International Writers Magazine: Life in the Prairies
Town Crap Part Two
Getting Established for Acceptance
youve followed the suggestions in Part l of Small Crap, and
have made the decision that you really are up to living in a small
town. You are willing to take the risk of being rejected, and dont
mind if you are shunned and isolated. Or you are confident you can
play by the rules well enough to fit in and be accepted. Whats
Who you learn from
the very beginning is critical to your future in a small town. It is
helpful if you have relatives with acceptable reputations in the community
to help you integrate without pain, but lacking that, where do you begin?
First, your real estate agent may be a good starting point even though
many of them are liars and will do anything, even illegal, to get a
sale as life is hard for them where population is sparse. Even though
Kansas has a stringent real estate commission that monitors the ethics
of agents, they cant possibly stay on top of everything. (At least
you can turn in an agent who treats you illegally.)
An agent can direct you to churches, business owners, clubs, bars and
organizations, but unless you enjoy mingling with questionable ethics,
youd be wise to not socialize with an agent until you have lived
there awhile to know which ones are honorable. An agent is only using
you for her next sale when you cant tolerate small town life any
more and put your house back on the market. (It is not uncommon for
many outsiders to put their house up for sale within the first year!)
A church is always a semi-safe place to begin making contacts as most
will offer a warm welcome, albeit superficial, when you arrive. Small
Kansas and Oklahoma towns seem to proliferate with churches, often offshoots
of one another as there is always someone wanting the "perfect"
doctrine, the "perfect" order of service, the "perfect"
worshipers, etc. It is also a way for women to have a voice of their
own--start a home church. Anyone can do it.
A church may even be the same denomination, on different sides of town,
but are bitter enemies, with feuds going back several generations. Dont
make the faux pas of assuming they are friends and associates just because
they bear the same denominational name. So be very cautious how you
proceed in that landmine of "better than thous".
Determine ahead of time what you seek in a church, and this will help
you ferret out the one that is the best fit for you. Do you want something
formal and distant? Charismatic and loose? Lots of structure? No structure?
Literal interpretation of the Bible? Personal interpretation of the
Do you want to improve your social status, then go where the "high
powered" people attend. Perhaps you want an active youth group
or Sunday School for your children. Or you might like small, intimate
back to the Bible self-ordained preacher churches. Also notice what
the people wear, and that may help you make a determination of where
you belong. It is highly unlikely that you will find anything other
than Christian houses of worship, except for clandestine witchery or
other sub-cultural religious practices that are kept extremely quiet.
If none of the churches seem to fit what you seek, and you simply want
to worship a higher power in your own way, then avoid the churches all
together and find scenic drives for your worship experience. There is
an abundance of natural beauty on the prairies for this.
After settling on a church, the next step is to find a banker. All banks
are not created equal. Again, you need to consider what you want from
a bank. Do you want an advisor, someone to make loans, or simply a place
to park you money? Also, interest rates vary from bank to bank, so if
making a few extra dollars on your investments is critical, shop them
all and compare, or turn to the Internet.
Be wary, some banks wont assist you with loans if you are not
a locally born native, no matter how great your credit rating. Others
encourage new business. Ask business owners and folks at the coffee
shops for recommendations. It wont take long and you will have
an overview of the banking situation, and will be able to find the one
that best suits your needs. In fact, the bank might even be located
in another nearby town. Or you may elect to have two different banks,
so you have some leverage in the event you need some assistance.
With the right church and the right bank, you are set to become a model
prairie citizen and hopefully embraced by the natives wary of the "new
folks in town."
© Rosalea Hostetler March 2008
Town Crap part One
Small Town Crap Part Three
Previously published in the
Prairie Connection, Harper, KS
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