Angelia McLean: Country Mouse City Mouse 2-20-12
Denver, being the second largest city West and Southwest next to Phoenix has around 600,000 people. Combine the area comprising of what we often call the Denver Metro Area and you’ve got over 2 million people smushed up against our majestic Rocky Mountains. You’d have to drive over 500 miles any which way to meet up with a bigger city than Denver. Since I rode into town in 1990 the population had just started accruing. In 10 years, the area had grown 30 percent and in the last 10 years, over a million people have called the Mile High City their home. My point of demographics 101 here is, Denver is really a small town.
As I was walking the dog the other day, I said hi to our regular UPS man who the day before had schlepped a 100 pound box up our porch steps into our house. We chit chatted and he asked if we’d gotten the boxes all sorted out. He’s the same man a few years ago who had altered his route to deliver my package earlier in the day so I could make my deadline. I exchange Christmas cards with the owners of a copy shop I’ve been patronizing since my oldest son, now 19, was in a car seat. The Glendale Target has had some of the same faces since we first started going there 20 years ago. And recently the deli lady and I strike up personal conversations as we’ve gotten to know one another. Same thing with our local King Soopers. There is comfort in familiar faces.
Over the years, local restaurants got know my family so well they knew right away what each kid would order and brought extra napkins. Our piano teacher has had all four of my kids (some longer than others) over 13 years now. When she recently lost a pet, it was our loss too. The pizza guys at our favorite ‘za joint often had our slices going into the oven as we walked in the door. My daughter and I frequent the same Wendy’s weekly that the young guy behind the counter was disappointed when we changed our regular order one night. He’d been so ready for us that now we don’t switch so as not to hurt his feelings.
We’ve been seeing the same pediatrician for 17 years, the same dentist for 19 years and our car mechanics know us on sight (unfortunately). Our plumbers have done work for us so long now that we can discuss graduations, marriages and ‘remember when …’ plumbing jobs. Our milk delivery has been going for over 20 years and despite its magically appearing on its scheduled day some time around 4 a.m., I have reason to believe that it is the same milk delivery lady too. We know all the people who work at our bank that one time in need, the manager held the bank open until we could get there. No need for your personal identification number, driver’s license and first born at this bank to get service. Our regular loan officer has done many a-refinancing for us over the years that she’s on speed dial.
Living in a big city doesn’t mean anonymity. You create your own small town not only by routine but also by friendly conversations. That one conversation leads to getting to know people and before you know it, you have your diet Coke sitting in front of you before your coat is off. The country and less populated areas don’t have the monopoly of small town, neighborly appeal. I never feel as though Denver is too big for me. Even over the decades of growth, I still have my life in the city with a small town flair.
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As I say goodbye to my column, Country Mouse City Mouse, I reflect on what was the purpose of these articles. My goal for writing it was to bridge the perceived gap between city people and country people. We already have so many misconceptions that seem to divide us these days. Country Mice and City Mice have the same goals in life but may just go about reaching them differently. Not one has it better or easier and not one is better than the other. We definitely need each other. City people have horses, ducks, chickens, rabbits and goats to name a few and I suppose a number of beasts living below the code enforcement radar. We love to grow our own food, make our own honey and brew our own beer. Some of the city kids participate in 4-H, county and state fairs. Heck, Denver just started its own county fair this past year! The world is getting smaller as we become connected by fiber optics and Internet highways. There is no room for separation and divide. We choose where we live and we make it our own no matter if its country or city.
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