Friday, January 21, 2005

Crabfont: Talented or Sour?

Crabfont: that's what the local major town is called. I lie; Crabfont is really an anagram. By major town, I mean that it has a population of about 3 000 (rough guesstimate only), which doesn't sound very major at all. However, because it is the biggest centre for many, many miles, and, because it serves as the central place of a large recreational area whose population can swell dramatically according to the season, Main Street can be a very busy place indeed. Even on a mid-January day like today, there was traffic aplenty.

Cuppa noticed a new sign hanging prominently and proudly for all to admire: Congratulations to the Most Talented Town in Ontario. We don't know its precise derivation, but one could speculate that some survey or other had concluded that Crabfont has more artists and artisans per capita than any other town in the province.

Even if we are correct about that dubious assumption, we don't know whether it has solely been measured against other legally-designated towns of similar size or whether the term has been used loosely and applies to any urban centre of any size. I cannot conceive that it could be the latter. Indeed, I find it hard to conceive that it could be the former, for I have passed through some fairly artsy little places in my various and sundry excursions, and Crabfont is not by any stretch of this man's imagination an artsy little place.

I suppose it would depend on how one might go about the business of classifying people as talented. Do you go by self-assessment? "Yes, I drew a tree once, and my kindergarten teacher told me that it was real good." Whatever: I rather doubt that a serious audit took place; surely talent-inspectors didn't really descend en masse to test the local populace holus bolus (whatever that means and however it's suppposed to be written).

To tell you the truth, I am rather vexed with Crabfont tonight — the astute reader possibly having already deduced such. I think I am vexed because we have thought, rather seriously in fact, of relocating to this general region. In fact my very first blog, Country Mouse, City Mouse was a sort of reflection about moving to the country, and I had this area in mind at the time. (Truth time: it was actually my second blog, but the first basically said: "I have a blog now everybody" and became a casualty of my late-summer purge of my stupider efforts, and something informs me that this blog may very well become a casualty of the next purge.)

Today, I am perturbed by Crabfont because, for the first time really, I took stock of the demeanour of the clerks that I encountered. We went to one coffee shop (Tim's, of course), two grocery stores, and one pharmacy — once upon a time known as a drugstore, and I find it a bloomin' pity that this usage has fallen by the wayside.

In total, I encountered six servers or cashiers today. One was quite pleasant and chirpy. Two saluted me with a customary words of greeting, but neither their hearts, voices, or facial muscles verified the truth of their words. Three didn't bother with any sort of greeting, and one of the three was positively sour. Maybe the sign should proclaim Congratulations to the Sourest Town in Ontario.

One out of six: that's not a a terribly meritorious track record. I'm sure there are friendly people in Crabfont and friendly clerks for that matter, but they were as scarce as hen's teeth today, which, as you know, are pretty darn scarce.

Then I got to thinking that things aren't much better at the grocery store in the nearby village Slyape (also an anagram.). The usual checkout guy is getting on in years and by rights should be enjoying that famous dance: The Retirement Rock. Perhaps, he is grumpy because economic realities force him to work in his golden years, and I can appreciate how that would tend to leave a fellow a trifle short of being deliriously happy. I can understand that, but I can also understand that today's percentages weren't good: the sourpusses won by a wide margin. Actually, it was a blowout.

The article which caused me to begin my blogging obsession by penning the immortal (yeah sure) City Mouse, Country Mouse had mentioned this small-town proclivity: to be rather cool and standoffish to outsiders. But give me a break. These are places that owe their existence to the recreational industry. If we stop coming, they stop working. However, we're forced to offer them our custom regardless because there is simply nowhere else to go.

To some degree I can understand that the locals may feel that they have good reason to dislike the various and sundry Mr and Mrs Cityslickers who have divested princely sums in their gobbling of all the precious, local lakeside property. Five hundred grand would not necessarily yield you a prince's mansion in these parts: not on a lakefront lot anyway.

I can understand that there might be a tad of resentment over this invasion of the well-heeled, but I have a mild propensity to become a trifle nettled when I am the victim of stereotyping. Heck! I can barely afford to holiday here rent free, so I resent being assumed a rich and obnoxious city slicker who desperately requires an attitude adjustment.

I don't think that I am doing the same thing in this blog. I don't think that I am stereotyping Crabfont or the people in it. It may simply have been a bad day. Even if it was a typical day, I know that there are friendly folk there too. I know because I met one in the coffee shop once.

I wonder if I would really be social pariah in a place such as this? I am not really sure that I care, for I'm sure that I could meet other pariahs. Perhaps we could even start a pariah club: No Local Insiders Welcome. However, when push comes to shove, I don't suppose that I need to feel welcomed by the checkout person. It's just that I've gotten kind of used to be treated nicely in stores and restaurants and a change from the norm tends to bring one up a bit short.

When I'm in this mood, I think that I may as well move here. I'd simply be just one more crab in Crabfont.


1 comment:

karla said...

I am glad to hear that I am not the only person who looks for sincerity in people when I am greeted or acknowledged!

I recently took a communications course (I am fortunate that my organization allows me to choose a course every year that I would like to receive training in).

The course was fantastic. I learned a lot about various communication styles, and methods of communicating with different personality types, but there was something missing. After class one day, I approached the professor and explained that although I was enjoying the course, and could indeed apply much of what I had learned to both my professional and personal life, I felt the underlining message about the motivations of communication were missing. How can you communicate effectively without sincerity? The professor just smiled and explained that teaching people a lesson in sincerity was beyond the scope of the course. Some of us, unfortunately, don’t seem to understand words account for so little of what we’re actually saying!