The Power of Sticking Out Like a Sore Thumb

South Dakota, you may know, is not New York or Connecticut.  For one, the roads are straighter and longer.  “Close” in New York is 5 streets or 2 avenues away; in Connecticut it is anything less than 5 miles away.  In South Dakota, “close” is anything under a 2 hour drive. 

And the people are very chatty.  You can’t order a cup of coffee without 2 minutes of chitchat about the weather, where you come from, or the Sturgis Rally.  Worse still, I keep ordering these wacky Northeast beverages, like “seltzer” and “unsweetened ice tea.”  I even ordered hot tea after dinner by specifying that I want it without milk, which my local guide informed me is like ordering tea without mayonnaise.

Yes, I am a Connecticut Yankee in the Old West.  And I am laying it on as thick as I can! 

I am wearing suits and heels to factory visits, I am studiously not bumping up my hair, and I am specially requesting entrees that do feature meat of some kind (to some seriously quizzical looks, btw).

Why?  Because as long as I am “other,” I am an unknown quantity.  No one’s got my number and no one knows quite how to play me. 

I considered whether my purposes in South Dakota would be better served by fitting in or sticking out.  I’ve written before about the challenges of practicing law in a small bar, where everyone knows you and knows your playbook.  But even assuming I could fake the cowgirl or biker ethoi (ethoses? ethosamajigs?) that predominate the region, being cooperative to a fault will not help my client.  And I gots to do what is in my client’s best interest. 

Anyway, a fringed leather halter and chaps is not a good look for me.  Uptight Connecticut lawyer it is!

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