top of page

Things People Who've Lived in a Small-Town Understand

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

Things People Who've Lived in a Small-Town Understand-Julian, CA
This photo is copyright of Jennifer Gutierrez. © 2019 - 2022 by Jennifer Gutierrez.

No matter what size city you move too, you can’t take the small-town out of you. If you grew up in rural America, your roots will always be a part of you. Us map dot town kids will probably relate to these things.


What's that? Most shops and restaurants are closed by 6:00 p.m. A few restaurants are open for dinner. Get to the liquor store by 9:00 p.m., or you’ll have to live without it for the night.

Jaywalking is legal where you come from.

Yep, in small towns, like Julian, two controlled interesting and crosswalks are few and far between.

Getting featured in the local paper is normal.

There’s a good chance that you will end up on the cover of the paper twenty times before you graduate from high school. In addition, there’s always room for letters to the editor, so you're also a published author.

Someone is always watching.

People who live in small-towns are very observant. We know what is normal so it is very easy to see what may be suspicious. You probably won’t get away with anything here. (For example, someone once tapped my parked car while parallel parking on Main Street. The person didn’t leave me a note. Three different locals saw this, wrote down their license plate, and told me about the incident. Nice try buddy, but you’re busted!)

High school dating was....interesting.

There was always a good chance you were friends with your date’s ex. It was also hard to avoid someone when you had chemistry (pun intended) class with them. It’s important to note that your class size was under 30 students.

There are no secrets.

None. That is unless the rumor is about you. It’s always interesting what you can learn about yourself that you didn’t even know. All false rumors aside, the general rule of thumb is if you don’t want someone to know about it, then don’t do it.

The teachers always compare you with your siblings.

Small-towns and small schools go together like peanut butter and jelly. The likelihood of your siblings all having Mrs. B for kindergarten, Mrs. Cox for 4th grade, and Mr. Pederson for junior high history is guaranteed. The likelihood that those same teachers taught one of your parents is probable. Scary thought I know. “You act just like your sister.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that one. Then there’s the occasional “Your brother was great at spelling. Why aren’t you?” ”hmmmm...maybe I’M NOT MY BROTHER!”

“Running errands” takes hours.

Running errands really means at least an hour of driving, stopping at ten different stores, and grabbing your coffee fix before you head home.

Visiting family in the city is an absolute culture shock.

What do you mean you don’t know your neighbors? Who feeds your dog when you’re out of town? Who do you borrow a cup of sugar from when you run out? Who do you call when the cows get out? Who watches for strange cars in the neighborhood??

You're either on the cops’ good side or bad.

“Everybody knows everybody,” is a notorious stereotype of small-towns. That includes local law enforcement. For the most part, officers assigned to the town live in the community. They are neighbors, parents, friends, and members of the community. It doesn’t take long for them to know the trouble makers by name.

Your family thinks you live in the untamed wild west portrayed on old tv shows and books.

Your family yells, "Don't get eaten by a mountain lion!" while waving goodbye to you as you drive off. Then on the rare occasion, they come to visit you, one of your relatives almost steps on the only rattlesnake you've seen this year so now your case that you live a civilized life is out the door, again.

You have a habit of checking sell-by dates.

In sleepy little towns, things move at a slower pace. That includes merchandise on store shelves. Independent store owners have a tough task of trying to keep a large variety of fresh products on their shelves. Out-of-date items often fall through the cracks. (I’ve received out-of-date items from big box stores.) It’s best to get in the habit of checking dates before you buy things. For some newcomers, it’s a bit of a culture shock, but in the big scheme of things, it’s only a minor inconvenience.

You're used to waiting days for the technician to make a house call.

Every time you need any sort of repairman just expect it to take them three to fourteen days to be able to come to your home.


bottom of page