I think Iowa should change its nickname from “The Hawkeye State.”
Now, I know that is an extremely sacrilegious thing to say to Iowans, but hear me out. “Hawkeye State” is a one-of-a-kind name and is the signature symbol of this state — unless you’re a Cyclone fan — but, in my opinion, it doesn’t do enough to describe the people of this state.
My general impressions of the people in this state have been overwhelmingly positive. People have been kind, respectful, extremely helpful, and pretty open minded. Its been very refreshing; I almost feel like I live in one of those perfect towns you saw in in 1950s and 1960s television shows.
I mean come on, we have a Dollar Tree here!
Before I offer up my suggestion for a new state nickname, I’d like to share a few of my experiences so far in Iowa. The first time I came here to apartment hunt I was feeling defeated because every complex in town was closed for the holidays.
I told my story to a cashier at Casey’s and she made a few calls right then and there and got me the personal cell phone number of a complex manager in town. A little bit after that my waitress at Montana Mike’s also gave me the personal cell phone number of her landlord.
I called that landlord, who showed me several of her properties within an hour of my call. That was amazing to me. And although I passed on all the properties she showed me, it was pretty nice that she came out from a distance on the snowy roads to show them to me.
I eventually settled for a place where my current landlord approved me that day and even told me how much he looked forward to reading my work in the paper.
Fortunately for me, these displays of kindness weren’t due just to the holiday spirit. People around here just seem to be truly good natured. People have been willing to let me into their lives and homes — with open hearts and minds — so that I can write their stories.
I’ve had conversations at Subway about Furby. I have had cookies brought to me at work. People have invited me to visit their churches. And, a wonderful couple hosted me in their home for Inauguration Night coverage.
Vietnam veterans have invited my co-workers and I out to dinner, and not only picked up the tab, but gave us a standing ovation for our weekly veteran stories, as well. Men and women who sacrificed for the greater good of all Americans were actually applauding us. Wow.
But that kind nature didn’t stopped there.
I got caught in a snowdrift the other day, and after 10 minutes of squealing my tires, a women handed me a shovel before I could even ring her doorbell to ask for one. As I was shoveling out my car, another gentleman pulled over and offered to help.
He pushed my car out as I drove it out the drift. And just like that he was gone with a wave and the honk of his horn.
It’s almost surreal, and I haven’t even been here a full month yet. I keep two folders in my email inbox; one called “Love Mail” and one called “Hate Mail.” So far, the score is Love Mail 8, Hate Mail 0. And that doesn’t count the kudos and praise that I have received just walking around town or from people that come by our office or from word-of-mouth via my co-workers.
It’s truly a blessing to be embraced by a new community so warmly and openly. But these acts of continued kindness are why I don’t think “Hawkeye State” quite does justice to the citizens of Iowa. It doesn’t convey enough about the actual citizens of the state — especially the Cyclone side of the divide — so here’s my suggestion for a new state nickname:
“Iowa: The Neighborly State.”
Staff Writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org via email.