Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another Sign that Your Small Town is No Longer Small

I was in need of cash after having handed out all of mine to my kids for gas, lunches, and cab fare, and I had a small shopping list that couldn't wait until the weekend, so I forced a lunch break from work to make a "quick" trip to the market. First off, there is no such thing as a quick trip to the market when you live in a town in which the majority of the population consists of senior citizens.

I hate to be pushy and rush people to make their selections, or reach over or across them to get what I need, so each time that I came across a display surrounded by indecisive, slow-moving people, I kept going and made a mental note to return to that shelf later on when it isn't so popular. As a result, my "quick" shopping trip for 10 items or less took up my entire hour lunch break. I made four trips across the length of the store to get everything I needed.

However, indecisive, slow-moving people are really not a sign that your small town is no longer small. The sign that I'm talking about his honking, and lots of it. As soon as I got out into the market parking lot to load my groceries into my trunk, I heard honking. Some were light toots to say hello to people, others were lean on the horn angry wails at those who did not yield the right of way. Some were honks from people locking and unlocking their doors, others were honks to get other drivers to pay attention. I was literally hearing a honk every 5 seconds!

At one point this driver in a huge SUV pulled partially away from the curve, spotted someone she knew, rolled down her window and started talking to the pedestrian. Mind you that this was right in the middle of the main drive through the parking lot. The SUV was on an angle blocking both lanes. Other drivers were driving up over the curb onto the sidewalk to get around this woman's vehicle. People kept tooting at her, but she ignored them and continued her conversation. Finally, someone blared out a big, long angry honk, but it had no effect. At that point I yelled at the woman, "WHAT THE HELL?!?"

Though I don't care for noise pollution and I moved out to this rural community 20 years ago for some peace and quiet, those drivers certainly did have good reason to be honking. In this case I blamed the two people engaged in the conversation for disrupting the peace.

There was a time just a few years ago when I was hearing honking on the curves near my home on a regular basis. The reason for this was that the people who have lived here a long time were used to traffic being light, so they got into the habit of driving in the oncoming lane while swinging around curves. As traffic increased, so did the likelihood that another vehicle would actually be coming around the curve in the opposite direction.

There were a lot of accidents as well as horn honking on both corners until this community was trained to stay in their own lane. Now I don't hear honking on those corners as much, but I do hear engine sounds all day long. In fact, while I was feeding the horses their lunch, some old truck backfired while driving past my house and sent my horses off into a stampede. I believe I let out an expletive at that too. All this traffic noise is turning me into a foul-mouthed nervous wreck. I'm still searching for the next small town, though I know that once I move there, I'll be contributing to increasing its population. Finding peace, quiet, and privacy is a bit of a Catch 22.


Dan and Betty Cooksey said...

I think everyone looks for their 'perfect' place -- however that's defined. When we find it, we want everyone else to stay away. Of course, those who were there before us said the same thing about us. When we moved into our home here in New Mexico we were the fifth house in the area with lots of open space around us. Now there are more houses -- less than what would have been here if the housing market had not slowed down -- but we have good, understanding neighbors. And we still have open space where we can ride our horses. So, it may not be perfect, but it's still home.

That was kind of rambling and I'm not sure what my point was, but that's not new for me.


The D-Meister said...

It doesn't count nearly as much if you blend in with the small town, peace and quiet lifestyle.

Jan's Place USA and Mt Forest Pictures said...

Amen sister, when you find that town, email me. I want to move there too!

Shirley said...

Ah, Nuz Muz, you'd like it here. I live on a dead end road! Nearest neighbors are over half a mile away. There are some guys who rent the big shop on the property, but they mind their own business, not mine.
Town people are the same no matter what size your town is; so it's all about compromise and learning to be patient.

Breathe said...

I keep hearing that people are fleeing small towns, and yet, here they all keep coming! Weird.

fernvalley01 said...

I hear you about the horns!Very irritating. yeesh Ok already we know the horn works ,try the lights!

Leah Fry said...

I agree with D-Meister. I'm okay with more people so long as they are here to embrace the lifestyle. not change it into where they came from, which is usually the noisy suburbs.

Cheryl Ann said...

My town is a "resort" town and we get overrun by Canadians and people from the Midwest every winter. THEY are already here. Yes, they clog our streets, drive slowly, and drive us full-time desert dwellers CRAZY! The parking lot at Trader Joe's is the WORST!!! I hear 'ya!

jane augenstein said...

So sorry the place you live is so noisy and nosey! It's really quiet where I live; on our road of maybe 8 miles there are 10 houses. We have 40 acres, our closest neighbor is at least a football field away. I can see my neighbor on the other side, two football fields away, no kids on this road. Normally there are not more then 8 cars or trucks that go by in a days time. I am so thankful we live in the sticks!!! Hope you can find a place like this to settle your frayed nerves!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

How annoying. I rarely ever use my horn because I think it's rude and should only be used for the night I tried to wake up Rojo's owner when I found Rojo with a broken leg. I sat on the horn with all my strength that night.

But basically, I just let things slide, like the slow folks and even the rude people oblivious to the world around them. I'm never really in a big hurry anymore ever since I've simplified my life.

The builder who built our neighborhood seemed to want to make it a suburb with homeowner's rules and regulations, but most of the folks living here seem to have moved here to live a more rural lifestyle and don't pay those rules and regulations any mind.

Our planned neighborhood is surrounded by other homes, that have livestock and chickens, so everyone is used to hearing their noises.

Our neighborhood's rules state that we can only have two horses, but one neighbor has three horses, while another has four. Noone really minds as long as the horses are cleaned up after and aren't a nuisance.

I was told by one neighbor that before we bought our house, the county offered to pave our road with asphalt and almost everyone voted against that option to preserve the rural feeling and to not have the county claiming our neighborhood for maintenance and such.

I'm glad to live in a neighborhood that values it's independance, rural lifestyle and privacy.