Are you really “Iowa-Nice” or a PAWA?

grayscale selective focus photography of people walking on road

The concept of “Iowa Nice” is pretty well known by people both in and outside of the state but are you really as nice as you think are you? Are you what I’m proposing as a new term- Passive-Aggressive White A-hole or PAWA? Or to put it in a more general definition, are you pseudo nice but in a way that can only be described as passive aggressive when you put some thought into how your actions effect others? I say white since honestly I’ve only encountered white people doing the following actions but yes, this is an equal opportunity so anyone of any nationality/race can do it but predominately I’ve had the majority of the people doing this be uber white so I’m just going to go ahead and call it a white-people action.

I want to make it clear Iowans have gotten the reputation of being nice because for the most part Iowans are nice but the actions below aren’t nice and they need to be called out. Focus on the actions below and if you take offense to any of them then maybe take that as a sign you also find them rude or maybe just maybe you’re guilty of them yourself. This isn’t an attack on Iowans themselves it’s an attack on bad behavior. The intent of this is to show that although Iowans are good and are perfectly capable of being nice for the most part, Iowans can be better. Little gestures on a daily basis matter just as much as one larger gesture like helping your neighbor in need one time. If you’re rude on a daily basis then your one time action doesn’t erase all of those little rude things you do consistently. This article is solely to point out your day to day behavior can hurt others even if you don’t realize it or you’re intent is to be “nice” when it actually isn’t.

  1. When you’re walking in public and there’s not a ton of room for you and anyone you’re walking with to all walk side by side together, how do you handle this situation? Do you expect the other people coming towards you to fling themselves into the street or onto the grass to get out of your way? Do you play chicken until someone flinches? Notice the people in the picture and how they’re walking in separate areas? How though there’s plenty of space on the sidewalk for both to walk together, neither couple is actively walking in the other couple’s path towards them? Do you walk like them? How do you handle the game of sidewalk chicken?
  2. When you you know you need to get onto an interstate/bypass entrance but you are forced to stop/go through a traffic light to get there- what lane are you in? Are you in the lane that directly leads to the entrance or are you one of those people who takes the other lane and thinks if you drive fast enough and cut off the person in just enough time, you handled that correctly? Do you rely/demand the person in the correct lane to let you in even though you knew that the entrance was coming up? This isn’t a situation where you’re new the area and have never driven here before and you didn’t know that was your entrance. No, this is an entrance you take every day to work or at least this isn’t brand new you. Do you rely on the Iowa-nice-ness of the person you’re cutting off to let you cut them off? Do you think you’re being “Iowa nice” here?
  3. When shopping and someone is in your way, how do you handle this? Do you wait to the side looking massively impatient (moving around in an obvious way like looking at your watch or phone or making harrumpp noises loud enough to be heard or edging closer and closer to the person so they have no reason not to see you?) while the person is trying to shop themselves giving them a death glare until they leave the area so you can stand there and get in someone else’s way? Do you think rushing them to move is polite when really all you’re doing is making them feel rushed to decide when they have the right to take their time? Do you go up to the area they’re standing and just reach in front of them and not bother to say excuse me or anything? Is there a reason why you’re being so impatient in either of these cases? If so, why are you shopping if you clearly need to be somewhere else? Have you considered looking for something else or at least leaving the area for while so the person can shop without an impatient a-hole rushing them? How do you handle when someone is blocking where you want to be?
  4. Also while shopping- how do you treat your cart? Do you use it as a battering ram or bulldozer to push people out of your way especially those without their own battering rams? Do you walk with it in the middle of the aisle or to the side? Do you take it with you in narrow places even though there won’t be room for you and the cart and anyone else in that space? Is there nothing in your cart but you still insist on pushing it around even though again, it’s empty? Is your cart a glorified walker even though away from the cart you’re physically able to walk upright on your own volition? How do you handle battering rams/carts especially in narrow areas?
  5. How do you handle getting onto a plane? Are you standing impatiently in the front of the line even though your seat is in the very last seating section? Are you in first class and you missed your group being loaded so you demand to be able to cut the what you think of as poors who are loading now? Once you get past the ticket verification, do you get your bag ready to load into the overhead or do you stop traffic as you awkwardly try to pick it up and shove it in a space that isn’t anywhere near your seat? Do you move other people’s luggage that is there so you can have space even though again, this space isn’t near your seat? Once your plane has landed- how do you handle getting off? Do you immediately jump out of your seat once the plane has stopped moving even though it takes a good 10-20 minutes for your seat to be ready to unload? Do you start taking your bag out once you’ve popped up and now use it as a battering ram so the people near you know you need to GET OFF THIS PLANE NOW? Do you let the people ahead of you go when it’s their turn or do you cut ahead of them? How do you handle air travel?
  6. Speaking of lines- how do you handle them in general? Do you cut? How often and what justification did you have? Do you do the toddler pissypants dance of impatience? Do you get directly behind the person in front of you to the point that they feel their safety is in jeopardy as you are literally breathing down their neck in an act of intimidation or douche-baggery? Do you let the person have their things go through the conveyer belt without shoving your things on when there isn’t a divider and causing a potential problem of the cashier ringing them up for the wrong person when you could have just waited to put them down? Do you let people who have one thing to your overflowing cart go ahead of you or do you make them wait this out with you? How do you handle being in line/queue?
  7. How do you act at work? Do you like to cc the boss anytime your co-worker did something you don’t think is correct because you feel the boss needs to know every single mistake your co-worker makes? Do you ask or demand your co-worker do something even if there’s no real rush to getting it done? How is your tone? Do you later punish that person with little acts of aggression for minor infractions or you just simply don’t like this person for no logical reason but you’ve made it your purpose in life to make their work-day bad every opportunity you can? Are you a member of what can only be described as a grown up clique? Are you a mean girl even if you’re a man? Do you cut the donuts brought in because you are such a delicate flower that a full donut is just TOO MUCH to eat by yourself? Do you cut that donut in 1/5ths because your co-workers should have to try and put mis-matched donut parts together to equal the whole one they wanted? How do you handle being a “team player” at work?
  8. How do you handle eating out? Do you have a large group and make sure that your group takes over the place like you own it demanding every staff member’s attention? Do you treat your wait staff like a human or a robot to boss around? How complicated is your order especially when you don’t have a medically diagnosed allergy or intolerance- a doctor diagnosed it not google or Webmd- but you heard about people having them so you probably have one too and now your food has to be difficult to make? Do you clean up your eating area when you’re done eating or does it look like a bomb went off where you sat? How do you handle having to wait for a table even though YOU MADE RESERVATIONS? How do you handle going out to eat?
  9. How do you drive? I addressed entering a interstate/bypass but how do you drive otherwise? Do you tailgate when the person is already going over the speed limit? How often do you find yourself using your horn or swear words? Have you ever slammed on your brakes as punishment to the person behind you for not letting you in as quickly as you expected or some other minor thing they did and now you’re risking both of your lives and safety to get revenge? Do you care if another car is driving towards you before you pull out from a side street in front of them? Do you use your turn signal in the way it was intended or at all? How do you handle driving with others?
  10. Lastly- how do you handle your relationships? Are you always late to an agreed upon time? Do you cancel at the last minute? Do you do what you say you will do when you said you would do it? Do you put in as much effort as you expect from the other person? Do you find ways to punish the person even though they don’t know what they did wrong? Do you find the silent treatment effective? Have you said the words “No, it’s fine” when in fact, it was not fine? Who comes first in a situation where you have to choose between say work or friend/another family member when choosing could hurt that relationship in the long run? How do you handle being in a relationship?

These are just minor things that can be written off as thoughtlessness or even being a bully but no matter how you want to classify them, they will inevitably hurt other people especially those you supposedly care the most about. If you find yourself doing any of them, ask yourself why and then try to fix it- it won’t be easy and you’ll probably keep doing it but at least you’ll be self aware enough to know it’s wrong.

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