Day 29: Small Town Life

Up until 3 years ago, I have always lived in the ‘burbs, somewhere partway between Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD. No matter what you wanted, you could usually find it without driving more than 10 or 15 minutes in any given direction. The city I lived in had a population of over 15,000 and the county overall was over 300,000 people crammed into about 253 square miles. My how things have changed…

Here on the Oregon Coast, things are a lot fewer and farther between. Now, don’t get me wrong, we have Safeway, Fred Meyer, a movie theater (with 1 screen), and several restaurants all within 10 miles…but Target? Nope. No Walmart, either. And a shopping mall? Forget it. The closest of any of those is an hour and a half drive over the Coastal Range to the Portland metro area. The population of the town I’m in now? Around 400. The entire county has a population of a little over 25,000 people, spread over 1,333 square miles.

So, long story short, I live in a pretty small town, which is a new experience for me. I’ve gone from not knowing the first names of the people across the hall from me to knowing the first and last names of everyone in my neighborhood. (Of course, the fact that I manage the HOA has helped with that.) We have weekly dinners at the local watering hole where anyone that’s around is welcome to show up. Everybody knows everybody. Sometimes it’s a little annoying that everybody knows your business, but occasionally, it works in your favor.

We’ve got a flagpole outside my office that flies the US flag. Two or three months ago, I noticed that the edge of the flag seemed to be fraying a little, so I ordered a new flag. (Out in the boonies, you learn pretty quickly that Amazon Prime is your friend…so my flag was there in 2 or 3 days.) Once it arrived, I went out to remove the old flag, only to discover that it wouldn’t lower. One thing our town has in excess is wind, and at some point, the flag must have blown over the top of the pole so that the rope was wrapped around it. It would only lower as far as the crossbar, but no further.

I talked to one of the local contractors who does a lot of work in our neighborhood. He didn’t have a ladder that was tall enough that wouldn’t have to lean against the (not very sturdy) flag pole…but he could set up scaffolding. That seemed like an extreme option to me, to be used only as a last resort. I started to look for alternatives.

I called the local Fire Department to see if they could come out with their truck when they weren’t busy. The Fire Chief (reluctantly) agreed to send someone, but after a month, I figured they’d either forgotten about me or just didn’t want to do it. Next option.

I talked to one of the local electricians who came to my office to pick up someone’s house key. Their company has a bucket truck, and he promised to talk to the guy who runs it about coming by with it to help me out. I let him know that I was appreciative, and fully intended to pay him for his time. Another two or three weeks went by, and no one ever came out, so I thought they’d forgotten about me. Now what?

At this point, the slightly frayed edge of the flag was starting to resemble something Francis Scott Key may have seen flying over Fort McHenry after it was bombarded by the British. There was now a growing hole which tended to get caught on the gaff when the wind blew.

A conversation with our consulting Arborist revealed that one of the local tree service companies that did a lot of work for us had recently purchased a bucket truck. As a last resort, I sent him an email begging for help. He called me a few hours later and said that he would come by within the next few days when he was working nearby. That was a week ago.

This afternoon, I got a call from the electrician from a couple of weeks ago. Apparently he’d been out drinking recently with the tree guy, who’d mentioned that he was planning to come and help me out. Tree guy gave electrician guy grief for not coming out to do it 2 weeks ago. It then turned into a race between the two of them to see who would come out and do it first. Electrician guy won – he came out today and was able to get the flag down, and I successfully installed the new one.

I sent an email to the tree guy, thanking him for goading the other guy into coming out. Come to find out, the electrician is the tree guy’s brother-in-law. Who knew?

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