Top 10 Acts of Montana Hospitality

Christopher Dyrland-Marquis

Big Sky Country is a unique land of rugged scenes, but its people are even more inspiring! Small town attitudes across the state (and maybe all that cold weather) generate special kinships between residents, facilitating kind practices that Montanans give and receive to lean on each other for support. If you happen to experience any of the selfless gestures on this list, be sure to pay it forward to continue our great, Montana way of life!

Passerby Say Hello
Sometimes, you just need a friendly face. What better place to find one than the smiling pedestrians who pass you on the street? Most everyone is sure to give you a smile, nod, and kind word as they walk by, and the bold ones may even stop to ask you how you’re doing! Such close-knit communities are great for forming lasting friendships. If you’ve ever had a bad day, take a walk, and you are sure to feel comforted by the wonderful people around you.

Locals Open Doors for You
Some will say it’s manners, but others will do it just because they love the warm, tingling sensation that arises out of making someone’s day just a little bit brighter. Regardless of what reason, Montanans will seldom allow anyone to pass through the threshold of a public venue without an attempt to make you feel welcome. But, be careful! If you happen to take one of us out of state, we will likely find ourselves stuck, holding a door open for throngs of a crowd, for who knows how long!

Directions are only a Question Away
The Treasure State is a big place (I’m pretty sure that’s a direct quote from Lewis and Clark). It’s easy to get lost around the numerous, quiet backroads and scenic drives. While most of the state now supports technological navigation from an array of map apps, getting lost can still be common. Luckily, not only will most anyone be perfectly happy to help you find what you’re looking for, you may find yourself experiencing an impromptu dinner pitch: offering you custom (even hand-drawn) directions to your destination, the best burger in town, and three of the cheapest nearby gas stations.

Spilled Items Gather Helping Hands
If you’ve ever stood in line holding groceries for extended periods of time, chances are you might have dropped a thing or two. No embarrassment hits quite like the foolishness you feel as you try to pick up the eight sticks of beef jerky and four cans of root beer that you thought you could juggle in your arms. Luckily, almost everyone in the state has been in your position! It is unusual to see anyone dropping anything without a few witnesses to crouch down and help pick things up. Many hands make for light work, and residents don’t seem to mind helping at all.

Shopping Ties Go to the Runner
Have you ever rushed to get into the check-out line of a store with your items before the dinner rush, only to find that you weren’t alone, and are racing the customers next to you? Well, often, there’s no need to worry in Montana. Should you get into a line at the same time as someone else, most people gesture you to go ahead of them—either noting how little you have to scan, or how they are in no hurry. The sleepy pace of our local shoppers sets a comfortable tone, making any purchasing in the state a relaxing and therapeutic affair.

Coffee Junkies Pay for Others
Perhaps the most delightful characteristic of Montana’s close-knit communities takes shape around the fragrant drive-thru lines of its local coffee shops. This surprise won’t reveal itself until you are fully prepared to pay for your order, and often waits for moments that you least expect. However, nothing beats the feeling of hearing an employee say that the vehicle ahead of you has paid for your order. Now, you could accept this gift, and enjoy the generosity of your neighbors, but be sure to think about paying it forward and buying the next order!

Drivers Return Road Waves
Visitors may be struck by the amount of hospitality that they experience on any road trip through Montana, and it’s easy to see why: you can’t even escape it on our public highways! Passing by most traffic, you can generally tell who is from a small town by the acknowledgment and courteous wave they give you as they drive by. If this makes you a bit uncomfortable, be sure to stay away from gravel roads: the ones from really small towns tend to enjoy friendly and sustained eye contact.

Motorists Help with Winter Jumps
When winter returns in full force to the state, sub-zero temperatures often ravage the population indiscriminately. Many vehicles have their car batteries drained by frigid conditions, and for those who have lived in Montana long, one or two unpleasant experiences in being stranded are all but certain. In the spirit of community, most local travelers are more than willing to pop their hood to jumpstart a cold car, and may even provide their own jumper cables if you happen to forget yours! However, you should ensure to have a pair stored in your vehicle just to be safe.

Trucks are Ready to Give a Tow
With heavy snowfall comes an inevitable, annual event: the slipping and sliding of vehicles on unavoidable ice. As a result, many get stuck in snow berms and drifts, and it is common to see a friendly neighbor in their favorite truck helping to pull the lodged party free. No one likes being stuck at the side of the road, and many have been placed in such a position before. It is encouraging to know that local residents often keep an eye out for those in trouble, and lend a helping hand if it’s needed.

Inclement Weather Breeds Concern
If Montana is known for anything, it is being a land of extremes. Weather can change on a dime, temperatures can soar and plummet, and the distances between towns can be enough to find yourself in trouble if you aren’t careful. Most residents know this and often keep their eyes peeled for anyone who looks like they’re in dire straits. If a local thinks you might be in over your head, expect them to offer a ride into town, a bit of help fixing engine troubles, or a phone call you might need to place. While you might have to suffer through a small bit of goodhearted jibing, Montana’s good samaritans are sure to ensure that you won’t be at the mercy of its extreme environment.

The kind practices that Montanans enjoy arise out of a collective duty to all of our surrounding neighbors, friends and communities. For anyone wishing to take part in this wonderful reciprocation, all that is required is a willingness to embrace the state’s courtesies, and do what you are able when you can. Advancing the way of life that Montanans hold dear helps us all to support one other while creating a compassionate culture that advocates for our wellbeing. It’s up to all of us to ensure that Big Sky Country remains a golden example of being the last, truly best place.

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