In my time since moving back to my hometown, I’ve come to realize that I miss some really strange things about city life. For example, I miss knowing that I could walk into any number of stores in the area without meeting a single person I know. Here, it’s an unusual day at the grocery store if I can go for more than 2 aisles without seeing someone I know. Now, on a normal day that’s not a problem, but on the days when I’m feeling sick and I just want to grab a little medicine or something to help myself feel a little better it’s an entirely different story. Remember, a few posts ago, I told you I got a neti pot? I was asked about how I like that neti pot by no less than three people at church on Sunday! They all said something to the affect of “I noticed that you didn’t look like you were feeling well. Did it help?” I’m realizing that I either need to take special care of my appearance before I leave the house, or I have be prepared to offer an explanation to anyone who sees me. Of course, there is a little part of me that wanted to respond to those who asked with, “Oh, I was feeling great that day, I was just planning ahead. Why did you think something was wrong?” I think that’s just a little snottier than I want to get, though. (No pun intended.)
There is another thing I miss about city life, though. (This one also struck me as strange.) I miss predictable traffic. Now, I remember laughing at some people who complained about downtown traffic when I first moved back. I mean, seriously, traffic here has nothing on the traffic I saw everyday at every hour of the day on my friendly neighborhood traffic circle in New Jersey. I’ve come to realize, though, that the city traffic had an upside (if that’s possible.) First, traffic holdups, accidents, and construction would be highlighted on the news in the traffic report. So, I knew I could avoid those routes. Second, the roads could handle more traffic for run-of-the-mill times. Most roads had passing lanes and most drivers drove fast, so it was rare for me to really get stuck behind a slow vehicle. Third, it was easy to tell daily patterns in the flow of traffic because factories released workers consistently, workers had to report at large office buildings consistently, and there was general ebb and flow to the everyday traffic. For example, I knew that if I left 5 minutes late to get to work, I would arrive 20 minutes late to work. I knew that because traffic consistently picked up at the same time every morning.
In contrast, small town traffic is always full of surprises. I generally like surprises, just not early in the morning, (unless, of course, the surprise is a snow day, or fog delay, or something similar. ) Sometimes, I’m surprised by a freight train. Sometimes, the town plans a random, unannounced street closing to fill potholes. This morning, on my way to school, my surprise looked something like this: I didn’t take this picture, but the scene I saw looked very similar. (Just use your imagination to picture less daylight and a narrower street.) I got stuck behind a tractor going roughly 3 mph through a construction zone during prime “going-to-work” hours. (And by construction, I mean there were rows of orange cones blocking off a lane of traffic for no apparent reason with no workers or work equipment anywhere in sight.) I have great sympathy for farmers. I’m related to several, and I appreciate their hard work. However, I would have appreciated this particular farmer a lot more if he had chosen a back road this morning.