slubs in the city

Slub (adj): Maverick; unorthodox; independent in behavior or thought.


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dear internets: which state should i live in?

I was born in Texas and resided there until I was 8, at which point my family moved to Minnesota. I’ve lived in the same state ever since.

In certain respects, I’m an obsessive planner. My very detailed life agenda doesn’t see me expiring until I’m around 90, so I figure I have a solid 55 years left to discover the rest of America. Eventually I’d like to move to a different state. The only question is: where?

Obviously this is something that I have a lot of control over and need to figure out IMMEDIATELY, so I decided to use my finely tuned, college-level critical thinking skills to coordinate my future life in a new and exciting state.

I printed off a map of the United States. I used colors to distinguish between the options: green for Let’s Do It!, yellow for Maybe If I Have To, and red for No Way In Hell. Having lived in Minneapolis for the past year – and having grown rather partial to the size and feel of this city, too – I decided to use its population as a yard stick by which to judge all other states. If the total population in the city proper of the largest city in a state fell below this marker, it was crossed off my list. Is this an arbitrary tactic? Very likely, yes. But you’ve got to draw a line in the sand somewhere when you’re sorting through 50 potential living situations.

minneapolis — largest city in minnesota! [image credit: here.]

Shockingly enough, there are only 28 states in the Union that passed my residency test. The total population of the largest city in a full 22 states is under 380,000. I was born in Houston (with a population of 2,099,451 in 2010) and grew up in Eagan (a suburb with a similar or bigger population than the largest cities in Delaware, Maine, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming). I am not a small town girl. Not that I have a single thing against small towns, or the great people that live in and love them – it’s just not really my scene.

burlington, largest city in vermont…it does look adorable… [image credit: here.]

In case you’re inexhaustibly curious like me and get off on reading random statistics, here are the numbers for the 28 states that rose above my cut-off line, from least to most populous (according to my lifelong friend Wikipedia) –

CITY STATE POPULATION
Wichita Kansas 382,368
Minneapolis Minnesota 382,578
Omaha Nebraska 408,958
Atlanta Georgia 420,003
Virginia Beach Virginia 437,994
Kansas City Missouri 459,787
Albuquerque New Mexico 545,852
Oklahoma City Oklahoma 579,999
Las Vegas Nevada 583,756
Portland Oregon 583,776
Milwaukee Wisconsin 594,833
Louisville Kentucky 597,337
Denver Colorado 600,158
Seattle Washington 608,660
Boston Massachusetts 617,594
Baltimore Maryland 620,961
Memphis Tennessee 646,889
Detroit Michigan 713,777
Charlotte North Carolina 731,424
Columbus Ohio 787,033
Indianapolis Indiana 820,445
Jacksonville Florida 821,784
Phoenix Arizona 1,445,632
Philadelphia Pennsylvania 1,526,006
Houston Texas 2,099,451
Chicago Illinois 2,695,598
Los Angeles California 3,792,621
New York City New York 8,175,133

New York City. Holy shit guys.

BUILD ALL THE SKYSCRAPERS. [image credit: here.]

Narrowing down my search from 50 to 28 states is a good start, but that’s still a lot of options. My next tactic was to eliminate possibilities based on personal, flagrantly biased opinions and stereotypes, many of which are probably untrue. But my relative inability to make decisions of any sort kept me from eliminating more than 5 states.

i mean…nebraska is probably not going to happen for me…[image credit: here.]

There are a whole host of completely pointless quizzes on the internet, so my next thought was to ask the interwebs for some guidance. I appreciate thorough research, so instead of taking one quiz to determine conclusively where I should live, I rationalized that 4 would give me a relatively decent variety of insights. To add a couple of variables to my complicated research question and undoubtedly improve the quality of my answers, I decided to take two state-specific quizzes and two city-specific quizzes.

After answering a slew of nonsensical and irrelevant questions (Who is/are your favorite Greek god(s)? How would you describe your weight?), I received the following results:

TEST #1: You should live in Kentucky.

TEST #2: New England – You should live in Main, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or Connecticut.

TEST #3: You should live in New York City. America’s largest city will ensure that you will blend into the crowd. You are the brooding type – introspective, creative, and eccentric – and NYC’s cutting-edge, individualistic culture and ambience will appeal to you.

TEST #4: San Diego would make me 100% happy. According to this quiz, Minneapolis would only make me 31% happy.

You may notice, as I did, that none of these quizzes agree about where I should live.

This is probably my cue to move to Italy.

that’s it. done and done. [image credit: here.]

con amor,

shan


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oh hey, remember the golden rule?

Sometimes I wonder how people who have never worked in the service industry come to internalize the word “nice”.

The real world teaches us that being nice to someone can be shockingly difficult to do. We all have stressors that set us off at random times. The fuse for some is significantly shorter and more flammable than for others, and it can be less morally disquieting to be rude to a stranger than to someone you care for and interact with on a regular basis. For a certain reason, at a certain moment, we have all put our foot down in direct opposition to somebody else’s bullshit. And we feel justified in the act.

If you have never worked in the service industry before, it’s hard to understand the intricate dance that requires an employee to balance his or her delicate sense of self-worth with a capacity to provide exceptional customer service. People can be incredibly mean.

EXHIBIT A

I spent two summers working in retail sales in high school. At the register one day, I was approached by a woman who wanted to return a garment she had purchased for her daughter. To complete the return I asked for her address, including her zip code. When she answered with a code that included letters, I was a little confused.

The woman was Canadian and in her estimation I should have known that. I’ve never been to Canada. I had no idea their zip codes include letters.

The woman scoffed at my ignorance. She condescendingly informed me that I should “really know better”, as if my extremely vapid 16 year old brain had purposefully blocked out this one insurmountably important detail of Canadian culture. I was then curtly informed that I shouldn’t disrespect the multitude of Canadian shoppers that frequent the Mall of America, because they supply the majority of the revenue to the stores in America’s largest shopping center.

Now, I don’t have solid facts to back up this assertion, but I’m pulling the BS card on crabby Canadian lady. I’m fairly certain that the majority of revenue generated by the Mall of America stems from Americans.

The way I see it, by the time Canadian lady reached my store, she had been thoroughly harassed by the entire MOA experience. Her patience was running thin. Reason would have told her that it’s not necessary or personally offending for a teenage girl to have little knowledge of the inner workings of the Canadian postal system.

But reason be damned; she just didn’t feel like being nice. And as an employee on the receiving end of her unpleasantness, it was my job to be self-deprecating and pretend like I gave two shits about her zip code. And now, 7 years later, I can still recall that particular exchange almost to the word.

Being treated like an unintelligent or lazy scumbag by customers has broken many a service-oriented employee’s heart. It’s not fun to get shouted at for attempting to do your job. Working at a bakery and for American Eagle, I had it relatively easy. I can’t even imagine the soul-crushing experiences of customer service representatives, telemarketers, or sidewalk recruiters.

But dealing with mean people as an employee has taught me to be incredibly patient and understanding as a consumer. (I say this as a generality; I am only human and have admittedly been less than accommodating to people in the past.)

EXHIBIT A

This past December, Santa brought me the best nerd gift I could have asked for: The Sims 3 – Pets. I was totally jazzed until I attempted to install the game on my computer and realized I had been given a faulty code.

Over the span of 3 weeks I tried reaching out to customer service on multiple different occasions. Each time I was informed that my problem had been solved (when it hadn’t been) or that my problem only existed in my head (when it clearly didn’t). Finally, on my fourth attempt, I connected with a friendly man on the East Coast. Patiently I explained my problem over again. And this time I was presented with a new, functioning code – and a 20% off coupon, in case I had been eyeing any additional products. I didn’t demand the discount. It was simply presented to me. And I’d like to think it was because I wasn’t a complete bitch to customer service representative #4.

EXHIBIT B

Last month, my boyfriend and I were flying from Denver home to Minneapolis. Our seats were in the back of the plane, but they weren’t next to each other. Living by the idea that it’s better to ask than to assume, Jaime approached the front counter at our gate and inquired if it was possible to switch seats, mentioning that we’d be fine with something in the exit row (he’s 6’6” after all). The attendant informed us that the seating arrangements were pretty tight at that point, but that we could purchase any available exit row seats for an additional fee. We thanked her anyway and went back to our bags in the waiting area.

A few minutes before we were to board, the same attendant called Jaime up to the gate counter. He returned with two tickets in hand. We had been given new seating assignments: two seats, right next to each other, in an exit row. No additional charge.

Before we got on the plane we approached the front desk one final time and thanked the attendant again, informing her that we really appreciated her generosity. She smiled and told us that it was her pleasure and that she hoped we had a good flight.

This is one of the most important lessons I will teach to my future children: even when you don’t feel like it, being nice is so much rewarding than being mean. Patience is a virtue and only the most truly enlightened employ it in liberal amounts.

con amor,

shan

[image credit: here.]