Daniel (Danny) Lance Wright, Author

Monday, June 17, 2013

Just a Small Town Thing

I’ve mentioned small-town living often in this blog. It’s one of those things that’s deeply imbedded in me; to the bone, so to speak. Oh sure, I detoured from it for about thirty years while working in the television industry but in my heart, I was never far from it.

Here’s where I need to be clear on what I’m referring to as “small town”. I’m not talking about a municipality of modest population that butts against a larger city where the only differentiation between the two is the city limit sign or even a bedroom community a few miles out from an urban center. I’m talking about a community that by its distance from those type places must, by necessity, be its own center of commerce. Otherwise, a round trip to the grocery store might be eighty to a hundred miles. You have to admit that when gasoline is around four bucks a gallon, even wealthy folks think more of their money than to spend it so frivolously.

There are things that happen in small towns that might astonish an urbanite but are everyday occurrences to the locals.

Here’s a wonderfully amusing example: I needed to pick up a few things at the grocery, not a neighborhood convenience story, mind you, but a supermarket. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a riding lawn mower taking up a parking space. I figured it was just an employee that had been doing some work and then taking a break for a soda or something.

After picking up the items I went in for, I stepped into the checkout line behind a spry old gentleman that quite obviously had cataracts on his eyes and vision problems. I’d guess his age to be mid-eighties. He was bantering with the cashier. “Now get a move on, Missy. You’re taking time away from my stories.”

“Stories?” she asked. “Are you talking about the afternoon soap operas on television?”

He reared his head in astonishment that she’d need to ask. “Of course. Now hurry it along. It’ll take me a while to get home on that damned ol’ mower.”

This is the point I became very interested. “So, you’re the one driving that riding mower parked next to me out there.”

“Yep. They yanked my driver’s license. They told me my vision didn’t measure up. But, I see well enough. So, damn ‘em. I’ll do what I gotta do to get around.”

I smiled and nodded. “Then I guess I’ll be seeing you around.”

“You damn sure will, boy... you damn sure will.”

Since that day, I’ve seen him many times driving down the shoulder of the main highway that splits our little town at a blistering three or four miles per hour. It’s a rather busy thoroughfare. Each time I do, I stick my arm out the window and offer a big wave. He never waves back. I assume he can’t see that far. I do wonder just how far he can see since he crosses that highway frequently. I don’t know, but I won’t be standing in front of him if he’s coming in my direction.

I hope that when the time comes, I can be so inventive. I'm not exactly young anymore. Maybe I should be pricing riding mowers.

Ah, small town, America. Can ya dig it?