56 Rules for How to Behave in the Twin Cities
Let Racket tell you how to live.
7:55 AM CST on February 8, 2023
Last week, The Cut ran a long piece suggesting new rules of etiquette for the 21st century. While some of these tips were applicable to everyone (“If you ghost someone, stay gone forever”), others (“You don’t have to read everyone’s book”) were all too applicable to New York (and particularly New York media) alone.
So we started wondering: What new rules of etiquette would help life in the Twin Cities go a little smoother? Now, we know what you’re thinking: “Well, of course New Yorkers need to be told how to behave. But we are Minnesotans, the most polite people in the U.S. We don’t need someone to teach us manners.”
That’s where you’re wrong! Minnesotans complain about each other as much as if not more than people anywhere else. (Don’t you have NextDoor?) We act in ways we think are polite but are actually just annoying. (Don’t worry, we won’t go into zipper merges here.) And we harbor such venomous grudges when we imagine ourselves wronged that we need some shared rules of etiquette more than anyone else, if only so we know when those grudges are justified.
And who better to lay down the law than your infallible pals at Racket. Here are 56 rules on how to be a good Twin Citian in your everyday life. You don’t need to follow them all, of course. But if we catch you breaking a rule, we will judge you.
How to Get Along With Other Humans
1. It’s OK to be passive-aggressive.
Minnesotans get a lot of grief for this, but think of it this way: It’s not your job to tell someone that they’re being an asshole. They should figure it out themselves! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Or, rather, politely let them tell you, and hold a grudge about it for the rest of your life.
2. Ain’t nothing wrong with a little small talk about the weather.
Look, we have a lot of weather in this state. And sometimes you will be in a social situation where the only thing you can be sure you have in common with the other person is human skin that responds in similar ways to heat and cold and water that falls from the sky. So make the best of it! Learn to enjoy saying shit like “Sure is a hot one” and “We could use some rain though” without shame. (BUT see rule #50 below.)
3. Don’t just accept that some things in Minnesota are bad—say they’re bad.
There’s plenty of gosh darn boosterism in this town. Admitting that something sucks is the first step towards getting something that doesn’t suck, whether we’re talking about pizza chains or public transit.
4. Lick the last piece (of cake, pizza, etc.) so no one has to feel bad about not taking it.
It’s only polite.
5. Let everyone have their own definition of Uptown.
Yes, we know the “Uptown Business District” or whatever it’s officially called has actual borders. But almost every person has their own idiosyncratic definition of where Uptown begins and ends. Why fight about this? No one will ever convince anyone else. As long as they’re not getting too wild with the borders, let everyone have their own Uptown.
6. Follow as many “Local Twitter” users as you can. Then mute them immediately.
Fine, fine, you don’t have to mute them all, but you certainly don’t need to hang on their every word, either. Just because someone is a Notable and Loud Local on Twitter doesn’t mean you need to take everything they say seriously, or at face value—Racket staffers very much included. Twitter will be relevant for another year max anyway (assuming we can even say it’s relevant now).
7. Set people up with your friends and exes.
Socially, Minneapolis-St. Paul is like a small town. You’re going to end up dating friends, and you’re going to end up dating friends’ exes. Let us firmly state here that it is okay—and not only that, it’s encouraged. Got an ex you like but it didn’t work out, or two friends who are too polite to make a move on their own? Set! Them! Up!
8. When someone asks “Do you know [NAME]?” (about someone who is not present) and you don’t or you’re not sure, say “That name sounds familiar.”
Never confess your ignorance!
9. When someone asks “Do you know [NAME]?” (about someone who is present) and you don’t or you’re not sure, said “Yeah, good to see you again!” with a big smile.
This way if you really have met (and they remembered) you won’t be embarrassed, and otherwise you’ll make them feel like an especially memorable person.
10. If you are from Minneapolis, do not make jokes about St. Paul.
What has St. Paul ever done to you anyway? And Edina is sitting right there. [Ed. note: Racket’s lone Minneapolis-born staffer strongly disagrees with this rule; he says the historic rivalry between the cities should be “honored and stoked.”]
11. Folks living in any ring of the suburbs should not claim to be Minneapolitans or St. Paulites.
Just don’t. You’ll be exposed.
12. Debate the local-ness of celebs with great frequency and conviction.
Prince, Bob Dylan, Josh Hartnett, and the Coen brothers are locals. Claim them without hesitation. Vince Vaughn, Jessica Biel, and Chris Pratt? Their Minnesota bona fides are the subjects of loud, passionate debate. (Never forget Vaughn’s very random star on the short-lived Minnesota Walk of Fame.) Don’t get silly and start saying Bon Iver or the Hold Steady are local, though.
13. Snakebitten sports fans must approach their fate with good humor.
According to the esteemed researchers at HotDog.com, the Twin Cities region is among the 10 longest-suffering, championship-less metropolitan areas in North America. Racket’s Em Cassel was born the last year one of our Big Four teams won a ‘ship—the ’91 Twins. The Vikings have lost the second-most Super Bowls ever and always find creative new ways to torment fans; the Wolves are, statistically, the worst franchise in major American men’s sports (thank god for the Lynx...); the Wild haven't done squat since replacing the North Stars, who broke our hearts en route to Dallas. All this unpleasantness should be approached with winking gallows humor, lest we lose our minds every season.
14. Don’t treat Minnesota as a monolith.
The Prairie Home Companion stereotypes, while still unfunny in their original broadcast form, no longer represent our once blindingly white state. We’re painting with some pretty broad, and perhaps outdated, brushstrokes here, but we’re trying to be mindful that Minnesota isn’t just the land of Lutherans stuffing their faces with lutefisk—and you should, too. Wonderful evidence of our increasing diversity is all around us.
15. Read—and ideally, subscribe to—Racket.
Everyone is doing it.
How to Leave the House
16. If you see someone you think you recognize in public, stare at them and immediately look away when you catch their eye.
They know you saw them. Ball’s in their court now.
17. But if you see someone from a dating app in the wild you’re free to ignore them completely.
Like we said before… it’s a small town.
18. It is not only your right but your duty to tell the elderly to shut up during a movie.
They’re the last generation that will retire and die of natural causes on a habitable planet. They can keep quiet for 90 to 120 minutes. Bonus points for getting old folks ejected from the theater. Double bonus points if that theater is the Edina.
19. Keep a few dollar bills in your pocket in case someone asks for a buck.
It feels good to help out a little when you can, and it’s easier than trying to find random bills in your purse/backpack/receipts-stuffed wallet.
20. Don’t make a big scene about how you’re not tipping.
The Cut story covered the new rules of tipping in great detail, and we largely defer to them. But we’d add: If there’s an option to tip and you don’t feel like the service warranted it because you just stopped into St. Paul Bagelry for a water bottle or whatever, quietly push the no tip button and turn the iPad screen back around. Under absolutely no circumstances should you say something like, “Do people seriously tip you for this?” Customers who do this are the worst people on this list.
21. Tall people must be conscious of their height at shows.
No one’s saying you have to stand all the way in the back, but you should never step directly in front of someone shorter than you. Scandinavian men are massive, and they ruin sight lines from the Entry to the Armory.
22. Kids and dogs are OK at breweries and restaurants—if they’re on their best behavior.
From Bauhaus to Modist to HeadFlyer, lots of breweries and coffee shops in the Twin Cities are family- and dog-friendly, which is great! But the rules here are the same whether we’re talking human or canine children: Don’t bring ‘em to bars, breweries, cafes, or restaurants unless they’re socialized, well behaved, and comfortable in a crowded public setting. And if your fur/flesh baby starts freaking out, it doesn’t matter how “well behaved” they usually are—you gotta get ‘em outta there. Everyone else’s leisure time is not your teaching moment.
23. Oh, and also, leash your pup unless it’s an explicit off-leash area.
“Oh, don’t worry, she’s super friendly.” OK, and? Not every dog she’ll encounter is, and not every person wants your dog all in their space. We have an extensive network of off-leash dog parks where your furbaby can roam free. Otherwise? Leash up that golden retriever, Lisa.
24. Invite people—including yourself—to things.
Any transplant will tell you, the Minnesotan reticence towards new people is a real thing. But as a transplant who knows and loves many Minnesotans, I can also tell you from experience that it’s not that hard to wear ‘em down. Locals: Invite new people to things. And transplants: Invite Minnesotans to things—and also invite yourself to their things. Force your friendship on them.
25. But DO NOT invite yourself to someone’s cabin.
That’s a sacred privilege that forges an eternal bond. Not to be trifled with, or so we’re told.
26. Scored an invite? Come with the traditional offering.
Twenty-four pack of Mich Golden. Top the Tater. Old Dutch Rip-L chips, preferably the double-box configuration.
27. Irish goodbyes are just as valid as Minnesota goodbyes.
If you want to take 45 minutes to get out the door after a social gathering, that is your right. If you want to have three beers and duck out when no one’s watching? That is your far more expedient right.
How to Be a Good Neighbor
28. Don’t whine about drunk people walking home past your place at 2 a.m.
You live in Uptown/North Loop/Mac-Groveland, for fucks sake. What did you expect?
29. Don’t be a jerk in the laundry room.
Do you share a common laundry room in your apartment complex? Take your stuff out of the machines in a timely manner. Set the timer on your phone if you need to. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if you return to find some anonymous dude moved all your underwear from the dryer into your basket while you were away.
30. People are allowed to park in front of your house, you weirdo.
Particularly in south Minneapolis, there are many residents who think they are entitled to park directly in front of their home. They’re not! It’s a public city street. You can walk an extra 100 feet!
31. Don’t call in a parked car that hasn’t moved for three days unless a. it’s blocking you from accessing your alley/driveway/garage or b. you’re pretty frickin’ sure it was stolen and dumped.
And either way, make an effort to ensure it doesn’t belong to one of your neighbors first. Not everyone relies on their car every day, and if the battery has died or the car is otherwise un-driveable for a while they certainly don’t need you making their life harder.
32. If your dog barks loudly or often or incessantly enough to regularly bother more than one neighbor, you should do something about it.
If you’re so oblivious that you don’t realize that your dog barks loudly or often or incessantly enough to regularly bother more than one neighbor, you shouldn’t be living in a city.
33. A dog who barks and lunges at people as they pass when fenced in is not an OK dog to leave out unsupervised.
Google “barrier aggression!” Talk to a trainer! We live in a society!
34. NextDoor is annoying and toxic, but you should find other ways to connect with neighbors.
There are Facebook communities like Buy Nothing groups, for example, many of which have related neighborhood groups for general chatter. These groups are specifically set up to strengthen neighborhood bonds, post questions, and share news about what’s going on, not complain about youths or post racist dog whistles. Because when your cat goes missing, or you have questions about home/apartment repairs, it’s nice to have neighbors to turn to.
How to Get Around
35. If you do not have a stop sign and another car or bike does, do not wave them on.
We have traffic laws so we don’t have to improvise on the road. We know you think you’re being polite, but actually you’re just making a simple thing complicated.
36. It’s OK to teach a driver’s ed-deficient motorist “a lesson” on the highway.
When you’re stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle in the passing lane, it’s maybe not technically legal to pass on the right, then get back in the left lane and slow down to 40-30-25-whatever it takes to nudge them into their proper lane. But it’s fun! And they deserve it!
37. Never forget the lessons of Bart’s Suburban Driving School.
Even if they’re from the VHS-recorded Simpsons episodes Bart would play.
38. Respect the seasonal radio pre-sets.
KDWB during nice summer drives. KOOL 108 during the holidays. Radio K at all other times.
39. Friendly, single-hand steering wheel waves are mandatory when driving down the alley.
Even if you’ve never spoken with that neighbor.
40. Ditto while crossing paths with another boater on the lake.
It might as well be maritime law.
41. Passing another cyclist or pedestrian on the path? You should still say, “On your left!”
Only in a state this passive would you see comments about how this is rude to do. It’s not! It’s the right thing to do. Speak up, let people know you’re approaching them, and pass carefully. If you’re the one being passed, move over and don’t take it personally.
42. No leaving your car in the bike lane.
This is understandably tough for food delivery folks, Uber drivers, and anyone who needs to complete a ton of trips to earn a living—we’re willing to admit it’s bigger than an etiquette problem. But for the rest of you, it’s an etiquette problem! If you’re picking up or dropping off your friend, or running into a restaurant to get takeout, or otherwise “just pulling over for a minute or two,” don’t park in the bike lane. It’s annoying and unsafe. Find a parking space, and walk a block.
43. You can’t use “it’s hard to park there” as a reason to avoid a place.
Bikes exist. Buses exist. Rideshares exist. Feet exist. Figure it out. Sorry, but people in every other major metropolitan area are able to.
44. If your car is stolen with the keys in it, just lie and say you sold it.
I can’t believe we still have to say this.
45. Bus etiquette time! Be mindful of where you sit and put your stuff.
Unless you are elderly, disabled, or a brave (presumably miserable) parent lugging a stroller with you, leave the front side rows of the bus for those who need them. Also, your bags didn’t pay for a seat! If the bus is getting crowded, pile all your stuff on your lap and scoot over to the window seat so more people can take a load off.
46. It’s OK to talk to strangers on the bus—within reason.
Go ahead and ask other riders about routes—regulars can often help you get off at the right stop. But don’t bother folks with headphones in, or folks who are reading a book, any more than you need to. Use your context clues, people. Read that body language.
47. Say “Thank you” to your driver as you exit the bus.
It’s just a nice thing to do.
48. Headed Up North? It’s your duty to inform everyone in the vehicle that Tobies is overrated.
You can wait until Rustic Inn for a treat.
How to Winter
49. Do not park in front of the path your neighbor has shoveled to the street. Unless you’re really mad at them.
Your self-centered rudeness is no excuse for a passive-aggressive attack.
50. Nobody cares that you’re cold.
OK, maybe not nobody, but many of us have had enough of friends who complain about winter every year. Yes, we know, it’s cold and dark and often depressing. You know who else knows that—people who have never been to Minnesota! The one thing everyone knows about this place is that it’s fucking cold!
51. Occasionally shovel your neighbors’ sidewalk.
This is not only a polite gesture, but it gives you a kind of power over your neighbors that only you and they will know. You are now the better neighbor. If they retaliate by shoveling your walk, return the gesture so they don’t gain the upper hand. Repeat until death.
52. Tip more during shitty weather.
That includes Cub deliveries, Uber rides, and the Pizza Luce guy, whether it’s snowing, subzero, or pouring rain. You should be tipping well anyway, but throw a couple more dollars on if they're braving the weather so you don’t have to.
53. See a car stuck in a snowbank or spinning its wheels in your alley? Push ‘em out!
Yes, it can be tempting to roll your eyes at the poor soul in the Prius who thought they could gun it through a foot of snow in all-season tires. But you gotta guess they have somewhere they really need to be, otherwise they’d be sitting around inside, warm and cozy. Push ‘em out! You’ll need that car-ma when you’re stuck yourself someday, and besides, the sense of neighborly satisfaction is through the fuckin’ roof.
54. Scrape the snow and ice off the top of your car.
Here’s the thing: It’s going to go flying off at some point, and that point will very likely be when you’re speeding down 35W. Nobody wants to drive behind snow on the roof guy!
55. If there’s snow on the ground, assume every house is a shoes-off house.
Don’t ask. Don’t make it weird.
56. Put hand lotion out in your bathroom.
Please. Winter is so dry.
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