Saturday, January 2, 2010

Small Town Livin'

There's something to be said about small town livin'.

In North Dakota, if you live in a rural area (and there's a lot of those), anything bigger than 3000 people is considered "the big city." So I guess I'm a "big city girl." And I'm discovering the convenience of Walmart and Starbucks doesn't hold a candle to the perks of a small town.

Allow me to explain.

This week, my family made the 2-hour trek to the small town I grew up in, to bombard my parents' home and celebrate the holidays with 25 additional family members. (Yes, it was tight - but we manage!)

And I learned some things about small town livin'.

1) In contrast to my own doctor stories (see prior blog post), small town residents get the kind of access and respect from their doctors that I only dream about. My sister informed me that she actually can just call the doctor for a presciption without having to go through the exam first! Imagine!!!

If you live in the "big city" and that doesn't enthrall you, keep reading. Your jaw will drop soon.

2) Go ahead and throw away your receipt. As I was helping my Mom with meal prep, we discovered one of the ingredients she purchased was the wrong one, so we sent my Dad to the store to do an exchange. As she stuffed the item into a bag, I asked, "Do you have the receipt?" She looked at me a little funny, then replied, "No! You don't need a receipt. They'll take it back. They know it's theirs."

Now true, most places will take items without a receipt in the "big city" as well, but not without the eye roll and a sigh from the cashier. And if it isn't an exchange, you can forget about a refund. You'll just get store credit.

But that's nothin'.

As a North Dakotan who has lived through my share of winters, I can appreciate a helping hand after a snowfall.

So here is the third and final perk for living in a small town that was brought to light:

3) My brother just returned from a Christmas visit to his in-laws in Kansas, so he wasn't home during the huge snowstorm that hit the area last week. I asked him if he liked the welcome-home gift of large snowdrifts in his driveway.

But do you know what he said?!

He said there weren't any.

Because the "merk" as he's called, (short for mercantile guy, apparently), goes around town and clears everyone's driveway.


I know. That was my response as well.

The mercantile guy knows if people can't get their cars out, they aren't coming to shop at his store, so he has an understandable vested interest in your snowpile.

Maybe some of the retailers around here could learn a thing or two from the merk. Personally, I'd be first in line to shop somewhere if the store owner was cleaning the 4-foot drifts from my driveway.

This "big city girl" isn't quite ready to give up my Y membership or the McDonald's drive-thru option, but I might start checking for doctors in Menoken and asking the clerk behind the customer service desk at Walmart if she'd like to offer me snowblowing services instead of store credit.

I'm just sayin'.

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