Reality Check: Small Town Does Not Equal Stupid.

11 Jul

I may have mentioned that I live in Upstate NY. As a former city-dweller, I can tell you it’s farther upstate than I meant when I said “upstate” as a kid. In fact, I pretty much thought anything beyond Albany was probably Canada. (Geography has really never been my strong suit.) I’m here to tell you that there is civilization beyond city centers. Yup. We have electricity and everything.

True story: my late Grandmother moved from Brooklyn, where she had lived her entire life – much of it in the same third-floor walk-up apartment – to an apartment here a few years ago. She lived here for about a year before she moved back downstate, where she lived until she passed away this year. As we were preparing for her move, she asked me, in all earnestness whether she needed to bring paper towel with her. Seriously. I tried to explain, that even though we’re around 4 hours outside of NYC, we actually do have paper towel available to us.

There are some folks who think that just because we’re a little town, that somehow we’re…disconnected? No. That’s not the right word. Backwards? I’m sure there are places where you can’t get paper towel, or any number of things – but a) that’s okay and b) not having everything at one’s disposal, two minutes from your house doesn’t make the inhabitants of a small town dumb or in need of your sympathy.

To wit – here is an actual exchange I heard at the grocery store this weekend:

Scene – Produce Department

Woman #1 (lives here): I know, let’s get some strawberries.

Woman #2 (does NOT live here): But they’re not organic.

Woman #1: Oh. Um. Well, let’s ask if they have any organic ones.

They proceed to locate an employee who informs them that organic strawberries are not available today.

Woman #2: What about blueberries?

Grocery Store Guy: Over there. (Points to -gasp- not organic blueberries.)

Woman #2: Organic? (Just a touch too slowly – like the concept of organic might me too much for Grocery Store Guy to grasp.)

He points her in the direction of the organic blueberries, of which only 2 or 3 three containers remain.

Woman #2: (Incredulously, inspecting containers of aforementioned blueberries with a crinkled nose) No organic strawberries? What do you people DO? (Shakes head.)

Well, Woman #2, we people take our three-headed kids out cow-tipping and stuff and then we rub sticks together to dry the clothes we handmade (hard to buy clothes for three-headed kids, y’know?) and washed down in the crick.


I love living here. I love the way it smells, I love the way people are willing to help you out if you’re in a jam – strangers or not, and I love the life my kids are getting to lead here. They can go to the theatre or work in our garden. We leave our doors unlocked and our kids can ride their bikes around the neighborhood. We watch each other’s backs. We have paper towel. And a Target, so there.

So please, enjoy your big city or big town. But don’t assume that we need your sympathy or that we people live here because we don’t realize there’s a place where organic strawberries are available all the time.

We just like it here better.




8 Responses to “Reality Check: Small Town Does Not Equal Stupid.”

  1. Dixon L. Creasey, Jr. July 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    Telling post with salient points. Me like.

    I grew up in northern Maine, which is just about as rural as it gets. I’ve also lived in the greater Chicago area, the greater Boston area, the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, and now make my home in Southeast Indiana, in proximity to Cincinnati, OH.

    It is astonishing how folks from urban areas seem to have a greasy aura of entitlement!
    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to deal with people that measure an area’s worth by the number of amenities, luxuries, organic foods and Lexi that infest the neighborhood.
    (Once, when I was working in a local store, some day-trippers from Cincinnati came in and waxed smug about their superiority. I informed them that I moved here from Boston and found the ‘Nati ‘quaint’ in comparison–that seemed to curdle their cream a bit.)

    Inasmuch as I like urban areas in general, I find that I make more money in smaller towns. I am a gigging musician who plays for a few bands. In Cinti proper, many bands compete for crappy gigs (backstabbing all the way), which involve much gas money to get to, that pay each musician $20-40, if they get paid at all. In little ol’ Dearborn County, I can travel 1-10 minutes away and make $100, and I am appreciated–who’s living in a backwater now?

    I will mention that there’s a ‘reverse smugness’ that occurs in country areas, too. As much as urbanites accuse Agricultural-Americans of Terminal Gaucheness, the rurally enhanced tend to view city dwellers as morally and spiritually deficient reptiles.
    Just sayin’.

    All urban means, really, is ‘many people in one area’. All country means is ‘more farms than Starbucks’. Neither is fundamentally good or bad. Whether ‘we built this city on rock and roll’, or believe that ‘country boys can survive’, we’re all people–even those who like tofu…or NASCAR.

    • Beth - Realist Mom July 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

      “Rurally enhanced” – I love that! Thank you for your comment. It was truly a treat to read!! And thanks for stopping by!

  2. applec July 12, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Utica has some great foods but then it is lacking in a lot of the options available in big cities. It’s always a trade off. For most of us in Utica, the advantages far out weigh the
    disadvantages. It’s not a bad city at all – especially if organic, high priced produce is all we’re missing.

  3. trophyguy July 12, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    Cow tipping. I never got a chance to do that living growing up. there are a lot of cows where I live now though.

    I remember when we decided to move to the “country”. My family (who all live in the big town here) just couldn’t understand why we wanted to live WAY OUT THERE! It’s 15 minutes to work, I’ve got so much land I still haven’t explored all behind the house, and I wouldn’t change it a bit.

    Small Towns are great!!


    • Beth - Realist Mom July 12, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

      I totally agree. While I grew up in a city and love to go back to visit, I would never trade what I have here. Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  4. sassymodernmom July 12, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    LOL Oh how this made me laugh..if there is no chinese food delivery they just can’t handle your backward way of life right? Yep, I know those people:) Great post.

    • Beth - Realist Mom July 12, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

      Thanks! We do have Chinese delivery – but not at 3 am, and only if it’s not snowing too hard!!

  5. saramitchell July 13, 2011 at 3:31 am #

    Hey, if you have a Target that’s all you need in life!

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