five rules of small-town life

There is not one traffic light
in any town north of Campbell River.
1. Don't be in a rush.

Everything takes time. Everyone has time. You have time, too. You might have to wait while people finish chatting. No matter. You have time.

2. Don't try to make plans.

People stop by. They want you to stop by. Or you can wait for them to come 'round. They will.

3. Don't be too picky.

Everything you need is here. It might not be exactly what you had in mind, but does the difference really matter? If it does, there's the internet, and you can wait. But generally you have a few choices. That's enough.

4. Don't say too much.

People will ask. They are genuinely interested. Share a story. They will genuinely appreciate it. No need to go on at length. A short story will do. Don't say more than you want to, because whatever you say, everyone will know.

5. Don't talk about other people.

Everyone knows each other.

* * * *

The small-town norm that is most divergent with big-city life, in my view, is about stopping by. In cities, you never stop by. It would be an intrusion. It's considered disrespectful of other people's time. Even trying to plan one week ahead can cause resentment.

I'm not saying that no one in our small town makes advance plans. Certainly professionals plan ahead, make appointments, have meetings. If I'm planning a visit to one of my libraries in another town, I give people a heads-up, so we can meet if they're available.

But stopping by is expected. It's welcomed. It's considered friendly.

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