The Midwestern Goodbye And 22 Other Signs You're From The Midwest

Every region of the United States has its own quirks. We are partial to those of the Midwest. Certain Midwestern behaviors like measuring distance in hours and smiling at strangers stick with you even after you've moved from the cornfield or the cul-de-sac to the city. Maybe Midwestern niceties are just baked into the region's famous casseroles or chugged from cans of pop. Regardless, you know you're from the Midwest if you commit these 23 tell-tale signs.

You measure distance in hours

Grandma's house isn't 20 miles away, it's a 40-minute drive. "I live 10 minutes from the high school" and "We're about an hour south of Minneapolis" are better ways to gauge distance than a silly unit known as miles.

You drive everywhere but can’t parallel park

In the suburbs, a mile and a half walk to your favorite restaurant is a mile and a half too far. You get into the car instead. Still, despite driving constantly and politely following the rules of the road, you have no idea how to parallel park.

You say ‘hi’ to strangers when walking

When taking a stroll in the park or walking your labrador retriever through your neighborhood, you nod, smile and say a little greeting or offer a friendly compliment to your fellow walkers. You don't know them, of course, you're just acknowledging that they exist.

You don’t know how to say ‘goodbye’

Saying goodbye is never a quick process for Midwesterners. If you want to leave anywhere by 10 p.m., you know to start your exit around 9:15. You must say goodbye to every single person, which also involves a quick catch-up session and promise to see each other again soon. Failing to do so could mean committing an etiquette mistake.

You apologize — a lot

Sorry! Midwesterners will apologize for literally anything. Did someone bump into you at the grocery store? Sorry! Is your coworker speaking a little too softly? So sorry, can you repeat that? Heck, if you're a real Midwesterner, you know you should even apologize to tables and chairs that are in your way.

You’re exceedingly friendly

Not only do you say hi, bye and sorry a lot, but you're down to chat with most people at most times. Before they even ask, you lend a helping hand to someone who needs it. All that kindness is genuine. It's just in your Midwestern blood — or maybe the lake water.

You secretly judge people by their lawns

Try as they might to be kind, a suburban Midwesterner cannot help but see their lawn as a competition. If your neighbors have dry grass, a yard covered in leaves or an untended garden, they're clearly off their rockers.

You wear layers all the time, always

In the Midwest, it can be a chilly 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning, a steamy 80 degrees in the afternoon and a crisp, cool 60 in the evenings. Layers might not always keep you warm, but you still faithfully tuck a cardigan, hat and pair of gloves in your bag each morning. 

You are nostalgic for county fairs

If you weren't showing off a goat or a pie as a part of your 4-H project as a kid, you'd at least hang out at the county fair. You spent a week every summer seeing local rock bands, riding questionable Ferris wheels and eating classic deep-fried fair foods.

You live for the fall

Fall is the best season. Period. The autumnal weather brings back memories of beautiful fall colors, day trips, corn mazes and s'mores roasting by the bonfire. Are all those memories muddled with school-age awkwardness? Yes. But come on, look at the falling leaves.

You know fall equals football season

Those other fall perks are great, but the start of September means one thing: football season. Not lacking in school spirit, you are ride or die for your high school team and your state universities too. Athletes have braved extreme weather for sports. And so have you — from the stands, of course.

You tailgate semi-professionally

Beyond pure competition, you love football season because it means tailgating. Opening up your trunk and grilling burgers, hot dogs, sausages and more makes for an autumnal highlight. Of course, no tailgate would be complete without an ice-cold beer (or two or three). Lager or ale? Learn the difference then impress your friends with your beer knowledge.

Casserole is your favorite food group

If you roll into the potluck with a casserole, you have already won the night. Bonus points if that casserole (aka hotdish) comes with tater tots too. Two trademark Midwestern dishes create a match made in heartland heaven.

Cheese is an important part of your diet

A party held in the Midwest is nothing without cheese. A retro cheeseball? Check. Mac and cheese? Sure thing. Grilled cheese? Why not? Multiple dairy-based dishes are welcome at a Midwestern spread.

You make vintage party foods

The cheeseball isn't the only retro dish that you eat regularly. Despite falling out of fashion across much of the U.S., deviled eggs, Jell-O molds, fondue and cocktail meatballs are some of the best party foods to you.

You drink pop

The Midwest has distinct regional slang. Coastal types can keep their soda. You drink pop. You also call that delicious, sweet spread on top of a cake frosting, not icing. And you know that a last-minute dinner from a Chinese restaurant is carryout, not takeout.

You know puppy chow isn’t for the dogs

Whether you call it puppy chow or muddy buddies, this combination of Chex cereal, peanut butter, chocolate and powdered sugar is one childhood recipe you sure remember.

Superman is your favorite ice cream flavor

Is it vanilla ice cream colored three different ways or three subtly different flavors? Whatever it is, superman ice cream is great, and it defines Midwestern summer.

You don’t swim in oceans or pools, you go to the lake

Why take a dip in a pool full of chlorine or swim in salty beach water when you can leap into a crisp, refreshing freshwater lake instead? The best summer days were spent on the shores of your local lake with a cooler full of pop and sandwiches. If your family was feeling extra adventurous, you may have even headed to the nearest Great Lake.

You swear you don’t have an accent

Everyone in the Midwest will swear there is no accent, but sorry, you kind of have an accent. Try saying cot and caught three times in a row. Or greet my friends Don and Dawn? Yep, your Midwesterner is showing.

You know going to the mall is a big outing

At times, Midwestern life can become a bit boring. So you've likely spent a Saturday away at the mall. Not just commercial shopping centers, malls are integral Midwestern social institutions too. You circle a mall to shop, gossip and occasionally run into someone you may have been avoiding. And you don't forget to eat. Luckily, food court food is the best food.

You don’t mind traveling by car for days

"Why fly? It's only a 12-hour drive" is not an uncommon phrase in the Midwest. Whether you're going to the family's lake house up in Michigan or down to Walt Disney World for a summer vacation, no distance is too far for a good old-fashioned road trip. You may have once even made a pit stop at Ohio's field of giant corn, Michigan's giant carrots or the other coolest Midwestern roadside sights.

You say ‘ope’

You betcha, a true Midwesterner will say "ope" when they run into any and all inanimate objects. Midwesterners also call a vacuum a "sweeper," drop helping verbs and have been known to call a traffic light a "stop and go light." That's just the tip of the iceberg of the best slang terms from around America.

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