Lutheran Standoff Defined

Minnesota speak

Lutheran Standoff

noun: Loo-ther-an standoff

For evidence of this phenomenon, visit its epicenter—Northfield, Minnesota—where the four-way stops can sometimes move as slowly as traffic lights. Or glaciers. It is an awkward, maddening vehicular dance that completely ignores right-of-way and which driver actually got to the intersection first. One car—usually a beige Buick—will nudge forward, then heavily brake. Then another car—perhaps a beige Impala—will stutteringly progress and halt. And back and forth they go, an inch at a time. The drivers all simultaneously flutter their hands. “No, you go,” the beige Buick says. “No, you go,” the beige Impala says. “Please, I insist—you go.” “Oh, I couldn’t possibly go—because you should go.” No one honks, even if the traffic is backed up 20 cars in every direction, but a few people might whisper, “Darn it,” under their breath.