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4 Seasons in Rural USA

My Experience in a Small Town


Welcome to Pomeroy

Welcome to Pomeroy, Washington; a town of about 2000 people. The one high school in town has a graduating class of 27 this year. This is the kind of place where one minute you're on the highway, then all of a sudden the speed limit changes to 25 mph, then suddenly you're in a town. Pomeroy. There are no traffic lights because traffic does not even exist. Everybody knows everybody and they are all constantly in your business. This city, I mean small town, is like a giant high school for adults. I sometimes call it "The Twilight Zone."

I'm from Boston. This new, desolate town is in every way completely opposite of anywhere I've ever known. I went to a high school, out of four in my city, with a greater population than all of Pomeroy.

Eastern Washington is the home of several tiny, rural towns. Farmers country, if you will. You'll see nothing but hills for miles, giant stacks of hay, lots of beat-up, old, wooden barns that almost look abandoned, and if you're lucky, dozens of windmills all in a row, spinning. The windmills are my favorite.

The coolest thing about Pomeroy isn't the plethora of cowboy boots or camouflage. I'd say that it's the fact that there's a hell of a lot of information about Lewis and Clark. They traveled right through here! (I doubt they stopped for very long.) There's even a museum! Open one day a week for minimal hours.

It is a super cute, historical town for what it's worth. And you might even pass some deer if you go for a walk in your neighborhood. If you're not passing deer, you're probably passing some guy on a giant green tractor. Now that's a sight to see.

Pomeroy does, however, lack the convenience of a city. The closest and probably only Wal-Mart close enough to drive to is almost 40 minutes away. In fact, anything, in any direction, is 40 minutes away. Now that is no fun, especially when you're drunk at 2 AM and want a hamburger.

Everyone is married, or divorced and remarried, or just not single at all, or has hella children. This is not a place for a young, single millennial looking to have a really good time. People barely go out anyways because the cops in town have nothing better to do than to pull over people leaving the bar. I've met more than one person with a goddam breathalyzer in their truck. Literally, while you're driving, it goes off and you have to blow into it until it stops beeping. This is absolutely fuckin' ridiculously crazy. For real. 

Work Life

After not getting the job I came here for and after witnessing the extreme level of unprofessionalism of how it all went down (yes, I'm judging the fuck out of you halfway qualified motherfuckers), I started working at one of the only two restaurants in the town. I actually started working here waiting for the "other job" to begin and this is why I feel like everything works out the way it should and things really do happen for a reason. Yes, I didn't get the job I was assured I was going to get and no, I wouldn't have moved to the middle of nowhere if I thought there was any chance I wasn't going to get it; however, I wanted to experience "small town" life and working at Tonia's Cafe brought me just that.

Now, remember, I'm from a city and I have worked at restaurants before, but as a hostess. I literally opened doors for people and brought them to their table, and that's it. Here, I do the job of literally five people. I'm waitressing, bartending in a completely different section of the cafe, making pizzas, answering phones, cleaning tables, doing dishes, freakin' everything. This is completely normal here and it really shouldn't be. Only two people work in the cafe at a time—the cook and waitress/bartender. Two people, that's it! It took me a long time to finally get a grasp on this new reality of mine and I finally don't completely suck at all of this multi-tasking. Notice how I said completely. 

Now where I'm from, when you go out to eat, you get your bill and you multiply the first number by 2. That gets you 20 percent. That's how much you should be tipping. Not here! Some days I'm lucky to get a $1 tip on a $50 bill. Cheap ass hillbillies. This one local ran his bar tab up over the course of a month and it was like $300. He tipped 30 cents. Oh. Right. Okay. Sure. Fucking seriously?

One of the highlights of working here has been the travelers during the summer months. Dozens of motorcyclists and bicyclists stop in on their journey across Highway 12. These people come from where ever they began their journey and are mostly heading to the Oregon Coast. Highway 12 is a beautiful drive with views of windmills and open land. It really is spectacular. I have so much respect for the cyclists who ride their bikes in the treacherous summer heat for hundreds of miles. I didn't even know that was a thing people were doing. I met some cool ass bikers with cool ass stories and I am happy to be having my own experience on Highway 12.

Hunting, Fishing, Loving Every Day

Pomeroy could easily be the location for a Luke Bryan music video. And in the fall, it is hunting season. Locals and people from other surrounding areas all flock to the Umatilla Forest in hopes to kill a deer. I think the rules are that you're only allowed to shoot one per season. These people have separate refrigerators to store the meat in. I've tried all kinds of sausages and some homemade jerky. This is definitely a perk of small town living.

There is also "elk season" where, if you're signed up, you can go out and shoot an elk (if you're lucky). Elk burgers are life changing! And coming from a prior vegetarian, that's really sayin' something!

It is very common to own a trailer/camper and people spend their weekends camping in the mountains or out on the river. The mountains in the summer time is horrendous. There are way too many gnats and bugs flying into your face and I really don't understand how people are okay with that. It's also really hard to participate in day drinking when you're the only person who despises beer. I mean, I'm down to drink whiskey at noon but is that really the best idea for me? 

Life Lessons

Living in the Twilight Zone has taught me more than I was expecting. I'm currently living with my boss who used to be extremely overweight and underwent a weight loss surgery. She's in her late 40's and she is rediscovering herself and the kind of life she wants to be living. Being around her and watching her embrace the world with open arms as a new person has been inspiring. She's taught me that there's no age limit on fun. She's taught me that you don't necessarily need a 9-5 career, and that it's okay to do whatever it is that drives your soul. She's been great. We often take road trips to find good wine tasting places. She is my silver lining in Pomeroy, 100 percent.

Before this, I was living with my college friend who is from Pomeroy. She recently got married and living with a married couple has taught me that I, 100 percent, never want to be like them. No offense. They are boring. They are not boring at all though. They go camping and attend more weddings than anyone I've ever met. They go snowmobiling in the winter and jeeping in the summer. They are actually pretty damn cool. But they live for the weekends. They rarely do things on the weekdays, not like there's anything to do here anyway. But, still. In my life, I want to be the kind of person who has fun any day of the week, not just on the weekends. Everyone lives their own life in their own way and that's okay. Living here has taught me that marriage and a life-long career are two things not destined for me. And that's completely okay.

Culture shock has been an understatement for me and every time one of these racist ass hicks says the "n" word, my soul literally cringes. But it hasn't been all that bad. I've met some really cool people and hopefully have left a lasting impression. I've learned other ways of life and living and have a great deal of respect for all of the hard workers who really do work their asses off.

But I'm so ready and so excited to get the fuck out of this place and never come back. 

For more stories on my journey, check out my blog.

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