Month: May 2018

Small Towns – Don’t Ask Google

I remember the days of asking people for directions and recommendations.  The days before Google and Facebook. I’m not even sure when my phone became the go-to resource for everything.

Even at the dinner table, I’ll consult my phone if the information is relevant in the moment.


“What time does the hardware store close?”

I finish chewing and pull out my phone.  “Eight o’clock.  Enough time to wash the dishes before we go there.”

It’s not rude if it enhances the conversation. Right?

I used to ask for directions and carefully write down all of the details. “Turn left at the place that used to be the Dairy Queen. Go past the thrid tree to the house with the blue door.”

I’m moving to a small town and my Googling knowledge fails me in important ways. I must actually speak to people and look at my surroundings.

For the most part, Google maps will take me to the correct location.  But I don’t always recognize it when I get there. I drove past my new post office several times.

Google said, “You have arrived.”  I didn’t see a post office.  Then I stopped and squinted at the shadows of letters that used to be above the door.

Once inside, the post office looked normal. But, a direction like, “Look for the brown adobe building next to the old loan place,” would have been helpful.

Google failed me when I needed a windshild chip repair.  I called the only auto glass place on the list.  “We don’t do that.  Call Matt. Here is his number.”

My go-to solutions fail me as well.

I called my insurance agent for a quote on my new home. “We don’t insure homes there.”

So I asked the real estate agent.  She gave three suggestions, all which had the word Farm in their name. Hmmm.

I called the national satellite internet company. “We can’t set you up with service right away.  Call back in a couple of weeks.”

So, I called my real estate agent.  She suggested two companies with Native American names.

Elements from the city have been dropped into the small town.  When inside the Walgreens, I could be in Philadelphia or Washington D.C.  The same tile floors.  The same sized aisles.  And, the same online and texting services.

Local businesses sit next to city franchises.  Many don’t choose to pay for website development or Facebook page management. People already call Mike for a windshield chip and ask Barb about hair color. No need to look it up.

Because of the limited internet presence, word-of-mouth rules.

I need to find a church, a doctor, a dentist, and most of all. . . a coffee shop.

My Starbucks app keeps flashing a picture of a coffee cup across my phone. I could drive an hour to get the advertised special.

Instead, I use my punch card at the local coffee shop. The one without a fancy app. Local shops are more fun anyway.

I guess I’ll have to start talking to people if I want information.

Good thing I like talking to people.

My Daughter Bought A Motorcycle

Not a motorcycle exactly. Not like a Harley.

Most people her age can’t afford Harleys. Those are for established business men and retirees.

She called hers a scooter. I sent her this picture from the grocery store and asked if this is what it looked like.

Her husband rolled his eyes. “Not that kind of scooter.

Lots of people drive motorcycles, but I never pictured my baby girl out on the open road without the protection of tons of metal and airbags.

As my kids grew up, I controlled their environment. Where they lived. Where they vacationed. What activities they participated in. And, what kind of car they rode around in.

I drove a big mom car, an SUV – practically lived in it. I could face any challenge with the case of water bottles, snack box, handwarmers, band-aids, three blankets, and a dining canopy, that I kept in my car.  Surely, my daughter would do the same.

As a teenager, she once asked, “Why have I visited all the western states, but no place in the east?”

My response. “Dad and I prefer the the west. When you grow up, you can do whatever you want.”

Challenge accepted.

She married and moved to the city.

Not the suburbs – the city city.

Not a western city – a city Back East.

I like to visit her in the old brownstone with tiny one-way streets, designed for horse drawn carriages. But I wouldn’t want to live there.  My new home sits on two acres of cactus and pinion trees near a small town.

It didn’t take her long to trade my old SUV in for a Fiat. She claims it is a step up from a Smart Car, but I have my doubts. She can always find a parking spot near her apartment. I close my eyes  as she squeezes into the impossible space. Apparently, some cars wear bumper protectors to shield them from “love taps.”

If she stops at Costco on her way home from work, she can’t fill the cart too full. Her purchases would never fit in the little car.

When my daughter and her husband moved to the city, they touted the wonders of mass transit. My son-in-law planned to ride the subway and use Uber. No car needed. No maintenance and insurance cost. But mass transit isn’t free.  For the cost of the subway pass, they can pay for the scooter and ride whenever and wherever they want, as long as they stay under fifty miles per hour (the scooter’s top speed).

My daughter assures me it has lots of storage. Note the little box on the back. She researched and purchased the best safety equipment available.  “My helmet covers my jaw, because I am a singer, and I care about my jaw.”

She calls the car and the scooter her “little Italian family.”

The newlyweds have their adventure and I have mine.

All I can do is let them live their lives. . . and blog about it. Thanks for the material, honey.