What it Means to Live in a Small Town

Living in a small town means:

  • If you forget to tip your waitress, you drive back to the restaurant and do so.
  • If you take a sick day, you’d better be sick, and you’d better stay home. If you don’t, everyone will know.
  • You don’t have to lock your car. If someone steals it, everyone else will know who did it.
  • Police officers have a difficult time making friends, because if they showed favoritism to everyone they knew — no one would get speeding tickets.
  • Everybody knows your business. Everybody.
  • The only comfortable way to buy condoms, feminine products, or adult diapers is through the self checkout. Before that technology, it was either awkward or you drove to the next town.
  • You buy groceries locally, even though it costs a bit more. Because you know the owners, and they are good and honest people.
  • Everyone knows who gives the good candy at Halloween.
  • If you run out of a prescription, the local pharmacist will give you a few pills while they wait for the doctor to call in the refill. Even if the prescription is outdated. UPDATE: I don’t mean any controlled substances here, strictly things like blood pressure meds.
  • Fundraisers work. And you buy more candy, knick-knacks, and pizza kits than you’d ever need. Because it is benefiting the local school kids.
  • Phrases like, “I’ll have the regular” really works at restaurants.
  • School pride is a town-wide phenomenon.
  • The librarian knows what sorts of books you enjoy, and will offer some useful advice on new reads.
  • If your dog, cat, or child run away from home, someone will bring them back to you.
  • If you get fired for doing something stupid — it’s hard to get another job, because everyone knows the stupid thing you did.
  • Checking candy at Halloween is a lot less stressful. Sure, you still throw away the cupcakes from old weird Harriot, but not because they’re poisoned, rather because she’s really weird and put unwrapped cupcakes in your kid’s bags.
  • People attend high school sporting events. Lots of people.
  • If someone breaks down on the side of the road, you stop to help them. Even if it means you get dirty, are late to work/church/school, or aren’t dressed for the task.

That’s just off the top of my head. Feel free to add more.

10 thoughts on “What it Means to Live in a Small Town”

  1. The only comfortable way to buy condoms, feminine products, or adult diapers is through the self checkout. Before that technology, it was either awkward or you drove to the next town.

    I have to purchase two of the three (and not the fun one) and you get over being embarrassed really quickly.

  2. You have a shady pharmacist. Giving away controlled substances will land you in jail SO fast

    Also I had 2 small town moments lately. I lost my Drivers license and some other stuff, and apparently I dropped it in a parking lot a restaurant, and the next day my ex-girlfriend told me she found it in the parking lot.

    Also yesterday, in my parking lot, a car left it’s lights on, so I opened their doors, and turned them off for them. Only in a small town would someone leave their car unlocked, and someone else would open the door just to turn their lights off.

    Last, yesterday, the car next to me in the Wal-Mart parking lot, had a 10$ bill laying on top of the center console, and I looked, and the doors were unlocked.

  3. Ryder: Not controlled substances, because yes, that’s just silly on many levels. But blood pressure medicine, etc. And the asthma story is true. But because he knows my daughter and our family, knew it was on the up and up. (Again, not a controlled substance)

  4. Here everybody brings thing to the radio station because they have “Personal and Emergency Messages” reading several times a day that will report things lost and found.

  5. Whenever I take out a Tech Scout, we have to stop for lunch somewhere along the way, and since there are usually at least 20 people, I set it up somewhere in advance. I’m the one who pays for it out of petty cash.

    Obviously, you never include the tax when you’re figuring out what the tip should be, but once, I added the tip to the pre-tax amount and then forgot to add back in the tax…which meant I left a tip of about 75ยข for a party of 20. D’oh! I called them when I realized my error and went back the next day with the appropriate $30.

    And we once had a car that was ready for retirement (and had no trade-in value). We called it the albatross. I started leaving it unlocked on the street with the windows open and the keys in plain sight…on the seat, in the ignition, on the dashboard. Nobody would steal the thing. We had to pay someone to take it away.

  6. Rarely do you see a list this long and agree with everything on it. I grew up in a small town too (<5k) and every single thing you listed is also true in my hometown. Except I never got cupcakes for Halloween.

    Living in a small town is both simple, and complicated. It makes life simple that everyone knows your dogs and brings them back to you when they run away (our hunting dogs do this from time to time), but small towns also make things complicated because everyone knows your business, even when it isn’t your business, and you have to be so careful about what you say to whom. It’s really easy to know who your friends are though.

    The pharmacy thing is so true though, and it is great to be able to trust everyone you know (to the guy who suggested your pharmacist is shady, I disagree). Businesses in small towns have no choice but to be honest, otherwise they are out of business in no time.

  7. Cory: Depending on when you read the post, I actually had (2) things about the pharmacy up originally. Since not everyone lives in a small town, I actually took the second one down so they didn’t get investigated. Sometimes doing the right thing is punished, and I’d hate for my blog to be a reason for it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And no, they’re not shady in the least. In fact, quite the opposite.

  8. When you call your doctor’s office and they recognize your voice, you chit chat with the receptionist (who you’ve known since she was born) and can get the doctor to give you a prescription without going in, because he’s been your doctor for 20 years and knows you know what’s going on.

    Just another example….

  9. Most of the time I don’t miss small town living. Some if it is a trade off though.

    I can pick from a list of restaurants if I don’t want to cook.

    I never get held up for 20 minutes because someone wants to know how my parents are doing.

    Nobody randomly asks me for computer advice when I’m trying to pump gas or buy groceries.
    (switching to Linux also helped)

    On a day like to today I do miss it though. I’m trying to get my street light changed because it burnt out. Where I used to live the township clerk is also the hardware store owner. I could have just gone and asked him and it would get done. Instead I keep getting put on hold, disconnected or dumped to the wrong voice mail box.


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