Going from southern California to Bloomington, Illinois (population 190,000) to Flanagan, Illinois (population 1,100) has been an amusing change over the years. Never having known small town life other than when I'd stay over at friends' houses in my school years, I'd always sort of thought it would be neat to live in one. But I've quickly learned that it's easier to grow up in a small town than to move to one that you have little to no connection with. Here, everyone knows everyone (or just about). Their family. Their financial situation. Even their medical history. Some of these village folk knew who I was before I knew them. Freaky! Here are a couple of my observations & thoughts about the small town living that my husband and I have been adjusting to since moving here a year ago:
-I work at the only bank in town, so I meet a lot of interesting people. I have concluded that most of the population of Flanagan must be chain smokers. Or maybe that's just the farmers.
-Because everyone knows everyone, some also expect that you know exactly what they want when they walk into the bank. They toss a check at you without a word or leave it in the night drop without any note, assuming you'll know their account number, balance, and their precise wishes for the particular transaction. This drove me nuts for a while (how rude!), but I can appreciate the fact that these people trust their bank as family, and the bank takes good care of their "family" customers. You won't find that at Chase or Bank of America.
-People here drive tractors, golf carts, and lawn mowers around town. One lady routinely goes on a "walk" in her electric wheelchair with her small dog accompanying her in an affixed basket.
-Some of my "stranger danger" training from my youth has had to be adjusted to the way people are here. I have learned that not every man or woman who wants to know exactly which house I live in here is wanting to stalk me. They are just nosey.
While some people seem strange, others creepy, and most friendly and...well, old, I can say this:
At least everyone here waves hello at you wherever you're going. And it's nice that the UPS man brought my package to me at work when he saw I wasn't home two blocks away. The post office guy is another buddy to joke around with, and the Casey's manager often brings us free donuts at the bank. There is a dang-good pub that serves delicious & cheap burgers, and a grocery store that, while I would only shop there under dire circumstances, has a friendly owner who always has a smile on his face.
Sooo...here's to Smalltown, USA: the good, the bad, and the strange!