Transplants Agree: Michiganders Are an Unwelcoming Group
I am not a well-traveled person. In fact, I’ve only taken three major trips in my life: one to Florida when I was seven years old (I barely remember it); another to Niagara Falls when I was 21; and a third to Tennessee when I was 23. So, as you can see, I’ve spent approximately 99.9 percent of my life in Michigan, where I was born and raised.
While I haven’t traveled outside of my home state very much, I have traveled extensively within it. My ex-husband and I used to take regular weekend trips to the Upper Peninsula, Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island, Houghton Lake, Cheboygan, South Haven, Saugatuck, Frederick, Ludington, Tawas Bay, Silver Lake, Traverse City, Frankfort… granted, we generally stuck with touristy locals, but each of these was vastly different from my hometown, which is located in the Michigan’s southeast region.
Given this vast amount of local travel, I feel that I'm in a position to make the following claim: people from southern Michigan are not very nice. You’re probably thinking I base this solely on my own experiences, and while those certainly play into my feelings, I’ve actually spoken to a number of people who feel the same way. Let me explain.
So Much for Midwestern Charm
My good friend from North Carolina, didn’t move to Michigan until she was 31. She left her home to be with her then-fiancée (they’ve since married), and after eight years, she still can’t adjust to the way of living here. She is upbeat, outgoing, and down-to-earth, but she hasn’t made more than a handful of friends since moving here. This is in sharp contrast to North Carolina, where she had dozens of close friends.
My friend doesn’t often voice her opinion about the people in Michigan – she feels a sense of loyalty to the state from which her husband hails – but in a rare moment of honesty, she confided to me. “I feel really lonely most of the time. I’ve tried so hard to make friends here, but the people are terrible. I’m shunned if I smile at somebody I don’t know. Nobody says ‘please’ or ‘thank you,’ and everyone seems to be in an exclusive clique. I’d move back home in a heartbeat if I could.”
Another of my close friends moved from Texas to Michigan in 2010, after her husband’s job transferred him. They have lived throughout the United States: Wyoming, Montana, Texas, and California, just to name a few of the states in which they've spent some significant time. They have also traveled abroad extensively to Africa and Mexico, and she vehemently believes the people in southern Michigan are “the rudest I’ve ever met.”
Still another friend – this one a male – lived in Florida for five years. After losing his job he returned to Michigan, only to find “the people were even worse than before I left. They’re arrogant, self-absorbed, and high-strung. The people in Florida are much nicer, much friendlier. But it’s apparent that nobody up here gives a damn about anything except themselves.”
I’ve already clarified that I haven’t traveled much outside of Michigan. But in traveling throughout Northern Michigan, I’ve discovered the people who reside in those areas are considerably nicer than what I’m used to in the southeast corner. They greet others with a smile and a friendly ‘hello,’ beep and wave when driving down the road, and treat you like you’re a long-lost friend (even if they've just met you).
So, what is it about Southeast Michigan? Is there some truth to the theory that people in other parts of the country are nicer? Or are people everywhere basically the same? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I can tell you this: I’m not imagining the cynicism of the people where I live. And if I could choose, I would prefer that they act like those I’ve met in other parts of the state - preferably from what we affectionately refer to as Up "North".