Tourist season |

Tourist season

June is upon us which means the trickle of tourists visiting our state will increase. This is not a bad thing. Tourists bring money which is a boon to rural communities, but often, tourists and newcomers have a mite of difficulty interpreting the way-out-west culture. Generally, locals don’t want change. The way things were done in granddad’s day is the way everything should continue. No fancy improvements, thank you.

Before we were blessed with a spanking new United States Post Office erected on the edge of town, the P.O. was located on Main Street in our small community. The Post Office was a favored site for mid-morning palaver. The curb was painted yellow to indicate temporary parking only. Most people respected that and limited their conversations, but if still deeply into fixing the world’s problems, most local drivers backed their vehicles away from the curb and drove four doors down to angle-park in front of the drug store where they could finish saving the world through discourse or bemoan the paltry price of livestock.

Tourists and newcomers, insensitive to local custom, often left their outfits overlong in the front of the P.O. which meant other folks were forced to park a half block away and actually walk the distance!

The following anecdote might offer a tad of insight to the basic differences twixt rural-small-town culture and big-city push-and-shove … and might not.


Clyde and Shorty, their pickups angle-parked next to each other on Main Street, were leaning against the back end of Clyde’s pickup bed. They were deep in a discussion.

Clyde: “I hear them town council boys wanna make us switch to parallel parking on Main Street.”

Shorty, spitting a punctuation onto the pavement: “Shoot, why’nt they leave things be? Ain’t no reason to change.”

Clyde: “Kinda sad ain’t it? We been parking this way back when these here mechanized hayburners was first invented.” He kicked a tire, gazed into the distance for a spell, then added “Hells bells, I remember when ya hadda be careful not to scare the horses.”

Clyde, crossing his arms and staring at his boots: “What’s the world comin’ to?” Shorty, poking a finger under his hat to scratch an itchy spot: “Heckuva thing. “Ain’t them council fellers got nothin’ better to do? Last month they said everybody had to keep their cats on a leash and you know what happened then.”

Clyde, sighing deeply: “Uh-huh. Mrs. Bjornson’s tabby purt near hanged itself trying to chase a varmint up a tree. Got the leash tangled around a branch. Woulda been dead if Mr. Bjornson hadn’t got his tall ladder and used his huntin’ knife to cut the critter loose.”

Shorty: “By gosh, that was a lucky cat.”

Clyde: “Yeah, ya can’t always count on somebody having a tall ladder.”

Shorty and Clyde peeled away from leaning on the pickup and clambered into their cabs. It was time to move on. At the corners, Clyde turned one way, Shorty the other. A few moments later, the two pickups met again on Main Street. Clyde tapped his horn. Shorty’s pickup halted parallel to Clyde’s.

Clyde, rolled down his offside window: “Forgot to tell you — the town council passed another new rule about vehicles.”

Shorty: “Busy boys ain’t they. What’d they figure to make us do this time?”

Clyde: “We ain’t s’posed to stop in the middle of a street and talk back and forth between pickups.”

Behind Clyde, two cars lined up like dude horses on a trail ride. Behind Shorty one automobile idled its motor as it waited to move on. From the curb on Clyde’s side, an angle-parked auto shot back till its rear bumper whacked against his pickup — which didn’t really cause any discernable damage amid the other dents and dings. At the same moment, a car on Shorty’s side pulled away from the curb and its rear end banged into Shorty’s pickup — again with similar mild damage to an already beat-up fender.

Shorty, disgust thickening his voice: “Well, can ya beat that?! You’d think them drivers would watch what they’re doin’.”

Clyde, with a sad shake of his head: “Yeah, you’d think so. That feller must be a tourist.” ❖

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