Rude and Deluded

Rudeness in America, as ranked by

by James A. Bacon

The jokers at, the self-described career experts, are at it again. Following the ranking they published last week that declared Virginia to be the “grossest” state in the union, they have devised a ranking of the “rudest” states. I have news for those of you who thought of Virginians as courteous and genteel, you’re deluding yourself. Virginia ranked No. 3 among the rudest states — ahead of New York!

As anyone with a lick of sense knows, it’s all due to Northern Virginia. It is obvious to me what has occurred — the rudest residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut moved to Nova, thus lowering the rudeness quotients of those states and elevating the quotient for Virginia!

I have irrefutable proof of this proposition, as I shall explain below.

Let us start by understanding how calculates rudeness. It combines metrics for rude driving, generosity of tips, cursing at customer service agents, and states’ self-evaluation for rudeness.

Rude drivers. According to Insurify, the car insurance website, Virginia has the fourth worst drivers of any state in the country. The company compares at-fault violations, including accidents, DUIs, failures to stop, speeding, reckless driving, passing violations, and other citations for illegal driving as a percentage of the number of drivers applying for car insurance.

It stands to reason that there is a strong correlation between traffic congestion and driving infractions. The Washington metro area, and Northern Virginia in particular, is afflicted with some of the worst traffic congestion in the country. Driven to madness with frustration, NoVa drivers are more likely to scream at other drivers, flip the bird, and engage in aggressive driving behavior such as weaving between lanes and cutting in front of people. One can see this behavior routinely on Interstate 95 — although, I will say in NoVa’s defense, that the worst offenders seem to have New York and New Jersey license plates!

Lousy tippers. Americans on average tip 16.4% of the check. But that average figure disguises a significant variation between the states. Outside of Hawaii, the cheapest tippers in the country are in Washington, D.C., and I’m pretty, pretty, pretty sure, as Larry David might say, that miserliness leaks across the Potomac River to Northern Virginia. The average tip, according to Time, citing data, is 14.9% in D.C., and 15.9% in Maryland and 16.0% in Virginia. All other states bordering Virginia tip more generously — 16.7% on average in North Carolina, 17% in Kentucky and 17.3% in West Virginia,

Source: by way of Time

As an interesting corollary, Business Insider conducted an analysis correlating tipping and partisan voting. It found a “moderate correlation” between a state’s election results and its propensity to tip servers. While Democrats are exceedingly generous with other peoples’ money, it seems that Republicans are more generous with their own. And we all know which part of the Virginia votes bluest, don’t we.

Source: Business Insider

Cursing at customer service reps. Zippia also draws upon a ranking based upon the proclivity of people to curse customer service representatives on complaint lines. The report drew from 35 million transcripts of chats with customers of companies like Adobe, Citibank, SBC and Home Depot. LivePerson, which provides live chat technology, tallied “polite” words and “curse” words, differentiating between soft curses such as “shoot” or “shucks” compared to hard curses using profanity, explains InsideHook. Virginia customers are the most likely in the country to use curse words.

The Old Dominion’s saving grace is that fact that Virginia customers are more likely to use soft curses than profanities. I’ve got to say, if Virginians express their irritability by saying “shucks” and “shoot” a lot, I really can’t hold that against them.

Reputation. Finally, cites a YouGov survey that asked, “Do you think that people in your state tend to be more rude or more polite than most Americans?” Admittedly, YouGov was, in effect, asking people to rank their own state, not other states. In other words, the survey reflects self-image.

As a generality, respondents tend rate their own states as more polite on average than other states. YouGov calculated the difference between “more polite” and “more rude” responses to get a net score.

Hawaiians may be lousy tippers, but they gave themselves a net 50% positive score. At the opposite extreme, Massachusetts residents make no pretense. They know they’re rude, giving themselves a net 31% negative score.

In our neck of the woods, there is a clear gradient — 8% negative politeness in D.C., 2% negative in Maryland, 9% positive in Virginia, 25% positive in North Carolina, and 27% in South Carolina. It’s a pretty safe bet that there’s a dramatic dividing line for politesse at the Rappahannock River. Northern Virginians are more akin to their D.C., and Maryland neighbors, while RoVa residents are more like their Carolina peers to the south.

Taking all factors into consideration, I’d say that Northern Virginia is comparable in rudeness to Northeastern states, while the Rest of Virginia is more like its southern neighbors. So, yes, I blame it all on NoVa.

If you don’t agree with my analysis, you can go f— yourself!

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13 responses to “Rude and Deluded”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    best blog post ever……… 😉

  2. I’m sure the assessment of NoVa and DC drivers as being rude and incompetent are accurate. Georgetown is the only place where I have had someone parallel parking behind me shear off my driver side mirror – and then leave without claiming any responsibility.

    Part of it is that people from all over the country, and the world, end up in DC and its suburbs, having never seen a traffic circle and having grown up with different traffic rules.

    But some of it must be because the area is full of people who are sure of their own importance. That might explain the common practice of speeding up when someone ahead of you signals an intention to change lanes, in order to cut them off and make sure they won’t get in front of you.

    I am a little curious about the math used in the tipping table. If people all tip 20% on the pre-tax bill (which is what I do for good but unexceptional service, though I also tend to round it to an even amount), but different states have different tax rates, and then the tabulator used the post-tax bill for their calculations, the results do not measure the generosity of the diners in the same way they may intend.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I will flat not tip poor service – but on the whole I tip well and better than well sometimes if the waiter is attentive and works to make sure everyone has what they want.

      I’m a little doubtful about the GOP tipping well because most Conservatives I know are damn tight with their money…

      It’s true, for whatever reason, Woman can be rude and mean when it comes to tipping. Something about the waiters are not doing anything more than what they do at home and they don’t get tipped for that…


      1. Anecdotally wait staff seem to think women tip worse than men. I think I have also heard that elderly people – especially Depression era – tip worse than middle aged people. I suspect you could do a search and find studies that correlate it with political affiliation, region, race, and everything else.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          Oh I have and they seem to think GOP men tip better…. maybe so… I’ve not seen one do that… In fact, they tend to order the cheapest things on the menu and some still use change purses and count coins when they pay! GEEZE!

      2. I thought I remembered this study: Republicans tip better than Democrats. Also men tip better than women. Also people using a credit card (or debit card?) tip better than people who use cash.

  3. dick dyas Avatar
    dick dyas

    Don’t forget Charlottesville!

  4. DJRippert Avatar

    All the more reason for Northern Virginia to join DC and the Maryland suburbs in becoming the 51st state.

    We’all would hate to have you’all thinkin’ us’all are marring the stellar reputation you’all think you enjoy with them’all across this’all country.

    The Stooges had Richmond pegged back in 1946.

  5. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Years ago a colleague and I had lunch at a self-advertised “New York Style Deli” in Hampton, Va. We ordered sandwiches and waited, waited, waited… eventually the owner showed up with the order and proceeded to blame my friend for the confusion in the kitchen with how he placed his order.

    My friend quipped something like, “Well, you need to work on the food quality, but you’ve got New York Deli rude pegged.”

    As an aside on your assessment of the “Northeast”, I will stack Boston against any of the places you could name from the rural South for friendliness, except when approaching a traffic circle or any merging situation in which case you should never make eye contact with other drivers. They take it as a sign of weakness and they will eat you.

  6. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

    The rudeness data probably means liberals are rude and rural Virginians probably account for the bad Driving data.

    Interesting to note the “Mason Bacon” line of rudeness stops at North Carolina.

  7. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “The average tip, according to Time, citing data, is 14.9% in D.C., and 15.9% in Maryland and 16.0% in Virginia. All other states bordering Virginia tip more generously”

    So you are saying you consider DC to be a “state” then…?

    Btw, what is the R^2 on that Business Insider graph?

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