I know this has nothing to do with food, but I got inspired to write this post after spending the morning at my first day on the job of a new bakery/breakfast place in my hometown. I realized how funny/weird it is that I knew (or at least recognized) every single person I served this morning. I realized how great it is that I live somewhere where if I mess up on an order, they can say, “Hey, Annie, I think you’ve got this wrong,” instead of ripping my head off. I’ve lived here my whole life, and sometimes it’s annoying or boring, but everyone needs to remember where they came from and why it rocks… especially if it’s a tiny town in the middle of rural southwestern Iowa. So I present to you The Top 10 Best (and Worst) Things About Living in a Small Town.
10) The Best: Friday night football games. Everyone shows up, whether you’re 5 or 50, to cheer on those boys. I’ve been out of high school for 3 years and I still have the Fight Song (cheer, chant, flag routine, and sheet music) memorized.
The Worst: The only thing to do on a Friday night is go to the high school football game.
9) The Best: Having memories on every block. There’s where my second-grade teacher lives, that’s where I wrecked my bike and had to get stitches. Here’s where my best friend and I ran out of gas, there’s where I had my first job. Every part of town is a part of my own history.
The Worst: It’s hard to change how people think of you. For example, I’ve been known my whole life as “Annie Uhlenkamp who’s mom works at the school”, and now I want to be “Annie Hosfield who writes that cool blog”. (Kidding. Kind of.)
8) The Best: Not having to deal with stoplights, heavy traffic, constant sirens, or crazy construction like they do in the city.
The Worst: Having to deal with two cars, going in opposite directions, stopped in the middle of the road to talk to each other. Having to deal with “traffic jams” from the Amish or a tractor on the highway. Having to be slightly nervous when sirens do go off, because it means someone you know (or someone that someone you know knows), is hurt or in trouble.
7) The Best: Walking into any restaurant in town and knowing whether the food/service will be extra good depending on who’s waitressing.
The Worst: If you want McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Jimmy Johns, KFC, Chipotle, Olive Garden, Applebees, or Chinese/Italian/Mexican food, you have at least a 30 minute drive.
6) The Best: When something exciting happens, everyone celebrates. High school state basketball qualifier? Everyone is there. Having a baby? Everyone knows when you’re due. Getting married? Everyone knows, and everyone wants to be invited.
The Worst: Inviting 225+ people to your wedding, and then realizing that your wedding is on the same day as another hometown couple’s wedding, so people either have to leave your reception early to make it to the other one or not come at all. Sorry, Sarah.
5) The Best: You get warm-fuzzies from songs like this:
The Worst: Those girls at bars and parties who play the song “Don’t Stop Believing” so that they can belt out the line “Just a small town girl/livin’ in a loooooooonely worrrrrld” and scream, “HEY! THAT’S ME! THIS SONG IS ABOUT ME!” No it’s not. Calm down.
4) The Best: Being from a small town means you either grew up working on a farm or got a job as soon as you turned 16 to help pay for your own car/gas (which is a necessity in rural areas). You grow up learning that hard work is important.
The Worst: Hard work gives you a sense of pride. Being proud means having never-ending arguments about things you are proud of, such as Hawkeyes vs. Cyclones, red vs. green, and Chevy vs. Ford. (Hawks, red, and Chevy will always be better.)
3) The Best: Being able to leave your keys in the car and not worrying about whether or not it will get stolen. Also, not having to lock your doors every night.
The Worst: When people know you leave your keys in the car, so they mess with you and move it around the corner. When people know you don’t lock your house, so they come in and yell “Helloooooooo!” while you’re still in the shower.
2) The Best: All of the little things city people don’t even know that they are missing: being within walking distance of all of the stores and restaurants in town. Having an old-fashioned, super bumpy town square made of brick. Not feeling too bad for not checking up on your grandparents this week, because what they did and any visitors they had is printed in the County Columns of the newspaper.
The Worst: All of the little things we’re missing: something to do besides driving around or hanging out at the lake. More than one movie to choose from at the theater. School sports teams like soccer or tennis or swimming.
1) The Best: Everybody knows everybody. Being on a first name-basis with your old teachers, your doctors, your bankers, your sales clerks, your gas station attendants. Going to the grocery store, and everyone says “Hi, ____!” Knowing that if you leave, people wonder where you are and how you’re doing.
The Worst: Everybody knows everybody. But I guess that’s okay.