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Monday, May 23, 2016

Small town life: love it or hate it?

I was born and raised in a small town. Growing up, it wasn't worth trying partying or doing anything that might get me in trouble, because my mom would find out before I got home.  There are pluses to it.  You usually know who you can trust, you know who the "problem folk" are and for the most part its a positive experience.

In my case, I was also born into a long-time pioneer family.  We were kinda the black sheep of the family, with my great-grandmother marrying and moving "away", 20 miles north.  One of our distant cousins actually told us she wasn't sure if my grandmother should be buried in the pioneer cemetery because of that.  My mom married my father, who was born and raised 35 miles south.  What all this "marrying" stuff means is I have a lot of relatives around here, both by blood and marriage (my family members aren't known for long term relationships, but that's another story).

This means that I know a lot of people.  My husband and I both have jobs that are pretty involved with the residents in our community.  My husband often makes decisions regarding people that aren't popular (no, he's not law enforcement) and people assume that he tells me all about them.  Nope, he doesn't. Its a confidential thing and he doesn't violate that.  I work with kids and while there is confidentiality in my job, its definitely not as strict.  We've both experienced people contacting us at our home, by phone and by social media on our days off to ask work-related questions.  It bugs him a lot.  In his case, people are trying to take advantage of "knowing" him to get something in return. It doesn't bug me as much because before I was hired, I was an active volunteer in the organization so people called me a lot anyhow.  I'm trying to establish some "guidelines" for only contacting me for an "emergency".  It's going to be a while before it's really in effect.

I am a recovering alcoholic and I don't hide it.  I screwed up in public, why should I get better in private.  This means that there is gossip.  Even after 15 plus years, now and then it raises its ugly head.  I try not to let it bother me, and I'm working on not getting sucked into the gossip. Easier said than done, but I'm trying.  Our family isn't perfect, but neither is anyone elses, so there... (I'm sticking out my tongue like a kid here saying "nyah-nyah"). I don't hide anything I do. I even got a business license for selling farm products like veggies, eggs and fruit in our small town. I didn't have to do that because I could hide it all or make people come over the city line.  I don't work like that and I don't have respect for people that do.  If you are going to accuse me of hiding something, especially here in my home town, you better have proof.

I got a call recently saying that someone had heard that I'd turned someone into the local "welfare" office for selling eggs.  I told them #1, I know 3 people who sell eggs besides me and none of them are on assistance, #2 I don't play games like that, #3 people need to remember that what they post on facebook or social media does get seen by caseworkers, so I don't need to report anyone and #4 I don't have time in my life to turn someone in for stuff like that.  I also told her that it was probably someone who'd had a run-in with my husband at his office and they needed to realize that we don't talk about his cases.  He does his job and he's good at it, often people don't like that.

After I hung up, I started laughing.  One of the worst things about small town life is that people often try to use things against others, to hurt them.  It sometimes works, usually it doesn't and thank goodness I've learned to turn the other cheek.  We stay home a lot , we have a close group of friends we socialize with and unfortunately, we keep to ourselves quite a bit.  It's part of life in a small town and while I know I could never live in a big city, sometimes I wish I lived where no one knew my name.

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