Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a big difference between city environments and those of rural America. I’m talking about real cities and not some of the small towns that call themselves cities. The residents of Ladysmith, Wisconsin call their little burg of some three thousand inhabitants a city. In actuality and by the insights of people who inhabit large cities like say Madison or Milwaukee, Ladysmith is a small town. I won’t bore you much with my idea of what Ladysmith is but, before Wal-Mart showed, up there wasn’t a store in town that carried anything but Extra-Large clothing since many of the locals fall under the category XL. Ruby’s Dress Shop perhaps had something smaller, but it was not a place that a man, unless he was a cross-dresser, would shop.
The differences, as I see it, between real cities and small towns are many. In a small town a person more than likely knows more than one person at the grocery store and grocery stores in the more rural areas have fewer options in the produce department. Both Ladysmith Fresh Market and Wal-Mart have the basic necessities in the produce department. When I go to the grocery stores in the Twin Cities near my daughter’s home and venture through the produce isles, I feel like I’m doing a tour through a Skittles or Mike and Ike box. Not everything is green or red.
My wife and I do, on very seldom occasions, wander down to the Woodman’s store near Eau Claire, just to experience the feel of a city store but without all the nutty traffic. Eau Claire is as large a city as I need to visit.
A man I knew had some very telling insights into the barriers between large cities and we peons out here in the sticks and those are:
-first and foremost, of my friend’s list of perceptions is that the further away from tall buildings a person gets the more civilized and sane people appear to be. I’d say he’s right since I’ve lived in both cities and rural areas and the nuts in the cities seem more violent than the nuts in the country.
-another notable difference is that since we don’t have many stoplights people aren’t as apt to ignore the single solitary one that we have in Rusk County. In large cities is seems to him that people have a game of ignoring red lights at their whim. Stop signs, however, seem to be more of a suggestion than the law here. This is especially true in the outlying areas.
-then there is the matter of money. It seems most of the paper money in circulation out here in the boondocks is on the verge of being worn out. City folding money seems to be crisper and less ragged.
-there seem to be more ten-dollar bills in circulation in rural areas. Twenties and fifties seem to be more in vogue in Indianapolis than in Imalone. But then again, a fifty-dollar bill in Imalone would have a better chance of being printed locally than by the Treasury Department.
-bicycling seems to be more prevalent in cities and it’s easier to stagger home from the bar in cities. If I drank to excess, I’d have a hard time staggering home from any reputable bars in Rusk County since the nearest town is a six mile walk or ten-mile stagger from my house.
-since my friend was a man and also had a cabin near my home, he liked the idea that he could take a leak in the woods near his cabin and he wouldn’t be immediately surrounded by police officers ready to arrest him for polluting the environment.
-it also seemed to him that women in cities are more apt to be members of the ‘crotch police’ who notice every man who has failed to pull up his zipper after a trip to the bathroom. Most women here don’t care. I guess they figure if it can’t get up it can’t get out.
-if it takes longer to walk than to drive, you’re in the country, if it takes longer to drive than to walk, you’re in the city.
I talk about this man in the past tense since he has passed away before he had the opportunity to retire and fulfill his dream of building birdhouses in his workshop. His cabin that he built himself had retirement written all over it.
Arian is a short story contributor to the Sentinel & Rural News. Arian has written two full-length thrillers which have received critical and popular acclaim. Arian lives in Bruce, WI, with his charming wife, Arlene.Profile
The Sentinel & Rural News covers the news and events of Clark County and southern Taylor County, as well as regional news that affects those areas.