…to bring you a perspective from the other cubical. As Sketch and Shannon are on the outskirts of Disney World cussing the heat and humidity I’m stuck here trying to draw stick figures on the back of business cards, carrying on a legacy that is just as much infamous as famous. “Hey Probie, wanna write a blog?” I was asked by the gentle giant as he stood over my shoulder with a look on his face that said my answer wasn’t up for debate. I mean, how hard could it be? You pick a topic and write about it for a while. You just pick a topic…a topic…what the heck am I going to write about?
I grew up in Roberts, WI which is home to Good Neighbor Days that takes place every weekend following Memorial Day. It begins with a community dinner hosted by the local bank on that Thursday and goes through Sunday evening after the parade and one more piece of grilled chicken. It’s your standard town festival complete with music, a couple different motorsports events, way too much food and everything you need to wash it all down. It signifies the start of summer, and you’re guaranteed to see faces you haven’t seen since the year before.
The Good Neighbor community taught me a lot over my first 18 years, and has continued to do so over the last 17. Being neighborly means more than a halfhearted wave as you drive by, or peeking through the blinds when that darn dog across the street starts barking again. It means pointing newcomers to the Café on Main Street and letting them know to get there early if they want a homemade donut. It means shoveling the neighbor’s sidewalk because you’re already out there and Lord knows you had too much pizza the night before and could use the exercise. It’s overhearing someone had car troubles and you know Tommy’s shop is open late so you give them his number.
Growing up in Small Town USA you take for granted what it means to trust your neighbor, rely on the community and look towards the “old farts” for their stories and wisdom. It isn’t until that is started to be taken away that you realize how important it is. Industry moves in and with it comes lots of new faces. New faces that have their own stories, their own Good Neighbor community and their own ideas as to what it means to be neighborly. After a while these ideals start to clash bringing turmoil, hostility and a real threat to the charm and character the little town had to begin with. Not because anyone is trying to establish a new dominance, but because it’s all they’ve ever known. As someone who left small town Americana and moved to a little place called Tokyo at the age of 19 I can assure you there is a real desire to show the new locals how you were raised and what you’re beliefs are. Now it may be a little more impactful in a town of 1,200 than in a city of 1,200,000 but you catch my drift.
This is just a small example of what is happening all over rural America, and more specifically the towns within our ServPro franchise territory. But as someone who strives to turn it around for myself and my neighbors, we’ve got to remember there are future generations moving in that need their own “old farts” to turn to for wisdom and guidance. So next time you’re on Facebook and read about all the negativity happening in local politics or about how they’re building a Kwik Trip that’ll delay your commute to work by 6 minutes (because you can’t just pass by a Kwik Trip, trust me)…just go outside and realize the world isn’t on fire. Go be the neighbor you want to have. Shovel that driveway. Silence the noise and be the calm everyone seems to be looking for.