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Viewpoint: North Dakota nice

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As many of you may know, I’m not from around here.

In fact, as far as American cities are concerned, in a cultural sense, the streets I used to roam in South Texas probably couldn’t be any more different from the ones found Dickinson, ND.

Let me give you an example.

On my way to a popular restaurant in town one evening, as lush horns and harmonies took me back to sweet southern nights, I heard through the cold, but not bitter, air a young man yelling at me from his vehicle.

Of course the Sunny Ozuna songs in my ear were a little louder than the stranger was, so I must have seemed jolted when I asked him to repeat himself.

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“You need a ride, man?” he said with a slight chuckle.

I looked up and down the street. The guy looked like he was about my age, maybe younger, and was by himself. Maybe he was just paying it forward, being nice — but maybe I was about to get jumped.

Back home, there are certainly places where you could safely accept a ride from a stranger; southern hospitality dictates that the Texas sun burns a little too hot to let somebody walk down some old country road in all good conscience.

But then again there are neighborhoods I’ve wandered through where you are sure to cross the street quickly if a car slows down anywhere near you, especially at night.

I looked around again, trying my hardest to recall any lesson or quick trick I might have picked up throughout my short time on this Earth, stalling perhaps on that dim city sidewalk.

“Where you from, man?” I asked the stranger.

“What? Here. Where you headed?”

“Here?” I asked again, all but ignoring the last question. “Dickinson?”

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“Yes,” he replied, a tenor of frustration now peaking through his smile.

A pause.

“Ok, fine,” I said, finally, before hopping in his car.

The rest of the story is boring, I suppose. The guy just gave me ride to the restaurant and we parted ways forever. While this may seem banal and tedious to somebody who grew up in this area, this is astounding to me.

Like I said, it’s not like people aren’t nice to strangers down in the South, in fact, we’re known for doing so; what makes this scene so interesting to me is the trust the two of us were able to place in each other so sincerely and so readily.

In all honesty, I can’t say certainly if I could have quashed my suspicions as easily back home — or if doing so would be the wisest decision.

In my opinion, the city of Dickinson would do well to reflect upon the trust it’s somehow maintained in itself. From giving strangers rides in the streets to pulling people out of ditches in the winter to leaving your car running while you make a quick stop at the supermarket, these are unusual habits for a city, and y’all should be proud to have made them.

This holiday season, the city of Dickinson should be thankful for that beautiful and rare faith y’all have in each other, because you don’t find it everywhere in America these days.

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Protect, maintain it and foster it in your youth, as much as you can.

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