Most People Don’t Know…And Don’t Care

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

Editor’s note: Greg’s Corner is an editorial (opinion) section where Messenger Reporter Greg Ritchie shares odds and ends from the job and unusual or interesting facts from across the world and across time.

MESSENGER OFFICE – I was struck recently, by a post online. A local woman declared that due to the recent rains, her store would be closed and have modified hours the rest of the week. She went on the list each day and the opening and closing times of her business. 

The only problem? She never mentioned her business. 

Now, I am sure she “knows,” everyone “knows” who she is and what business she owns. I get around this county a lot and I didn’t have a clue. 

This got me thinking about life in small towns and with our local high schools about to send dozens of graduates out into the real world, I thought I would point out some of that world’s realities – to the young folks, and a few of the adults, too. 

You wouldn’t know it to look at me these days, but I have gotten around…seen a thing or two. I have climbed Machu Picchu in Peru, sampled local beef in New Zealand, tracked through the snow to visit the dividing line between Europe and Asia, followed Alexander the Great’s invasion of Persia in Turkey…do you see what I mean? I am already boring you. 

While I wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world, one of the drawbacks to growing up and living in a small town is people sometimes think we are just as important to the rest of the world as we are to each other. In a world where there’s a pill for every mood, an excuse for every failure and a trophy for everyone – it’s easy to forget our personal problems are, well, personal. 

Traffic made you late? Leave earlier. You meant to pay the light bill but forgot? Light a candle. I don’t mean to say the world is a cruel place, (although it certainly can be) I just worry some people honestly believe their world and their situation is as important to everyone as it is to them. 

In my job at The Messenger, I work hard to get people to open up and tell me their life’s story. From shy students to reluctant government folks, I love it when people talk to me and tell me what’s going on. 

For some, though, the transition from, “My child is the bravest, smartest, most popular kid at the school,” to “I am sorry we lost your paperwork, what was your name again?” will be jarring. It’s like that person who buys gifts for everyone that only have to do with that person’s interest or hobby. 

People who get mad at teachers: “Of course he couldn’t do the homework – grandma is in town!” Or coaches: “The coach is obviously terrible. MY child is clearly the best athlete.” Or local journalists: “That newspaper guy only has one leg. That makes him biased.”

As Michael Corleone once said, you have to think like people around you think. If you tell a joke and no one laughs, you can’t win them all. If someone asks you the time and you tell them about your amazing nephew for thirty minutes, notice them glancing at their watch and looking off into space. If you own a local business, don’t assume everyone automatically knows who you are and what you do. There will always be people to help you when you need it, but most of our personal, family conflicts are no worse than anyone else’s and they’ve got problems of their own. 

To our graduating seniors: go out and see the world, but try to not be corrupted by it. Don’t be alarmed when the people at the big city store change every week and no one knows your order by heart. Do not be alarmed when not everyone immediately celebrates your greatness. Do not be surprised when no one cares who your parents are. Go and conquer the world, while never forgetting your own fallibility.

You are our future! Learn what you can and then return to us, to make this place better and stronger.

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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