As we learned in the first few months after we moved up here from Colorado, what the term “Minnesota nice” really means is the smiling but passive aggressive behavior you can get when trying to get help or something else from someone. (At first we thought it just referred to how apparently polite everyone was.)
But the term works because people here really are nice. This weekend we went to a public fireworks display and thought nothing about leaving camping chairs and other belongings sitting out for several hours at the spot where we planned to watch fireworks after it got dark. They are nice camp chairs but obviously nobody would think of stealing them.
A few weeks ago my nephew was visiting from Oregon and after a few days, he asked us, “So what’s the deal with this niceness?” We asked what he meant.
“I mean,” he said, “the first day or so I was confused. I wondered why people were being nice. I thought they were mocking me. Then I realized they were serious, seriously nice. Even college students! Where do college students come from who are nice like this?”