Sunday, August 09, 2009
Having been raised in a very small town, I figured that I would have no problems fitting in here. After all, here there is an actual mall, a Starbucks, a hospital, and several chain restaurants. I guess I have become accostomed to all of the creature comforts that come with living in a city with a large University- theatre, museums, sports, active downtown life. Most of that I don't miss, especially as I have yet to make any social contacts here.
My mail is delivered by a man in a minivan with a flashing light on the roof. When I go to my actual post office, there is an Amish roadside vegetable stand, and several times I have seen a horse and buggy on the side roads.
Several of the gas stations here do not have pay-at-the-pump. When you go inside to pay, they try to force locally made ice cream on you. As if I didn't have enough bad eating habits without having $2 hand-packed pints shoved at me whenever I buy gas!
There is no branch of my bank here, or even an affiliated ATM. There's only one major bank here, and otherwise it's all city banks and bizarre credit unions not affiliated with anywhere else. I don't really understand this since there is such a large military contingent here, with people moving and relocating from all over the country. Most of my banking is done online anyway, so it doesn't make a huge difference, except I try to time getting cash with visits to the city to avoid ATM fees.
I guess I just need to slow down a little. Everyone here is extremely friendly, with strangers saying hello to you on the street, but the drawback to that is that it seems to take just a bit longer to get anything done. Lines are slower because cashiers inevitably have side conversations with their patrons about how so-and-so is doing or whatever, but I can't complain because it does seem like customer service is better.
Things might get a little more desolate around here in a few months based on the Army's activity. Three brigades are stationed here. Usually one brigade is deployed, one is preparing to deploy, and one has recently returned from deployment. AG's brigade is scheduled to return the beginning of next year.
According to news reports, the other two brigades are going to be sent to Afghanistan before the end of the year. Unless there's a fourth brigade being formed that I'm not aware of, that means it will be pretty empty around here for a month or two. To me, sending two brigades out at once seems kind of strange, because they won't be able to keep up with that schedule unless a big expansion is made, or they have more brigades somewhere else that they can pull from. Typically the brigades are deployed for 12 months and then home for about 15 months. Not only will it not be time for AG's brigade to go out again, but they won't have any other brigades left to deploy from here to replace them at the end of 2010.