Sunday, September 24, 2006

Interstate Mobility (Or: Does Walmart Still Sell Go-Heads?)

* * *
But my bed is in a small town,
Oh, and that's good enough for me....
* * *
("Small Town", John Mellencamp)
(I apologize in advance for the messed up text and punctuation of this blog entry--the blog site's acting up something awful--and I want to THROW THIS COMPUTER OUT THE WINDOW--and things aren't even responding to cussing.....)
Anyway...I've thought about it for a long time....and I'm finally gonna do it.
I'm going to move ALL THE WAY to the podunk town where my company's home office is.
One reason I want to move is that my current abode is a D-U-M-P.
It's a crummy place where the managers (aka slumlords) never do any repairs, never spray for bugs, don't care about anything except whether or not you pay the rent on time, never replace anything that's broken--and the place is just plain falling apart around my ears. I have suffered for waaaay too long in this damp and smelly place with its wet carpets, frequently broken garbage disposal, frequently broken toilet, roaches the size of small dogs, a leaking air-conditioner, a bigger leak from a damaged water-heater, electrical lights which dim at will, broken window-shades which have never been replaced, etc.--and I can't stand it anymore!
Also, this dump is an inconvenient 47 miles away from my company's office--which means it's also 47 miles away from all my friends and co-workers. My Road Nurse company contract does reimburse me for the gas that I use to see patients, but I have to pay for my own gas to and from the office every day, which for me is a 94-mile round trip--which in today's gas prices is a big OUCH.
But this move is definitely something I've had to think about--in fact, it's taken me a whole year to make the decision. The reason I've had to think about it is because that podunk town is even more isolated and much more far away from civilization than I've ever lived before. All the towns in this part of the state are small and isolated--but this town is REALLY small and isolated. And I mean isolated.
So I've carefully weighed the pros and cons while making my decision. I did finally come to the conclusion that I was ready to do what is referred to in podunk real estate lore as "Interstate Mobility"....which means that I am going to "move further on down the Interstate". In fact, I have already staked myself out a nice little place in my new podunk town and have scheduled the packers & movers.
(I don't really know why I refer to it as my "new" podunk town--since I've already been working there, shopping there, hanging out with friends there, seeing my own doctor there, and seeing many of my patients there for quite some time--the only thing I wasn't doing was sleeping there.)
- Anyhoo, these are some of the Pros and Cons I've considered while making my decision: (and I'll start with the cons.....) - Cons of The New Podunk Town: - 1. It's waaaay-far-the-hell away from anywhere else on the face of the planet.
In fact, it's so dang far away from anywhere that's got any shopping (i.e. toy stores, sporting goods stores, malls, etc.) that the entire town considered placing a Class-Action lawsuit against Sears & Roebuck when they did away with their "Wish Book". Why the hell did they do that? Are they nuts? To this day the kids around here have no earthly idea how to tell their parents WHAT to tell Sanny Clause to get them for Christmas. And stupid Walmart has yet to put out a Wish Book, although plenty of us would like to smack them upside their heads for that fact. -
2. There is no mall.
Although I personally don't hang out at malls, this brings up the Christmas thing again--because the only thing my niece likes for Christmas is gift certificates from the most expensive durn stores in the mall. So when I move down there I'll have to enlist the assistance of my mother, who does live in a town with a small mall. -
3. Everybody in town knows your business.
It doesn't matter HOW SECRETIVE you try to be-- if you do something you don't want anybody to know about, somebody will inevitably find out and blab their fool heads off. You could conduct your daily life like Salman Rushdie but it wouldn't matter a hoot--every detail of your business will be a public record sooner or later. For example, I can't even go to the grocery store to buy soda pop without hearing somebody--even a perfect stranger-- say: "Oh, you're one of the Road Nurses for such and such company? Didn't you used to work for the other Road Nurse company--the one owned by so-and-so whose mother taught my bail-bondsman's kids in school?--and they said their daddy arrested some bad boys who are related to your new Road Nurse company's boss?--and they were in the cell with the nephew of the mayor?--and his wife makes the cupcakes for the WMU?---and she told me that their preacher got in trouble with liquor when someone saw him stopping by the bootlegger's house after church last Sunday?--and his daughter works for the hospital with your boss's cousin?--and one of her patients in the hospital is now your home health patient?--and I know her and she says that you have a tattoo of barbed wire around your left arm because you used to be married to a biker when you lived in the big city?" -
(It could go on and on...but I'll stop there.....)
(And yes...I do have a tattoo of barbed wire around my arm, but it's the RIGHT arm, dammit.)
4. Every single business in town closes at 4 pm.
The reason this is bad is because that means that you can't get a damn thing done after work. You've got to take time off from work for every single time you need to a) go to the doctor; b) go to the dentist; c) get your roots dyed; d) take your vaccuum cleaner to be repaired; e) get a new tire on the Jeep; or f) do anything at the bank. It's a pain in the ass. (Except, of course, at quitting time.....when YOU, too, get off work that early....)
5. The town's preachers and other authority figures are all over the place--you can't hide.
You have to watch EVERYTHING you do. Especially if you're sinful like me. For example, last Tuesday I was gossiping my head off in the line at McDonalds with Belinda when I suddenly realized-- to my everlasting mortification-- that I was standing right next to the preacher of the First Baptist Church. If you've never lived in a small, Texan town, let me clue you in---there is NOBODY like a Baptist preacher to make you feel guilty as hell. Lord, you don't want to be caught sinning in public by a Baptist preacher, belieeeeeeeeve me. The look he gave me made me wish I could fall down into the floor and be buried over by 10,000 Chicken McNuggets. I'll be asking forgiveness from The Lord till doomsday over this one.... (The only thing worse than being caught sinning in public by a Baptist preacher is......well, I can't really think of anything worse right now. I still feel too guilty over this.)
(From now on I'm going to meet Belinda at Taco Bell--nobody ever spotted him there....)

6. There are no "fashion seasons" and there's only one place to shop.
There is only Walmart Winter, Walmart Summer, and Walmart Clearance Rack. If you want anything else you'll have to take a weekend off and drive to Dallas.
7. And the local managers of Walmart dictate exactly WHAT goes onto the shelves of Walmart.
This is a conservative church town. There are no "middy tops", no bikinis, no blue fingernail polish, no purple hair dye, no half-nekkid Barbie outfits, no see-through nighties, no navel jewelry, no nose rings, and no music CD's with the F-word in them. As I said before, if you want anything else, you'll have to take a weekend off and drive to Dallas.
8. Nothing happens here on Sunday.
Again, this is a conservative church town. The Blue Laws rule. The only thing open on Sunday here is Walmart, and that is strictly so that people can go there after church to get the fixin's for Sunday Dinner, Banana Puddin', and maybe some last-minute deer-hunting gear. There is a county nearby which sells liquor on Sundays, but woe betide the reputation of the person who is spotted driving down THAT highway on a Sunday.
(Which is why bootleggers flourish.....)
Whew.....that's enough of the Cons. So after that dismal list, which is somewhat disturbing, let us now take a look at the Pros.....
Pros of the New Podunk Town:
1. If you like the great outdoors, this is the place for you.
Here's a picture of an average ranch that I drive to for my visits (see those lazy cows lollygagging under the shade trees?):
(Definitely a pleasant place to live and work.)
2. There's a SuperWalmart with a Tire Center.
Few things are so useful to a busy Road Nurse as a SuperWalmart and a Tire Center, you know what I mean?
3. For a small town, it has lots more fast food places than a lot of other podunk towns in this part of The Wild Wild West.
In fact, there's McDonalds, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Sonic, and Wendy's. There's also some "independent" family-run joints like "Joe's BBQ Shack", "Jim-Bob's Buffett & Grill", "Bo-Diddly's Bowling Alley/Cafe", and "Mamma Luke's Home-Cooked Flapjacks & Luncheon Deli".
(Friendly warning here....Mamma Luke's flapjacks are great but don't go on Thursday mornings because that's when Mama Luke goes "big grocery shopping" at Walmart and leaves her daughter-in-law to do the cooking-- and her daughter-in-law can't cook a decent flapjack to save her life.)
4. The town is pretty much run by old-fashioned, law-abiding, church-going, kind-hearted, generous people.
Which means that things run on a pretty even keel and there's very little craziness. Geena-Lou once stopped her pick-up truck on the side of the road to whup her sassy 9-year old kid's butt for hitting his sister-- and nobody called Child Protective Services on her like they might have in the big city.
(This poor kid has gotten in trouble TWICE in the last month for stuff like this---Geena-Lou had to take away his ropes last week because he roped his 4-year old brother around the neck in the calf pen while practicing his lassos for the next livestock show--and she said she got double-mad because the whole time she was yelling at him her husband was laughing his head off because the kid kept hollering: "But Ma, I only roped the idgit cuz he was bawling like a stupid dogie!")
(We're going to have to keep an eye on that kid.....)
(And Geena-Lou is still harping about the fact that she broke one of her "best" flip-flops whuppin' him that day on the side of the road.)
(What I want to know is, is how much "best" can a flip-flop be? Would that be versus the "everyday" flip-flops? I thought flip-flops were flip-flops....)
(Many people in this town are still old-fashioned enough to call flip-flops"go-heads". My father called them go-heads.) (Lots of my patients call them go-heads.)
(I think the term go-heads could be used for the designation of "everyday" flip-flops, leaving the term "flip-flops" for someone's "best" flip-flops--wouldn't that make sense?) (I'll mention this to Geena-Lou tomorrow.)
Where was I? Oh yeah.....back to the Pros....
5. There is only one, small hospital.
Which is great because a Road Nurse can find any doctor in town, whenever she wants, by calling the hospital's operator. You simply call the hospital's operator and have her page whatever doctor you're hunting. The proper way to phrase this request in "small town-speak" is as follows: "Hello, Bertha-Lynn? I'm trying to get a'holt of Doc Jenkins."
(Translation in hickese: "get a'holt of" means "get in touch with".)
*(It can also mean you're trying to harness a stubborn horse in the round pen.)
Anyhoo, this usually works great--except for times like the other day when I had to call back because the dang doctor never returned my call. I was a little irate because the particular patient I was calling about had a problem which needed attention right then. "Ma'am, he never called me back," I complained to the operator on duty. "Well don't blame me," she sassed back. "I paged him when you first called but his cows got out and I imagine he's still out at his ranch gettin' 'em all back in. But I'll page him again." (This fact was confirmed later when the grouchy doctor called me back and hollered into the phone: "I heard Bertha-Lynn's page the first damn time while I was out in the pasture. Now what in the devil are you callin' me about?" )
- 6. Being a woman has its advantages.
This area is still very much part of the "Old South" (albeit it over-to-the-left a little...) and gentlemen around here consider it their fervent duty to help a lady--any lady--with heavy work or anything else that she can't manage. I once bought a 32-inch television at Walmart and whined about how I didn't know how I'd get the heavy thing out of my vehicle once I got home. The salesman took a break from his shift to help me take the television home and get it hooked up. This is not an uncommon thing in this area, as my mother once experienced the exact same situation last year when she bought something large at a hardware store in her own town. The local grocery store still sends bag boys to carry women's groceries to their car. (And if the bag boy is busy, the general manager comes to do it.)
7. People still have trust in each other.
If you forget your wallet but don't realize it until it's too late and they're already handing you your hamburger at the drive-thru window, you can say: "Oh dang! I am SO SORRY but I forgot my billfold--but I promise I'll come back through here in the morning and pay y'all!" and they'll most likely simply say "That's fine, y'all go on and have a nice day!" and wave you through. (Translation in hickese: a "billfold" is a wallet or small change-purse which can hold paper money.)
8. Everybody tells you to have a nice day.
No matter where you go or what you do, whether at a grocery store, the gas station, a restaurant, or a bank, they'll say "y'all have a nice day! when you leave . Even if it's the jailers saying it when you're bailing a buddy out of jail.
(And nine times out of ten, your buddy will reply with: "You too, now. And tell Earl that we got the deer-lease, and his part is $75--and it's due next Monday.")
9. Nobody holds a bad credit rating against you. (Or a bad marriage, a pick-up truck wreck, a cheatin' spouse, getting into a fist fight, or anything else that has ever happened in a country/western song.)
For example, I have a crappy credit rating, leftover from a bad divorce. But when I confessed it to the manager of the new place I want to rent, she clucked in sympathy, saying: "That's okay, sugar. Your company is owned by Billy-Bob Picketts and I went to school with him--- and that's good enough for me."
10. Being a "good girl" still counts.
And the definition of "good girl" is this:
- you never say the F-word in public (but you can pretty much say any other cuss word you like in public, as long as you say it in a heavy southern accent, drawing one-syllable words out into two syllables--for example, shit is "shee-it" or damn is "day-um"-- because Texan men think it's cute when "good girls" lose their dainty little tempers and cuss like that.) (And they also think it's cute if you throw stuff while you're cussin'---which is why it never works to cuss and throw stuff at Texan men--you've got to practically MAIM THEM before they'll take you seriously.)
(but you are allowed to say the F-word in private twice a year for something REALLY GOOD but you've got to apologize for it over and over again for the next two weeks like you just "don't know what came over you"),
-you always wear a dress to church,
-you always sound reluctant when gossipping and start your sentences with something like this: "I know I shouldn't talk ugly about so-and-so but.....",
-you always end your gossip statements with something like: "...but bless her heart",
-you're always ultra-polite to people older than you,
-in fact you are ALWAYS ultra-polite to everybody in town (no matter WHAT),
-you flirt with old men just to make them feel young again,
-you never appear drunk in public, and
-you know how to make scratch-biscuits.
(However......If, God forbid, you do get caught drunk in public or making Pop-In-Fresh Biscuits, or doing something else that's not necessarily "good girlish"--then as long as you were raised by a mother who was a "good girl" then it's alright--because then people will simply say with a sigh: "Oh she's surely breakin' her poor mother's heart, but she's still a good girl....")
(Oh, and if you can't make scratch-biscuits, the ability to make scratch pie-crust from Crisco counts just as good--but you've got to be able to do it by only rolling it out ONCE.)
(Hey, I can make scratch pie-crust from Crisco--so that means I'm a good girl, right?) (Right?)
(I can't hear you --- RIGHT?)
11. And last, but not least: There's no traffic.
In fact, the only thing that has caused one of our employees to be late all week was when Geena-Lou's donkeys got out and she had to go chase them back into their pen. She harped about it all morning, griping: "Dang it, I was ironing my uniform when I looked up and saw both donkeys lookin' in the winder at me. I chased them all the way back into the pen and got dirt all over my brand new tenny shoes."
(Ever notice how Geena-Lou's got a thing about shoes? First she's pissed about losing a flip-flop in a child-whupping incident, NOW she's pissed about getting her tenny shoes dirty.....) (Who says country girls ain't got fashion sense?)
12. No...I forgot. This is the last, but not least, reason that this podunk town is good: Because I have lots of friends there.
Animal as well as human. In fact, here's one of my best friends, Little Blackie, who's pissed off at me for telling her to "get the hell out of the middle of the road":
(Well, I mean REALLY. I don't go into her pasture so I think she should stay the hell out of the middle of the road.)
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chikashi said...

Hello,nice to see you.
My name is Chikashi Munakata in Japan.
It is interesting blog.

I am making a site introducing blog of all over the earth.

If you can,Could I introduce your blog on my site?

I hope many persons can make good relationship,and get good informations on your site.

Alabamama said...

Oh please be introduced all over the earth! I can think of no blog better able to promote good relationships than yours. The people of Japan - and the earth - better get ready for some serious entertainment. Moving is a great idea. You can spend your extra time and gas money on friends and making weekend trips to Dallas! Who needs a mall? You have a computer...

Anonymous said...

Good luck in your new home! It sounds like it will be a wise move. Uncaring landlords are a pain in the ass - everything (everything!) in our bedroom is currently growing a fine crop of mould because the flat is so damp (and given that this is September in Belfast, Northern Ireland, things are only going to get damper.) I love reading your blog. Seeing a new entry has brightened up my day. The bit about what it takes to be 'a good girl' is great. Wherever you are, it always seems to involve looking reluctant about your wickedness! Thankyou

Sheila said...

Oh, dear Bohemian Road Nurse! This sounds like St. George! And we are also on the interstate. We do have a small mall though. I am a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner and just move here a little over a year ago. My home is a nice little house in town but I swear St. George is like Bodunk, just a little bigger.

CateK said...

Well, darn. I had no idea what a go girl I was 'cause I can make both pie crust and scratch biscuits! I'm so happy! All my sins are forgiven!

Enjoy your new place!

By the way, I'm just a tad jealous for the podunk town I live in has NO fast food at all. In fact, I have to drive 25 miles one way to find a Hardees. Oh well, can't really complain. There's only one stoplight in the whole county and that only went in last year and half of us ignore it....

Dizzywardrobe said...

Bohemian Road Nurse,

I so look forward to reading your exploits and ramblings. I miss living in the 'podunk' towns that I grew up in...Darn this city!!!


C. Zaitz said...

HA! I'm on the third apple pie of the season- Crisco crust and all! By the third one, I put in just enough water so I don't have to mix much, I roll it out once, and I don't even have to fiddle with it much to cover holes and rips..and I can even drop it pretty symmetrically over the apples too!

You make me read faster than I've ever read just to see what happens next. Thanks -it's a great antidote to a Metro Detroit state of mind.

Deb said...

I got a big kick out of reading your blog. What a huge contrast between Podunk and the middle of California! Most of everything you mentioned is the opposite here! Very amusing and entertaining I'd say! Please continue to keep me abreast of your neck of the woods. I may want to move there some day!

masonhow said...

I really get a kick out of your blog. I hope the Baptist minister doesn't start reading your blog, though. Baptist ministers seem to be the Masters of Disapproving Looks. (Or at least rival nuns.)

Please keep writing. Your blog is sooo entertaining. : )

Anonymous said...

I must say I'm always tickled to read about your "small" town descriptions! Heck girl, you don't have a clue what a small town is until you've lived in a New England village. The closest Walmart is 30 miles away, we have 1 fast food outlet, a McDonald's. My NH town has about 3,500 residents strung along about 20 miles of highway. We do have a small supermarket, other local towns do not. (forget to buy milk on you way home? A 20 mile round trip.) NH is not unique there are many similar towns in ME & VT.