Actually I am an Iowan — born and raised. Don’t worry. You’ll see where I’m going.
This past weekend, my wife and I traveled to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to see a stage show at the Washington Pavillion. Now, I’m not embarrassed to tell you, I don’t like city traffic. I don’t like merging into tight spaces. I don’t like people exceeding the speed limit by 15 miles per hour. I don’t like a lot of things about it. Courtesy seems to go out the window once there are six lanes for some reason.
As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” So, I did my best to merge without ample space, speed and have minimal common courtesy. To help myself along, I began to utter the phrase, “I’m not an Iowan” out loud. It worked fairly well.
I saw a car coming up in the lane I wanted to be in: “I’m not an Iowan.” I would normally wait for these five cars to pass before turning right on red: “I’m not an Iowan.” That light just turned yellow: “I’m not an Iowan.”
Thankfully, by the later evening hours, the traffic wasn’t so bad and I could return to my normal corn-fed self.
The next day, as some of you may know, was an annual holiday celebrated by fans of sequential art and saddle stapled paperbacks. Since May 6 was the first Saturday in May, that made it Free Comic Book Day. Yes, it’s a thing. Yes, you get free comics. Yes, it generally works out well for comic shop owners. So, being a saddle staple enthusiast myself, I ventured into Rainbow Comics and Cards while I was in Sioux Falls.
Ironically, I was met with an entirely different traffic jam. It was actually the largest comic book shop I’d ever been to and there were lines weaving their way through the store like it was a game of centipede – people who show up for Free Comic Book Day would like that comparison. Like I said, it was a whole other traffic jam for me. But this time, they were my kind of people.
Now, I didn’t start saying, “I’m a comic book fan” out loud. It would have been a bit superfluous at that point. Rather, I was simply satisfied by the cordial behavior I saw. Employees actively asked if customers had any questions: “These are comic book people.” Patrons made room for someone approaching from either side: “These are comic book people.” Phrases like, “Excuse me,” and “Oh, I’m sorry about that,” could be heard when someone bumped into someone else: “These are comic book people.” I actually stood in line for about 10 minutes or so, just to pay for my items, but I didn’t hear anyone complain. In fact, the staff actually thanked everyone for braving the line.
I’ve written about how Free Comic Book Day can be a microcosm of society. This time around, I saw it as a place people can belong and where people are friendly.
So much so that it causes the most delightful traffic jam I’ve ever been a part of.