I have lived in a small town for approximately 25 years, give or take a few years. I have a love-hate relationship with it. I have the best of both worlds when it comes to the difference between city and country. I am able to maintain a nice garden, and a flock of backyard chickens. But it still comes with annoying neighbors, municipal corruption, and other things that make city life in general somewhat intolerable. I have compiled a list of three things that I have gotten sick of hearing.
Rumors and Gossip About Myself and My Family and Other People
Small town residents can be a vicious and downright nasty lot when you get right down to it. I think rumors and gossip happen just about anywhere in the world, but it is more noticeable in small towns because the lack of quality entertainment, places of amusement, or places to shop causes people to fabricate stuff out of sheer boredom. Some of the things I have heard about myself have made me laugh. Some of the things I have heard about myself have even been shocking.
I think the most disgusting one I had heard about me personally is in regards to the house I used to live in. I will admit, it was not in the best of shape but it was all I had and I could not really afford to fix it up or move. To me, it was a blessing and a curse. I was glad to have it because it was a step above what many people have, but at the same time, I wanted out from under it. And once I got out from under it, it still comes back to bite me in the rear end. The final decision to get rid of it, was when the mayor himself told me he was concerned because he knew my mother died in that house and wasn’t discovered for a while. I was like, “hold up just a minute here. She had lung cancer from over 40 years of smoking, she lived with me in the house I currently rent, and she died at a Tulsa hospital. Where did you hear that nonsense?”
He wouldn’t tell me.
I take a lot of rumors and gossip that people try to tell me with a grain of salt. I really don’t want to know if the school principal is seeing the school nurse behind the curtains of the high school auditorium within earshot of the kindergarten class during lunch time. And I don’t want to know even if it is true. It’s not my business. Personally my life is not truly that interesting. If you read my byline and bio you pretty much have my entire life figured out. I share lots of things on Facebook too but there are many more things I pretty much keep to myself and that’s how it’s going to stay. I guess if a person has to make something up, they truly are bored. It’s just too bad a person who feels compelled to gossip doesn’t concentrate that energy and time into something more constructive like writing books or something. (And I don’t mean tell-alls either.)
Information About Where I Live From People Who Do Not Live Here or Who Have Never Been Here.
I think this one annoys me more than any other one. And what’s worse, people who have never been here and don’t know the general geographical area try to argue with me about it.
Here are a few examples.
A friend was going to visit. She had someone else tell her to just bring an Amtrak train here. I told her that was all well and good but at the time, the closest Amtrak came to here was Topeka, Kansas. So I mentioned that we’d then have to figure out from there, how to get my friend here from Topeka if she did that route. First the lady who suggested that we use Amtrak insisted that it came right through here. (This town has no train tracks running through it.) Then when I finally convinced the lady of that, she suggested I just call a Greyhound bus. Same problem: Greyhound has no station here, and the nearest one was in Joplin, Missouri. I would still have to figure out how to get her here from there, which was about an hour’s drive. Again, the lady insisted that there had to be a bus stop closer than that. I should know, I have had to use Greyhound myself a few times and had to get there. As it turned out, my friend flew into Tulsa and then she took a cab here from there, at a cost of about $200.
I also have a friend who lives in a northern state wonder why it’s such a big deal when I talked about snow. Snow is something she takes for granted. She has it a lot. We get pretty cold here but being in the south, don’t get as much snow. When we do, we get excited.
I had a friend get online and order from Pizza Hut once. She ordered me a pizza as a surprise. She asked me about thirty minutes later, if I got my surprise. Me: What surprise? She was shocked that they did not deliver from our local restaurant. They just don’t. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that there are so many dirt and back roads, and the town is so small, it’s easier to just go there ourselves. I can ride my bicycle there in less than ten minutes. And I did just that: rode up there and picked up the pizza myself on my bike.
People are also in disbelief when they are told we don’t have a movie theater, and that I don’t get to see movies until or unless they are released to DVD, that our Walmart closes at 9 pm and is not a Supercenter, that we don’t have very many choices of fast food places (McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Sonic, and Subway. That’s it!), cab service, or public transportation. Convenience stores close at 10 pm. Just because they stay open all night in big cities, there is not much of a point in it when there are about 2200 people and most of them live out in the middle of nowhere. I have also explained until I am blue with many people that this town does not have a hospital. The nearest one is 15 miles away. So I cannot just go to the ER unless I find someone willing to take me that distance.
References to Mayberry or Hazzard County
While it does seem like we do live there at times, it really is a stale joke. Sometimes we do have inept police officers and city officials and it can be very much like these fictional TV places to live in small towns. In fact it really is like that, but it gets to the point where I hear it so much, I want to just strangle the next person who brings up a Barney Fife joke.
However you slice it, there are things I never get tired of hearing: local soldiers returning home, local school children accomplishing great things like the honor roll, or winning awards at the county fair, friendly banter over a game of checkers at a local tire shop, Cherokee people conversing at the grocery store in Cherokee. And local events where kids can benefit (last year my son won an expensive bicycle), festivals, and special events do happen once in a while. We highly honor our veterans and have a parade for just about every occasion. And there are many great people that make up the town, even if they do sometimes gossip.