A number of years ago, an unwise winter trip reminded me of the reality of nature, but also the nature of Iowans.

I decided to visit one of the beautiful streams in Northeast Iowa. Blithely driving down a steep hill to the stream on a dead end road, I ignored the snow and ice only to find at dusk that my car could not get back up the hill.

I walked a half mile to the nearest house. It was cold, and I could see a hint of the northern lights off to the north. I was dirty and covered with icy mud. When the door opened, I explained that I was an idiot and had driven my car into a bad spot and I couldn’t possibly get out.

They invited me in, sat me down by the fireplace and offered me some food.

Iowans will help if they think help is really needed.

They called a wrecking truck from the nearest town. I explained to the driver I needed to be pulled out. He wanted to know where the car was. When I explained, he laughed and said I was out of luck. If he drove his truck down there, he would not be able to get it out, as he put it, “until next spring.”

Iowans are practical.

My hosts called a neighbor who had a monster tractor. He came over, we all went down the hill, and he pulled me out. I offered the driver $20 and he took it.

Iowans are not only practical, they know how to get things done.

Iowans are also contradictive. Here is a little example.

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How would you react if you learned McDonald’s was charging its employees to park near where they worked? They would be fined if they didn’t park in the correct space, and if a customer took the space, even though the employee had paid, she was simply out of luck.

What about workers who make more money? How would you react if you learned John Deere engineers had to pay John Deere to park anywhere near where they worked? They too would be fined if they didn’t comply with numerous parking regulations.

I suspect Iowans wouldn’t like this and would believe the workers were being unfairly treated.

Iowans are fair and have a sense of equalitarian


But professors have to pay their employers to park, and can then be fined for any infraction of many parking rules. Even though they paid to park, they have no right to find a place to park.

Iowans just shrug and say, “Well, of course, professors should pay to park.”

Iowans have some quirks.

Recently, somebody that does this sort of thing ranked Iowa as the best state in the union. In many ways, that is true.

Yet, statistically and demographically, we are almost always right in the middle, and in a way that is reassuring. If an Iowan is an average American, then our country is still a very good place to be.

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Dennis Clayson is a marketing professor at the University of Northern Iowa. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa.


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