City drivers, for example, have an entirely different approach to getting to work. I was taught to signal and change lanes one at a time. Not so in a big city. No signal required, and you can cross as many lanes as there are.
One secret to achieving this, I divined, is to completely avoid eye contact with other drivers. If your eyes meet, then someone has to yield. So, no eye contact, no need to yield, no problem. Everybody—blue-toothed automatons on parade—just stays out of everybody else’s way. It works, yes, but what a sad statement about how city folks avoid interacting with each other.
Without eye contact, of course, smiles are few and far between. Driving around Ruidoso, I’m always looking to see who I know so I can wave a greeting. Even if it’s just the raise-a-finger-from-the-steering-wheel-wave, it’s still a greeting. I saw no such looking and waving and greeting between city drivers.
My second day in the city, I located the nearest Starbucks and stopped in early for a tall (means small in Starbuck-eze) latte. I had to stand at the end of a long line of suited & tied business men and accessorized business women. I found myself standing a little straighter in the company of these starched and purposeful American dreamers.
I discovered on subsequent mornings, no matter how early I got there, the line was just as long and the suits were just as stiff. I ventured a smile at a few fellow laborers while waiting for my tall/small cup of sunshine, but the returns were dim and distant. The regulars engaged in shallow conversation with the cappuccino robots, but we outsiders were generally disregarded.
Safely installed in my workshop classroom, I observed nerds are nerds wherever you go. Give me a nerd convention any day. Nerds are unconcerned with style or fashion; in fact, the only indication they are afflicted with modern society’s disease of affluenza is the size and speed of their laptops. At the end of every nerd’s fingertips sat a fancy lightning fast machine. Except me, of course. I still make do with the mini-mini, squint-to-find-the-screen, somebody-hand-me-a-magnifying-glass model. (The thing came as a freebie with something else—that’s how miniscule it is.) I got a few you’ve-got-to-be-kidding looks and found myself suffering mild computer envy that first day—proof, I suppose, that I am a closet nerd myself...
Somehow, though, I have survived my eight days in the big city and am looking forward to decompressing in lovely little Ruidoso, where folks are not wound quite so tight, where the lines on the road and school zone signs still mean something, and where I don’t have to endure snide remarks about my nobody-has-a-lap-that-small laptop.
This week, I count among my blessings, living in a place where the little connections between neighbors are tangible, jeans and a t-shirt is always appropriate attire, and every day is a good day for a Sunday drive. It’s good to be home.