Sunday, March 20, 2016

Why I Live in a Small Town

Today, my wife and I went through our usual Sunday routine and it reminded me of why I live in a small town. When I was younger, I was going to have a career in sales. I worked my way up the corporate ladder and could have chosen at least a dozen places to go to advance my career. But every time the thought of leaving home came up, I bristled at it.

When I finally became a professional writer, I once again had the option of moving to New York City or anywhere else to grow my career. But the thought of leaving my family and my home did not inspire me. Luckily, I have the Internet to fall back on and the Internet has made forging a career a little easier. Yeah, I know. Successful people go to where the action is. But for me, this small town has all the action I need.
Picture Property of Niagara Produce

In any town or city, you can be a customer of certain places and the employees there will get to know your name. You will find that the servers who usually serve you also get to know what you like, and you often don't even have to order to get your meal the way you want it. That kind of thing happens in Lockport and New York City.

But in Lockport, I regularly see a lot of people I know when I got to Kalamata's or Carsons. My mechanic knows my name, and remembers my car history. He also knows that I don't like to spend money unless I have to, that I panic when something goes wrong, and he takes good care of my mom's car too. In big cities that is called good customer service. Around here, it is just the way people are.

I have traversed this city my entire life, and I feel like I know every stone and blade of grass. Of course, I don't know the city nearly as well as I think I do, but every inch of it feels like home. I didn't go away somewhere and come back to the changes that have gone on over the years. I have been here for every one of them, and they all are familiar. Some of the changes may not be welcome, but they are familiar.

I lived in Buffalo for several years, and the city is always around you. It is impossible to get away from the cramped houses on the narrow streets, the busy traffic night and day, and the sounds that make up a city. Even though we have our share of crime and random gangs of teenagers wandering the streets trying to terrorize people, those city sounds simply do not exist here. In a small town, the noise of any crime cannot be hidden by the noise of every day life, and that gives the police an advantage.

The idea that everyone who grows up in a small town stays a small town person is not true at all. I know plenty of people who took the leap into the big city I refused to take and have done well for themselves. But I also know many people like myself, who have tried living in the big city and have come back to their small town. People who love big cities cannot understand those who would go back to a small town and vice-versa. It is just the way it is.

As my wife and I walked around the city today, it just felt like home. Once you become emotionally involved in your home town, it even develops a familiar scent that no other city or town has. Your small town is where you see people you know walking in the streets, and you meet new people who either live in your neighborhood or have lived there. Everyone knows everyone else, which can be creepy to someone from a big city. But it is something you expect in a small town.

I live in a small town because I cannot stand the clatter and confusion that comes with living in a big city. Some people like that clatter, but I cannot stand it. And when I see the youth of my small town being raised to act like thugs, that concerns me. No, not all of Lockport's youth are acting like thugs. But many are, and I hope that the kids who want a future in this small town will step up and let the thugs know that their behavior is not going to be tolerated.

For now, our small town is a pretty wonderful place. I am aware of the crime and the problems, but we can come together and put a stop to that. Why doesn't the mayor take a look at the influx of drug halfway houses in the city lately? I know someone who lives on the same block as two drug houses, and they are not places where people get rehabilitated. They are places that have residents who terrorize the neighborhoods they are in, and their numbers are growing in Lockport.

Low income housing is essential in making sure that everyone has a place to live, but absentee landlords who charge cheap rent and then never monitor or repair their properties should be held accountable. We can fix our small town, but it takes a group effort and a little cooperation from those in charge. But we can do it.

Why do I live in a small town? Because despite the crime and problems we have here, this is still a better place to live than a city that has the same problems amplified several times over. In a city, making a difference can be difficult. In a small town, making a difference means the population getting together and doing something about the issues. If you live in this small town because you love it too, then making a difference should be one of your priorities.

I want to leave this small town to my grandchildren in the best possible condition, and retain as much of its small town charm as possible. Do you?

George N Root III is a proud Lockport resident who wouldn't live anywhere else. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at