After two years I'm still occasionally
reminded that I'm not a local. Living
in a small town in central Montana is
obviously very different than residing
in midtown Manhattan. Throughout
my time here I've slowly developed
a comfort level with my new reality.
Like it or not everything and everyone
moves at their own place. Rarely is time
of the essence and if or when anybody
is watching the clock, it's in anticipation
of finding a way to take the afternoon
off or close up shop early.
Left out in the cold
Little surprises me. Yet even I'm shocked
by the fact that as of now it's been snowing
for twenty four hours. Yes, you read right.
While a few days ago we were well into
the high seventies, now over five inches
of the heaviest wettest white stuff is all
over everything. Thus fully blooming lilac
bushes are now bent over in shame. And
those tender plants many locals planted
last weekend have become icy reminders
that patience is as always of the essence.
Confirmation that one can instantly be out
of their element in Lewistown, Montana.
How do locals react to Mother Nature's
capricious wrath? Apparently most stay
at home. Tonight we'd planned to dine
out at our favorite restaurant. However
given nobody is answering the phone,
it's obvious they've opted to take a snow
day. In desperate need of a haircut before
we fly to Lisbon on Thursday, I stopped
by my barber. Only to discover the shades
drawn and door locked. So like it or not,
business as usual in central Montana is
exactly that. Meaning it's all about them
and rarely about you or me or service.
Maybe it's me but when you hang a sign
in front of your business announcing hours
of operation, it's seems appropriate that one
adheres to said promises. However many
local service providers will use any excuse
to leave early or as in today's case - call a
snow day. While I'm happy that they can
enjoy additional "me" time - I'll be honest
and state that such a slap dash approach to
customer services ticks me off. Thus while
I may be a member of a captive audience,
I'm not happy about being given the cold
shoulder. Or being left out in the cold.
During my years in retail we never
used weather as an excuse. Hence
unless a tsunami was hovering at
our doors, we kept them open along
with the lights on. Disappoint your
customer once and the odds that they
will come back decrease dramatically.
Thus while I'm happy that many local
business owners were able to avoid
our bad weather, I don't appreciate
having any chance of completing my
to do list cut short. If time is money,
shouldn't we customers come first?
Lost in the translation
Our local bank has displayed a sign for
months announcing they have foreign
currency. Every time I used the ATM
my receipt said the same. Thus having
more than gotten the message I assumed
that securing Euros for our trip would
be more than easy. After a visit to my
more than willing teller reality trumped
perception. Apparently one must "order"
foreign currency well in advance. And
so, I must return to the bank tomorrow
so that they can finally deliver on their
promises. Is this a sign of our times?!
Time is of the essence
In this day and age theres no reason to
live in state of suspended animation.
Yet all of the above reminds one that
here in central Montana one must plan
ahead while maintaining a backup plan.
Whatever one reads in a window or on
a door is not necessarily true. Don't get
me wrong, the tradeoffs of living here
versus there far outweigh any related
delays. However please don't make a
promise that you can't or aren't willing
to deliver upon. And please don't waste
your time or mine. TEMPUS FUGIT!
I must admit that I had no idea that this blog entry would solicit a tsunami of feedback via Facebook and other sources. Most agreeing while others vehemently disagreeing. While I appreciate the value of caring for one's family - I must gently remind all that if one runs and business and posts business hours - it's common courtesy and practice to maintain said published commitment. That's all I ask. In addition - please know that I LOVE LEWISTOWN, MONTANA. Hence if the above missive came across as dismissive... this is "home" and I'm here for the long haul!
However I do need to offer up an apology. My barber (who I adore) was hit by the same horrific flu that Frank and I suffered through. However her's ended in pneumonia and a week long stay in the hospital. While apparently there was a sign posted in the window, I did not see it. Had that happened, I would have sent her some flowers or visited her up on the hill. Fortunately she was more than a cut above post reopening yesterday. And given the line up waiting, hopefully she recouped whatever revenue she lost while abed. WE LOVE YOU "W"!