What's it like doing transactions in a small town? Two quick examples from my last 24 hours should give a good idea.
First off is dealing with our Township government. We have just a handfull of elected officials, and each one wears several hats; the Clerk is in charge of voter registration and election administration, among other things. In recent days, it's occurred to me that there is a chance I may get called out of town on business next Tuesday --- the day of the Michigan presidential primary. As it's extremely important for me to vote, I thought I'd inquire about getting an absentee ballot. I wasn't optimistic; in most larger places where we've lived, it's necessary to get those requests in far in advance of the election. It's probably too late, I told myself, but it never hurts to ask.
Forgetting that yesterday was a government holiday, I called the local township clerk shortly before their usual closing time (they're only open for a few hours, and only a few days a week). I was kicked into voice mail, and left a message with my name and number and a question: "I was wondering if there was still time to request an absentee ballot?" I didn't ask for one. I didn't say I wanted one. Just wanted to know if the deadline had passed.
The rest of the afternoon passed, and Mrs. Yeoman Farmer and I left the Yeoman Farm Children with their grandfather and went off to attend the Jackson County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner. It was a terrific event, and the two of us had a nice evening out together. The keynote speaker was J.C. Watts, of whom Mrs. Yeoman Farmer in particular has been a big fan for many years.
We returned fairly late that evening. As the Yeoman Farm Children prepared to milk the goats, I went to my office and checked for email and voice messages. To my surprise, the township clerk had called back. In the message, she apologized for getting back to me so late, and said she'd put an absentee ballot request form in the mail to me, and that I'd probably get it Wednesday, and that I could then come right down and get my ballot and just make sure it was back by election day.
Think about that for a minute. This is a government official, hard at work even on a government holiday. She's never met me and doesn't know me from Joe Blow up the street, but (on a holiday), she not only took the time to return my call and answer my question --- she looked up my address on the voter rolls and put a ballot request in the mail.
Can you imagine this happening in Los Angeles County?
That was last night. This morning's transaction wasn't quite as dramatic...but is still noteworthy. My 4x4 truck was getting low on gas, and snow was falling, and I wanted to make sure I had a full tank before taking goats to the butcher tomorrow. I ran a mile or so into town, pulled up to the pump...and did not swipe a credit card or deposit any money. I simply inserted the pump nozzle in my gas tank, selected the grade, and pumped about 18 gallons of gas. I put the nozzle back in its place, strolled into the shop, and only then paid for the fuel I'd pumped.
When was the last time you ever did that?
This particular gas station is owned by a family that's been in the area so long, there are rural roads named after them. They also run a fuel oil and propane delivery service; when I need propane or oil, I simply walk past the front counter, go talk to one of the guys in a back office (usually the same guy who'll be driving the truck), and tell him I need my tank filled. I don't give my name, or my address. They just know. Heck, sometimes when the company's owner (the guy with the road named after his family) is out driving around making oil deliveries and we haven't gotten oil in a while...he'll just stop his truck at our farm and ask if we need any. "We're going to be having some nasty weather," he might say, "and I just wanted to check."
Has this ever happened to you, where you live?
Such is rural life in mid-Michigan.