Creative Nonfiction, Eric Poor

Rurality

by Eric Poor

One of the things about living in the country is you need a motor vehicle. Everything essential is well spaced out in all directions. You can’t just walk out the door and cross the street to the corner bodega to grab some groceries. Or walk a block or two and buy a new shirt at the haberdashery. Or take the bus to work. Chances are good you’ll need to put a few miles on the old buggy to get much of anything done when you live out in the sticks.

One part of country living I’ve never quite adapted to is the knack of recognizing people by their motor vehicle. People are forever asking me why I didn’t wave back to them the other day out on Route 202 or 119. The answer, of course, is I didn’t see them—maybe because I was looking at the road and where I was going. And maybe I did see them, but failed to recognize their vehicle because it pretty much looks like all the others. Picture me driving down the road thinking: who the hell was that? after seeing an outstretched arm and a handful of twiddling fingers.

I have enough trouble remembering people as it is. Remembering cars, vans and pickups is just a bit much. But I’m trying—because it’s important to all those people who wave at me. Although I do have this sneaking suspicion that there are some people who do this just to perplex other motorists—or maybe it’s because my vehicle resembles someone else’s.

When you always have to drive around to get stuff and get stuff done, you learn to multitask. With the price of gas what it is, there’s nothing more aggravating then to find yourself retracing the same route several times in a single day. Multitasking requires some thinking ahead. So when I go out to library I make it a point to think about what else needs doing or getting that can be done or got along the way.

In my hometown one of the dump days is Tuesday…oh, excuse me—one of the Trash Transfer and Recycling Center days—is Tuesday. Tuesday is also a voting day in all those elections throughout the year. So whenever it’s time to vote I load up the pickup with trash and head for the…er, Trash Transfer and Recycling Center. Because I’m trying to become more adroit at recognizing motor vehicles I’ve noticed that many of the vehicles I see there, I also see minutes later at the elementary school polling place.

Then I see some of them at the post office, and more of them at the grocery store. So it appears to me that this type of multitasking is a rural ethic of some kind.

Is there a point to this, you might ask. Well, you bet there is. Now that I’ve captured your attention I want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to do their civic duty. Go to the dump and vote.

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