People are in my business

People are in my business

It’s the biggest complaint about small town livin’. People know your business. People make comments about your business. People get involved in your business. It’s time I address this common complaint. When I was on a recent trip to New York City, one of our tour guides said, “In a big city, you can be who you are without worrying about what people think.” Hmm. That gave me pause to consider the freedom a big city has to offer versus the magnifying glass of a small town. I came to a conclusion. I need people in my business. I need to know that I can’t go to the grocery store to buy a case of Little Debbies™ and two half-gallons of Blue Bell™ without seeing people I know. I need to realize that if I cut someone off on University Drive, I may be sitting next to them at the ball game later. My kids need to know they’re being watched by a community who knows them and loves them. I may not always like people being in my business. But I need people in my business. With that said, let’s not forget to show a lot of compassion and love in our rural community. We all have problems. Addictions. Angry outbursts. Embarrassing comments or actions. None of us is above the fray of occasional humiliation. Is someone in our community in rehab for drug or alcohol addiction? We should be happy they found help and greet them with support and enthusiasm upon their return. Did someone’s son or daughter go to prison for a grave error in judgment? You might want to set that stone down rather than throwing it. Your son or daughter could be next. And as for those who didn’t live up to their potential, squandered their lives on false hope or fell into a pit of anger or depression, we might want to consider the blessings of a “second chance.” I’ve decided most small towns need a special rehab center. All of us could use some time at the “Me and My Big Mouth” center. It would offer hope and healing for people who can’t seem to keep their mouths shut about other people’s problems. I’m sure there are some who need the full 90-day inpatient treatment. All of us could at least use the 30-day outpatient program. Of course, it would operate on the tough love principle. In order to be released, you’d have to be completely free of the tendency to say, “Did you hear about so and so …” or “How could anybody …” In fact, one could be forcibly re-admitted to the center if they were found in the church bathroom saying, “Did you hear about poor so and so? I mean, how could anybody do something so ridiculous?” Busted. I doubt the “Me and My Big Mouth” center will be opening anytime soon. But let’s all just commit to its principles, shall we? I love living in a small town. I love the fact that people pull over on the side of the road for a funeral procession. I love seeing people I know at the grocery store. I love the kindnesses I see demonstrated every day in this community. And, no, my heart doesn’t long for the big city, even with all the freedom it promises. I need a small town. I need people who love me enough to be in my business. Just remember to be kind. Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at lisa@lisasmartt.com. Published in The Messenger 6.4.08

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