Tips on Training the City-Bred

Posted by By at 12 January, at 12 : 32 PM Print

I had an adventure a few years back that reminds me how much fun it is to live in a small town.

I was sitting on the tailgate of my pickup truck at a local building supply store, watching a couple of employees help a young woman load a kitchen counter-top into her car.

Or, rather, I watched them doing everything but load the counter-top into her car.

Being a person whom my bank allows to use and keep up a house it owns, I spend a lot of time at this particular store. In fact, within three years of my coming into possession of my house, this particular builders’ supply store was able to afford to build an entirely new building. I’m sure this is not a coincidence. I am still awaiting a memorial plaque to be erected any day now. Or at least a thank-you note.

It hasn’t shown up yet. Corporations can be very slow when it comes to things like that, you know.

Anyway, these two guys were very conscientious, trying to figure out a way to get this L-shaped kitchen counter into a car the size of a ballet slipper.

They wedged it into the trunk from every possible direction, which meant that the other arm of the “L” stuck out either to the left, right, top or bottom. They had the car’s doors open, apparently thinking to try jamming the thing in from that way, after possibly taking the rear seat out.

I suddenly remembered that immediately under my relaxed fanny was a perfectly good half-ton Dodge pickup truck, complete with driver, the latter being me.

“Excuse me,” I said to the woman. “I’d be happy to haul this thing home for you in my truck, before these guys bring out the can opener,” or words to that effect.

She gave me what I call the City Look.

I get it a lot from urban folks when I offer to take their camera and get a picture of the whole family in front of the statue of Abraham Lincoln and Perry Como on the square in Gettysburg. Folks from big cities often shy away, as though they think I’m trying to steal their camera. People from everywhere else usually say “Hey, great!” and hand over the camera.

I take the picture and then we usually talk for 10 or 15 minutes, and I tell them some of the good places to eat and the things to be sure not to miss while they’re in the area.

The big city people usually warm up, too, and apologize for their suspicion.

“We just can’t get over how friendly people are here!” They usually say.

I guess it’s all about what you’re used to.

Well, anyway, there we all stood, in front of the Burger Memorial Wing of the local hardware and garden emporium, and this woman is looking at me as though she’s wondering if I might be trying to steal her kitchen counter. The two customer service reps, on the other hand, looked really relieved.

We popped the counter into the truck and I followed her home to one of those new developments eating up farmland in the southeastern corner of the county where I live.

I backed my truck into her garage. Her husband came out, looking a little worried, I thought. Maybe he thought he was going to have to feed me, no small feat.

He helped me unload the counter top. His wife held out a folded up wad of bills. I said no, thanks, her house was on the way to mine, and I was happy to help. I said my good-byes and drove away.

A good friend who moved to the area from Manhattan and lived here for more than a decade before returning said that when he returns from the Big Apple for a visit, it takes him awhile to get out of that urban guardedness. He says when somebody waves at him from a front porch, he finds himself wondering what they want. In other words, what they want to get from him, money, time, whatever.

After he’s been back for a few days, he realizes that the waver is saying hello. He remembers to wave back. Sometimes.

Remember: Even the urban can be trained. All you have to do is keep waving and smiling.

And don’t make any sudden moves toward their cameras.

Photo by jimgrant


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This post was written by:
- who has written 28 posts for Rock The Capital
T.W. Burger was born in western Pennsylvania but spent more than 30 years growing up in Athens Ga., with a two-year side-trip to Greenville, Mississippi. He has lived in the Gettysburg area since 1985. Before becoming a newspaper reporter at 35, he was an apprentice mortician, concrete mixer driver, garbageman, salesman, laboratory technician and all-around roustabout. He has written professionally since the late 1970s. He lives along Marsh Creek near Gettysburg with his partner Sue and a loose affiliation of cats. He is the author of the “Burger to Go” blogsite at - Email tburger


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