Posts Tagged ‘rockville ct’

Too Big to Be Mean

A post on the Perseverance Press blog by the bestselling Wendy Hornsby sparked a discussion about big city v small town.

Rather than usurp her space-time in her comments section, I’m blogging in my own space.

I’ve lived in big cities (New York City, Boston) and small towns (Rockville, Connecticut) and some in between (Hartford, CT and four in CA).

Too close together for unfriendliness

My own impression is that big cities are like small towns. Each block in the Bronx is like a village. Each large apartment house in Manhattan is a small town. People who share an elevator (and, in the old days, a bathroom) have to get along or they’ll be miserable.

The bigger the city, the more likely you can bend rules; the same is true in small towns. It’s in the middle — the suburbs — where everything gets tight and friendliness is not necessary for survival.

My first experience in a suburb was my first year in California, 1974. I lived on a tree-lined street, with all separate, unattached houses; each house had its own garage and back yard—a first for me! Whereas in cities or small towns, it’s the stoop or the front porch that brings people in contact with neighbors, in the suburbs the gatherings take place in the back yard, and only among the invited.

I lived in one house an entire summer and never saw my neighbors. A garage door would go up, having been activated from a distance; a car would enter; the garage door would come down. I’d never see the driver or the occupants of the car. Not possible in a big city!

We all have endless personal anecdotes about the issue of big cities/suburbs/small towns, so I’ll limit myself to just one.

It had been a few years since I’d ridden the subway in NYC. Oblivious to the fact that  a system of tokens had gone into effect, I tried to insert my quarter into the slot, holding up a long line of people. A guy of indeterminate age pulled me aside. His touch was gentle, but his voice was scolding.

“C’m’ere, lady,” he said, annoyed. He led me to the token booth, losing his place in line, and scolding me all the way. He instructed me on buying tokens, waited until the transaction was completed, then he was on his way. Not exactly polite, but the best kind of friendly—he took care of my problem.

In a similar situation with public transportation system in the suburbs of  Northern California (I know, I really need to keep up with local changes, wherever I live) no fewer than five well-dressed people walked by me, moving to the next turnstile, politely tsk tsk-ing me. Very polite. And useless.

So, what are your stories? Big cities or small towns?