Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Too Busy

We first move to our small town in 1993, the year Miss 16 was born. We moved when she was about two weeks old. Our town was about 13,000 people then. We had a KMart, a Pamida, a Wal-mart, 3 grocery stores, a small butcher shop/grocery store, several restaurants, a couple of great pizza places, and some fun downtown gift shops.
We loved that we felt safe here, that lines were never long, you could get into appointments you needed with ease, if you needed a repair from someone you didn't wait weeks, housing prices were at the low end of the spectrum and we felt comfortable with the general ease of life here.

In recent years as the price of oil has risen our small town feel has changed significantly. We now have a Wal-mart Super Center and two grocery stores, one of which is a chain that needs serious updating, the other claims to be "locally" owned but the owner lives 3.5 hours away in another city. We don't have any pizza places other than chains, we lost a few restaurants instead of gaining any, we lost a couple of great gift shops, and KMart and Pamida both pulled out. Thanks Wal-mart, for losing the life in our community.

While I realize it is not just Wal-mart creating these problems, it doesn't make me hate shopping there any less, and realizing I have few affordable options doesn't make me feel less torn about having to shop there. Standing in line 6 deep when there are only 3 of the 28 check outs open doesn't make me like their store. Because of where we live, typically the people at the check out stands are friendly and try hard to hurry and be kind to their customers. I realize not all people have that degree of "niceness" in their Wal-mart. But I still don't like it.

I miss when I felt safe with my kids biking off by themselves; now we hear reports of cars stopping and offering kids rides, or worse, telling the child that they were sent by their father to get them.

I miss the lack of traffic on our busier streets, and the quiet times of night when there was relatively no traffic. Now our streets are busy all the time and the noise of young guys with too much money spent on incredibly loud mufflers is so annoying.

I know that life in a bigger city is fraught with a lot more trouble then we have, but I didn't choose to live in a bigger city. I chose to live in a small town.

The oil boom we are experiencing has brought little to our personal lives. It brings in tax revenue, yes, but it hasn't brought any benefit to the person who has lived here for years. It fills up our hotel rooms, raises the prices on supplies and blows up our house values to unrealistic dollar amounts. The local political establishment keeps talking of the great thing that is happening here. But we, as the average joe, are still waiting for the great part.


Jensamom23 said...

I feel for you...the small town I decided to raise my kids in, isn't so small anymore.

Lo said...

Walmart is evil. Such a shame they had to move in because small, local business owners could have really benefited from a booming economy.
I think the days of safe neighborhoods in any size town are long gone. Williston is still much smaller than Minot was when we were growing up and I remember being out most summer nights until the street lights came on (10 pm). Looking back it still seems to have been safe. Maybe we were oblivious then or maybe the news and Megan's Law website and shows like Dateline make it seem more prevalent in the small towns as well as in the cities.