Progress Comes to Town


My one-horse hometown finally got too big for its britches and started to grow. They’ve been working on the new shopping center over by the Interstate for some time. I didn’t really pay much attention. After all, there seems to be a bulldozer digging dirt somewhere every place you look these days.

Then it opened.

New stores, a discount store, a department store, all kinds of little shops. It’s like another whole city over there, only two miles away. Other people seem to be like me, though. They can’t get used to the idea of shopping somewhere else. You still can’t find a place to park at Walmart while the aisles at the new Target are like a bowling alley.

I guess we will all adjust sooner or later.

I went to Target the other day. It was my daughter’s birthday and I wanted to get a gift card. I looked around a little bit, but it was like any other new store. I couldn’t find stuff, didn’t know where to look, and had to ask someone. It was annoying.

Some people are freaking out about it. “It’s killing the old downtown,” they say. “Need to support our local merchants,” yadda, yadda. I’m not against people making a living, but, face it, this town has been dead for a long time. It just didn’t have enough sense to shut its eyes. Maybe a few new stores will rattle the cage and wake up the economy.

Yesterday my printer cartridge ran out of ink. “Oh, rats! Have to go all the way to Staples in Murfreesboro to get a new one.” Then I remembered. We have a Staples store here now! So, I hopped in my shoes and took off for the new shopping center. I could park right by the door. The crowds haven’t found it yet.”

I just hope they have what I need, I thought. I didn’t need to worry. All the shelves were fully stocked. Wonder if they could have that jump drive like I’ve been looking for? I need some printer paper, and some photo paper, and well, you get the picture. By the time I got out of there the printer cartridge cost me $200 with all the extras. This new shopping center may be a little bit too handy.

“I love your store!” I told the checker at the cash register. “You have everything that everyone else is sold out of!”

She looked a bit surprised, but soon came to her senses. “Do you have our Rewards Card?” Ah, yes, the impersonal, “personal touch” of these big box stores. She found my card on the computer faster than I could find it in my wallet.

Yeah, it’s going to take me a while. I’m just not used to the Big City being in my front yard. It’s always been down the road a bit, just inconvenient enough to keep me at home.

History has a place and sometimes it can be revitalized. There are examples, usually where there is high-density population and little place for growth — or a lot of tourists. But I think we are stuck with the inevitable. People are going where they can shop conveniently, find what they need, and most of all where there is parking.

Me too.

Now if I can just figure out how to get in and out of the danged place without turning at the wrong light, on the wrong road, or the one that doesn’t go anywhere.
At least I knew where I was in the old town, even though I might have to circle that stupid roundabout three times before I could get out of it.

The bull dozers are still digging and more stores are going up all the time. You can’t stop progress, they say. Newer is better. Asphalt will surely inherit the earth.

Copyright 2008 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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