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  • suzannenorquist

Small Towns – Don’t Ask Google

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

I remember the days of asking people for directions and recommendations.  The days before Google and Facebook. I’m not even sure when my phone became the go-to resource for everything.

Even at the dinner table, I’ll consult my phone if the information is relevant in the moment.

“What time does the hardware store close?”

I finish chewing and pull out my phone.  “Eight o’clock.  Enough time to wash the dishes before we go there.”

It’s not rude if it enhances the conversation. Right?

I used to ask for directions and carefully write down all of the details. “Turn left at the place that used to be the Dairy Queen. Go past the third tree to the house with the blue door.”

I’m moving to a small town and my Googling knowledge fails me in important ways. I must actually speak to people and look at my surroundings.

For the most part, Google maps will take me to the correct location.  But I don’t always recognize it when I get there. I drove past my new post office several times.

Google said, “You have arrived.”  I didn’t see a post office.  Then I stopped and squinted at the shadows of letters that used to be above the door.

Once inside, the post office looked normal. But, a direction like, “Look for the brown adobe building next to the old loan place,” would have been helpful.

Google failed me when I needed a windshild chip repair.  I called the only auto glass place on the list.  “We don’t do that.  Call Matt. Here is his number.”

My go-to solutions fail me as well.

I called my insurance agent for a quote on my new home. “We don’t insure homes there.”

So I asked the real estate agent.  She gave three suggestions, all which had the word Farm in their name. Hmmm.

I called the national satellite internet company. “We can’t set you up with service right away.  Call back in a couple of weeks.”

So, I called my real estate agent.  She suggested two companies with Native American names.

Elements from the city have been dropped into the small town.  When inside the Walgreens, I could be in Philadelphia or Washington D.C.  The same tile floors.  The same sized aisles.  And, the same online and texting services.

Local businesses sit next to city franchises.  Many don’t choose to pay for website development or Facebook page management. People already call Mike for a windshield chip and ask Barb about hair color. No need to look it up.

Because of the limited internet presence, word-of-mouth rules.

I need to find a church, a doctor, a dentist, and most of all. . . a coffee shop.

My Starbucks app keeps flashing a picture of a coffee cup across my phone. I could drive an hour to get the advertised special.

Instead, I use my punch card at the local coffee shop. The one without a fancy app. Local shops are more fun anyway.

I guess I’ll have to start talking to people if I want information.

Good thing I like talking to people.

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