Attention, hipsters! I have fantastic news. I went away for the weekend, and there’s something you ought to know.
It turns out, friendliness and hipsterism are NOT mutually exclusive. And I have proof. There is a place in the world where the hipsters are friendly. Where they greet anyone with a smile and make small talk. It’s in Lawrence, Kansas, where an unlikely subculture of happy hipsters thrives.
So when I buy a record, a t-shirt, or a cup of coffee from you in Chicago, you don’t have to be standoffish! You don’t have to respond with annoyed disbelief when I ask your opinion about the menu. You don’t have to return my smile with a stare of practiced indifference. You can totally be nice.
Here are some examples from the happy hipsters of Lawrence, KS. Think of these as a sort of “how-to” guide.
Example 1: Saturday breakfast at Wheatfield’s Bakery
Me: [awkwardly wielding iPhone camera as hipster bread boy looks on nervously] I’m sorry, you don’t need to be in this. I just want a picture of this wall of bread behind you.
[Hipster bread boy scooches uncertainly out of frame.]
Me: Thanks, sorry about that. [scooching away to my table, ashamed] Erin, I think the hipster bread boy hates me. [Erin shrugs.]
[Five minutes later, back at the counter to buy cookies]
Me: Hi again. Can I get two almond macaroons, please?
Hipster Bread Boy: [smiling] Did your picture blow up on Twitter yet? [smiles bigger]
Me: What? Oh! Um, yeah, totally did. Blew up all over the place! Haha.
Hipster Bread Boy: It is a very aesthetically pleasing wall of bread.
Me: Yeah! So pretty.
Example 2: Saturday night, counter service at The Burger Stand
Me: I was going to get the Cod Po Boy, but would that be a mistake? What would you get?
Hipster Cashier: No! It wouldn’t be a mistake!
Me: OK… Hm. I’ve never been here before, so I want to get what’s good.
Hipster Cashier: The Po Boy is good, and the spicy shitake mushroom burger is really good too.
Me: That does sound good… I don’t know! You pick for me!
Hipster Cashier: [laughs] OK, here, this piece of paper is the mushroom burger. [puts it behind her back] Which hand is it in? This is how I make all my decisions.
Me: [pointing] That one!
Hipster Cashier: [revealing the paper] OK! Mushroom burger it is.
[laugher and smiles by all]
This is how it was all over town. In a boutique the hipster store clerk chatted with us about Zelda and junior high fashion. In the cupcake shop we gushed about the chocolate cayenne cupcake with the hipster baker. It was like the Twilight Zone. Or Pleasantville. I asked Erin, “What is up with Lawrence? Why are all the hipsters so nice?” She chalked it up to friendly Midwestern sensibilities.
Maybe. Maybe it’s because Lawrence is a small town and hipsters don’t have to work so hard to prove their hipsterness. Whatever it is, it was a breath of fresh air. A cool glass of water on a hot day. A smile from a hipster is like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. It’s the Grinch returning gifts to the Who’s in Whoville.
I don’t know why Chicago hipsters aren’t friendly. But I do know, whether you’re a hipster or not, it’s nice to be nice to people. Even if they don’t have a mustache. And it’s extra nice when someone is nice back to you. Especially when they do have a mustache. Like the happy hipsters of Lawrence, Kansas.