In town the other day, I was behind a pickup at a stop light. The pickup had a Nebraska license plate and one of those oval place abbreviation stickers. Instead of NEB, it said UP. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve seen a NEB oval sticker. Not because there are no beautiful places in Nebraska. There are many. Maybe because people from the middle of the country either want to have to explain that or don’t want to hear comments like ‘I spent a week in Nebraska one afternoon.” Pass-through tourism generates quite a bit of revenue for towns along the main routes, but destination tourisms is at best a niche market in the plains. Some people I knew in Kansas liked the idea that I-70 just squirted people through and we did not have to cater to tourist whims. And we gloated about the little secret we knew about great places to go.
The driver of that truck at the stop light was no Yooper wannabe. On the back window was another sticker declaring “Yoosta be a Yooper.” I think it was said wistfully not as something he was able to overcome.
I’m sure he has to explain to others back in Nebraska a.) why he’d have a sticker that says ‘up’ (some kind of new age positivism message?) and b.) what the heck is a yooper?