seem to want to know.

I've since moved to Boulder, Colorado and while the scenery is beautiful the people are just much less open and friendly to strangers.

Darcy said...

And hee, Trooper! I've gotten some NYers to chat with me. I liked the challenge!

Ann Althouse said...

@James M

LOL

traditionalguy said..."Professor, have you seen a well done film called, A History of Violence."

Yes, and here's my blog post about it.

Just reread what I wrote, and my #1 reaction is, wow, Viggo Mortenson is handsome.

kynefski said...

I propose it has a lot to do with how demographically stable a place is. People who are used to talking on the street with people they know vaguely are more likely to be comfortable talking with strangers.

Ann mentions her father. My father grew up in Chester. He was a very quiet man in social settings, but very friendly in public.

Harry Flugleman said...

The Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous and likeable. In three days no one could stand him.

I'm another homer who is voting for Texas. People are naturally very friendly and are proud of it. There was even a state proposal to change us from being The Lone Star State to The Friendly State. Texan masculinity won out though, and the proposal was defeated. Not all people react positively to our friendliness though, sort of like sitting next to the friendly talkative person on an airplane.

I lived in Bloomington, Indiana for a year and the people there were very nice. Though I still feel my home state comes out ahead.

New Yorkers can be friendly. They are just always in a hurry and don’t have much time for friendly chatter. And some New Yorkers will react very negatively to genuine kindness. They just feel like you are trying to sell them into something. NY gets my vote for the friendliest of the unfriendly states.

Anthony said...

Growing up in the now infamous Elkhart, attending Indiana University-Bloomington, and having lived in Indianapolis, I can safely say Indiana, and all parts (rural/manufacturing, college town, urban area) all have the same, friendly, down to earth, interesting people that the midwest so ably breeds.

MadisonMan said...

I vote against Iowa. They can be cold as the falling thermometer in December if you ask about the weather in July. And they're so doggarm stubborn they can stand touching noses for a week at a time and never see eye to eye.

I am amused that three people say the town where my brother lives. He's tactiturn, so I'm thinking he's observing a lot of conversations amongst strangers.

michaele said...

I'll put in a vote for TN although I don't mind losing to Texas. I have found people in the South very open to casual friendly conversation.

Chris said...

Depends on what part of Indiana. South Bend, not so much. A little further south in Bremen, friendlier.

Ornithophobe said...

I'm from Louisville, KY. We talk to people standing in the grocery line. A cop pulled me over for a tail light out once and we had a lovely conversation about where you can still find "Tab" soda for sale. (I had a can in my car.) Total strangers still smile at you and say hello on the street, here.

But I think this is a pretty common arrangement from southern Indiana all the way to Texas, especially outside of the big cities full of northern transplants. In my travels around Tennessee, the Carolinas, West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, and parts of Florida, I've always found that people are friendly and chatty to me.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

I agree Texans are always ready to chat...

as long as you're talking about TEXAS!

hdhouse said...

I've got to go with NYC for short, casual conversations and here in S. Florida/Ft. Lauderdale for some indepth. Politically charged discussions always seem to work down here. Wonder why.

FortWorthGuy said...

Having gone to school in Fayetteville, Ar I would tend to agree with the above positive responses. However, Fort Worth is also very friendly and people easy to chat up....at the drop of a Stetson!

Jay said...

If I may just make an observation on the comments so far: it seems telling that the northeast, by omission, seems the most inhospitable.

Working on calling folks nationwide all day, I've must say, that generally, northeast past Maryland doesn't yield much in the way of friendliness. It's as if time were so valuable that hospitality to strangers is of little import in America's armpit.

twinsdad said...

that's easy, NYC..in fact one evening on my way to my car in Times Square , almost every woman on the block tried to talk to me...

traditionalguy said...

The story in A History of Violence was about Mortenson's character's living down his great skill at defensive violence in a social group that finds any violence a distasteful thing. That he was able to make that transition, with a great effort on his part, and that in the end he found a merciful acceptance from that social group he had protected with his skill, was a happy ending and very encouraging to all of us Guardian men.

Sarah said...

I grew up in Wisconsin, then off to Chicago and South Bend for school (go Irish!), and am now in Terre Haute, plus I've been to all but three states.

I have to say, people here are really friendly. I add at least five to ten minutes to how long I think a trip will be, because I always end up talking to someone I have never met before. I was at home in Madison over the weekend, and I was once again struck by how fast it was to go everywhere, as I didn't need to talk to someone in each store.

Bill White said...

Farm country in central Illinois is pretty good. When I worked as a cashier at a small-town gas station after college, I heard confessions/autobiographies a few times a week, not so much from the locals but from strangers passing through. Maybe I shoulda been a bartender.

Virginia said...

Jay - "armpit." That's not very friendly!

I'm surprised so many western states were left out. I remember how friendly I thought everyone was in California. It surprised me. And for a big city, I thought Chicagoans were pretty decent.

elliot said...

I went to Purdue and I miss Indiana, but I think Wisconsin is friendlier.

Schorsch said...

Ohio. My home state. Not only chatty, conversations feel like you're old friends, maybe distant cousins. I only hope the state stops emptying out, because they know how to raise good folks there.

ElcubanitoKC said...

Missouri or Kansas (Kansas City metro area...) except if you encounter me, and I don't recognize you...

Beth said...

Louisiana! New Orleans, especially - How's yer mom an'em?

But I've encountered nice, chatty people pretty much anywhere. The South stands out, but New Yorkers have always been nice to me, too.

Maine - the people were nice, but quiet. We visited friends for a week and quickly realized that our Southern mannerisms stood out, and that we were most often the people speaking. At Thanksgiving dinner, we ate with a friend and her family. The dad and brother never spoke, that I can recall. But as our friend took us for a little tour around the farm and printing business, the brother followed along. That means he likes you, our friend assured us. I guess that counts as a conversation in Maine.

Tibore said...

"... but where they truly openly and easily just go right ahead and roll right into a conversation about any number of things, not boring you with their life story or problems or anything like that, but laughing at your little observations and offering up little morsels of things they happen to know? I'm going to say: Indiana!"

I'd say yes to most of that, except for the part about "not boring you with their life story or problems or anything like that". If you don't get that far, then you weren't talking with 'em long enough. :)

Yes, I live here.

rhhardin said...

Strangers anywhere talk to you if you walk with a well-behaved dog.

Big Mike said...

I'll put in my vote for West (by God!) Virginia, and, no, I don't live there.

Texans are mostly pleasant. I've been to El Paso, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin. After a four day trip to Dallas I wound up hating the place as much as I despise New York. And that's going some. I'd go back to San Antonio in a heart beat (but not El Paso in the summer, thank you very much).

Marcia said...

Virginia said, "And for a big city, I thought Chicagoans were pretty decent."

I agree completely. Easily the friendliest of the big cities I've visited. It's definitely part of the midwest.

paul a'barge said...

Best? Texas
Worst? Pennsylvania
Close second next to Texas? NYC.

No kidding.

LonewackoDotCom said...

You can strike up a conversation anywhere with most anyone if you do it the way that's appropriate for the local customs. The problem is that most people have nothing interesting to say.

Tip: if you have problems approaching people, do what I do. Bring along a microphone and a camera and pretend to be interested in otherwise meaningless things.

tjl said...

I grew up in Massachusetts and live in Texas so I know the opposite extremes of the sociability scale. Texans are friendly as everyone above agrees. Massachusetts is social Antarctica.

Freeman Hunt said...

Least friendly place in the country: DC. I defy anyone to name worse. And no, that's not just a crack at Congress.

tim maguire said...

Jokes aside, the streets of NYC are a very easy place to strike up real conversations with strangers.

We're simply reluctant to do it in elevators and trains because, when the conversation hits its natural end, you're both still standing there and are forced to keep up the pleasantries until one of your stops comes up. That part is uncomfortable, but if you want to get the whole crowd in debate, just ask directions.

William said...

Definitely NYC. One way to strike up a lively conversation is for two strangers to hone in on the same parking place. This always causes a you first my dear Gaston, no after you my dear Alphonse type conversation. Something about trying to share a parking place brings out the courtly, old world manners of New Yorkers. Many life long relationships have been formed during these spontaneous conversations.

Glen said...

I'd have to agree it's Texas - even in the larger cities. As other commenters here have noted, Texas seems to transcend the urban/rural theory of relative friendliness. Perhaps it's because Texans all have the right to carry concealed firearms. And do.

The least chatty place I've ever lived was Vermont. Good Lord! They don't even like talking to each other. You could live in Vermont 20 years and still be a stranger in your own town.

ricpic said...

People from Utah are so friendly they come to your state to talk to you.

There's a difference between talking and proselytizing.

But seriesly, Althouse didn't only say conversations, she said interesting conversations and for that you can't beat NYC. Of course, it's usually more of a monologue that a street eccentric will gift you with but at least it's memorable.

Tex said...

When I first moved from Texas to New York years ago, I began commuting from the suburbs to my job in Manhattan. Each morning I would step onto the train platform located in my charming suburban village, smiling and expecting to chat with my fellow commuters. Or, at least to exchange good morning nods. Instead, I was always met with stony silence and averted eyes. So there we would all be, standing side by side in silence.

I’ve long since gotten used to it, and I have to remember to put on my “Texas” face whenever I travel back to my home state.

ricpic said...

So far two comments about the coldness of Massachusettsites and Vermonters. Dead on. I lived in Vermont for over a decade and I'm still thawing out. Damn tight-ass New Englanders.

John Stodder said...

I can't believe I'm going to be the first to mention the world center of politeness: Minnesota!

I agree, Texans are garrulous and friendly and unafraid to say what's on their minds. But that's not what Ann asked. She asked, "in which of the states is it easiest to talk to strangers?"

In Minnesota, or at least in the greater Minneapolis area, you could talk to anyone you see and they would respond to you, if only out of fear of seeming rude or unkind.

In some places, appearing to be rude or unkind is cultivated as if it's a sign that one is deserving of respect. In Minneapolis, no one is too important or powerful to stop and talk to a stranger.

I've run into big gobs of politeness in St. Louis (where I fractured my ankle in December and was very dependent on the kindness of strangers), OK City and Wisconsin. The Midwest is generally a warmer and more human place than either coast. But Minneapolitans act like they're in a competition for niceness and they're not going to let those bastards in Des Moines get past them.

Glen said...

ricpic said:
"But seriesly, Althouse didn't only say conversations, she said interesting conversations and for that you can't beat NYC. Of course, it's usually more of a monologue that a street eccentric will gift you with but at least it's memorable.

Althouse said:
"...where they truly openly and easily just go right ahead and roll right into a conversation about any number of things, not boring you with their life story or problems or anything like that, but laughing at your little observations and offering up little morsels of things they happen to know?"

It seems to me that Althouse was stipulating small, effortless conversations which aren't burdened with rants or neurosis.

If I want an interesting monologue, I can find it in any Greyhound bus station, in any city, of any state in America. Or any faculty department of any university for that matter. Or even right here on Althouse.

bridgecross said...

Alaska, hands down. The only state I've ever been where EVERYBODY wants to have a chat. And picking up hitchhikers is not only safe, but, in the winter months, mandatory.

Glen said...

bridgecross said:

Alaska, hands down. The only state I've ever been where EVERYBODY wants to have a chat. And picking up hitchhikers is not only safe, but, in the winter months, mandatory

I can believe that. Any correlation between the fact that Alaska and Texas are the two biggest states?

madfolly said...

Indiana is it; I couldn't agree more. I've lived in California for a long time, am living in London now, and have travelled all over the U.S. and the world. Indiana is the most authentically friendly place I've been.

Theo Boehm said...

ricpic said...
So far two comments about the coldness of Massachusettsites....


That's Massholes, ric.

pj said...

Ed: you have to go to the Italian parts of Hartford - though I hear they are all Puerto Rican now. it was considered rude by an older generation if you didn't talk for half an hour before you buy the cannoli.

Speaking for only for California, there's a huge difference if you go to the south bay beach cities. A friend, from Silicon Valley remarked, "My God, everyone is so HAPPY here." Completely different if you go to the areas of extended attitude that is LA (i.e. West Hollywood, Malibu etc.)

If you're in NoCal, Napa-Sonoma is always good - something about the pastoral scenery and everyone always being half drunk from wine tasting.

New Yorkers are brusque, but once you get them going they have the highest end conversational abilities.

Ann Althouse said...

John Stodder: "In some places, appearing to be rude or unkind is cultivated as if it's a sign that one is deserving of respect. In Minneapolis, no one is too important or powerful to stop and talk to a stranger. I've run into big gobs of politeness in St. Louis (where I fractured my ankle in December and was very dependent on the kindness of strangers), OK City and Wisconsin. The Midwest is generally a warmer and more human place than either coast. But Minneapolitans act like they're in a competition for niceness and they're not going to let those bastards in Des Moines get past them."

I think the Minnesota thing is similar to Wisconsin, and it's different from what I felt in Indiana. In Wisconsin, you encounter an unfailing niceness and politeness and an earnest concern about doing what is right. In Indiana, it was much less superficial. I felt that here, we are all friends -- not a mere pretense of friendship to facilitate social interaction, but something warmer that seemed to reflect a genuine pleasure in human interaction.

jeff said...

Midwest. You don't really notice it until you go somewhere else. Here in Wichita we had visitors from out of the country and from the East Coast and they wouldn't shut up about how friendly people are here. It started to get annoying. Clearly, I am the exception.

Rick Lee said...

As Big Mike says... West Virginia... I do live there. The quality of conversation you get might vary a lot, but people will talk to you for sure.

Cissy Apple said...

I'm from Indiana, and have heard from those outside of our state that we Hoosiers are polite and friendly. And for the most part, that's true. But we found geniune southern hospitality and friendly folks in Savannah, Georgia.

AJ Lynch said...

I've been to about 45 of the 57 states states and I'd split my vote between West Virginia and Minnesota.

Midwest overall is the most friendly part of USA IMO.

reader_iam said...

Cissy: Of all my first cousins on both sides, only one has left Indiana. She's in ... Savannah.

Sara (Pal2Pal) said...

Mississippi, South Carolina are high on my friendly list.

Oregon the very worst. I swear they're all on Prozac or meds for light depredation. Nasty!

Paul Snively said...

Darcy: But anything that gives the nod to people like Hoosier Daddy and Paul Snively makes me smile, too! Hoosiers are represented very well on this blog, I think!

Awww, thanks! That's so sweet! I'm so glad that you think so. :-)

Chip Ahoy said...

Trooper said, Walk up to any New Yorker and ask a question and they will all tell you the same two words.

Answer: "dunno deweye."

Rita said...

Ed from Conn: The people of the great state of Indiana salute you. Your comment made me laugh out loud.

Come to our state, we love a sense of humor. Especially from you New Englanders.

The Elder said...

Yep, there's no doubt about it. Wonderful things can happen to you in Indiana!

Jennifer said...

I have to go with Oregon. In Hawaii, people can be extremely friendly - even with ridiculously touristy types - but it's a little more hit or miss. In the South, people are very friendly but extremely hard to understand until you've hung around for a while. So, they'll talk to you, but to what end?

I wonder about the global question. I have a friend who lives in Finland who is ready to throw the entire population out the window. They not only won't talk to anyone, they don't even smile or make eye contact.

Rita said...

Jennifer: If you open this up to world wide, I'd have to say the people from India. (Maybe it's the Indiana/India connection.)

Our family has more or less adopting a wonderful man from India when he was getting his MBA here. Having worked with alot of people from India, I have never met one who was not the kindest, most polite and gentlest people I have ever met. Wonderful, wonderful people.

Walt said...

It would seem folks, that the winner is TEXAS!

traditionalguy said...

A tip of the hat to Ft worth, Texas. This is a small town (cowtown?) with all its metroplex amenities stored over in Dallas. You go from high end neighborhoods with a College or two, a Mall, country clubs, big churches etc. to the edge of the town that ends where the texas ranch country begins. There are little if any abandoned and junk areas. And the people are proud of everything and will tell you all about the facinating history. This was the railhead to ship cattle to Chicago, and the cattle drives ended here for years. Drunken cowboys looking for a fight are still easy to find if you know where to look. It's a tradition.

Skyler said...

I've lived in:

Massachussetts (Nantucket)
Rhode Island (Tiverton)
Virginia (Virginia Beach and NorVa)
Indiana (Notre Dame, Lafayette)
California (Sacramento, Los Angeles, Irvine)
New Orleans (I hated every racist, corrupt, violent minute of being there, Iraqis were friendlier on average)
Florida (Pensacola)
Texas (Austin, San Antonio)

Coming from California to Austin was like a culture shock. I have no intention of living anywhere else (except war zones) if I can possibly help it. San Antonio is okay, but Austin is special. People are exceptionally friendly here. I've never seen anything like it, except Nantucket in the off seasons (but then I'm related to 1/4 of the people there so that might not be a fair comparison.)

T Migratorious said...

I feel uniquely qualified to comment because I am a native Texan married to a native Hoosier (naturalized Texan). I think we'd both agree that Texans are friendlier. Rural Texans are even good at observing boundaries!

Oddly, however, the Texan vibe appears to dog me when I travel out of state. I have been standing on street corners in many, many states, utterly lost, yet I always have strangers come up to ME to ask for directions. I guess we have welcoming faces.

Ann Althouse said...

Hi, Elder!

Donna B. said...

Dallas and Austin are not as friendly as they have been once, but Ft. Worth? Oh yeah. Plus, Joe T.'s is great place to drink... I mean eat.

Really, it's good but not the greatest food, yet the atmosphere is so awesome, you don't really notice.

In my experience, medium to small towns are the friendliest, because if you get to a really small town (less than 500 people) the suspicions about why your are there are difficult to overcome.

I have never been to the northeast or upper midwest. I am deprived, I think.

Merry said...

Upper Midwest/Minnesota - and not just when in the state, either. I can't tell you how many times a random American has struck up a conversation with me in China (last week at the Forbidden City in Beijing, for example), and a few minutes conversation establishes that we're both from Minnesota.

Psychedelic George said...

Vermont is a very friendly state....

"For 64 years, it's been a mailbox staple, offering home remedies, kitchen wares and long-forgotten brands in hopes of helping consumers solve life's little problems, from spider veins to unwanted nose hair.

But recently, the Vermont Country Store catalog made a surprising addition: sex aids.

The inclusion of an "Intimate Solutions" section selling six-speed vibrators, instructional sex videos, "pleasure gels" and an all-natural "arousal cream" has prompted cancellation notices, irate letters and calls, and a sort of identity crisis for the staid New England brand, which has never been accused of being racy before."

John said...

It can be real hard to strike up mutually enjoyable random conversations in smaller, polite upper midwestern communities. I think it's because they are such upstanding, responsible communities. Outright friendliness with strangers is rather pointless. You'll never meet again, so why bother? This is probably a bit extreme, but it helps me come to terms with the fact that very polite places, very civilized places, can feel so fake and unwelcoming, sometimes. You need to be pointless to be spontaneous. And random convo thrives on that.

EDH said...

I'm from Massachusetts, and if you ask me, the people around here are too god damn friendly.

So, I don't know where all these bastids get the silly idea that people from Massachusetts aren't friendly.

What the fuck are you look'n at?

(A dramatization.)

kynefski said...

At the end of this thread, I notice that the only mention of Pennsylvania has been as the worst.

People say we have a bad attitude.

We say fuck 'em.

Theo Boehm said...

Ah, EDH has captured the Essence of Masshole.

Yeah, and what th' fuck are you look'n at?

former law student said...

My favorite quote on Hoosiers from Kurt Vonnegut, from his How to Write with Style :

I myself grew up in Indianapolis, where common speech sounds like a band saw cutting galvanized tin, and employs a vocabulary as unornamental as a monkey wrench.

An ex-Silicon Valleyite writes:

I remember looking agog at my husband in the first Texan restaurant we went to because the server didn't obviously hate us, like they all do in California.

Stay the heck away from Rhode Island, then. I took a short class in Palo Alto once; my table mate was a young woman from Providence. I asked her how she liked what she had seen of the Bay Area. She raved about how friendly all the locals were who had waited on her (in stores as well as restaurants).

The Elder said...

Hi yourself, Althouse.

It's nice that you know where to go to find people you enjoy.

"Get your motor running . . . "

Walt said...

"Get your motor running . . . "
The Elder must be my generation.

Born To Be Wild

Shanna said...

People do this a ton in Arkansas, but when I went to Colorado last year I was talking to a bunch of random people, and they all turned out to be Arkansas transplants! Not sure if that counts for Arkansas or Colorado.

Kirk Parker said...

Jennifer,

My wife grew up in northern Minnesota, in an area with lots of Finnish immigrants. So naturally she has lots of Finn jokes. Here's a sample:

Q: How do you tell if a Finn is extroverted?

A: He stares at your shoes when he's talking to you.

gt said...

I'm from delaware,and that taciturn-ness is deeply ingrained in me. My roommate from milwaukee will talk to anybody about anything, and I keep being floored by it. But I've been enjoying those random conversations recently in places like west virginia and kalamazoo.
I live in Indianapolis,and haven't been able to find anywhere to go talk to people here.