December 16, 2005

World's Largest Small Town

Yes, I know Reno claims to be the Biggest Little City in the World, but that's not what we're discussing. We're talking about something just about anyone around here will confirm, that is if you live here a while, you find out you know everyone. It's sorta like Mayberry on a grand scale.

It's weird, but for a metro area that's spread out over a territory of 4,677 square miles (only slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut, and bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined) I continue to run into people I either know from somewhere or who know someone I know. Maybe that's the way it is everywhere with everyone, I don't know. I was always shocked whenever I was little and we'd go to the mall or something--my dad always ran into someone he knew. My mom even noticed it (usually because she was miffed that he would never introduce her or my sister or I). Now I can say that my dad got around a lot and was the garrulous sort, which might explain why he knew everyone. However, I am definitely not the social butterfly.

But I notice I keep running into people no matter where I go. Last night, for instance, we had the town Christmas party for the folks who sit on the various boards and agencies. (At Joel's, by the way--good food and good folks.) Last year, we found out one of the older couples we go to church with served on a board, and they were there again this year.

We sat across from one of the guys on the zoning adjustment board I serve on, whom I knew before I was ever on the board because his firm did some work back in the long ago for us when I worked at The Bad Place. Another couple came in and sat down beside them, and it turns out he's a judge. At first I didn't think I would have anything to speak to him about (not having any outstanding warrants or anything) but it turns out he's represented one of the guys I work with here (the one who brought collards-as-a-finger-food to the Christmas party several years back). Also, it turns out he and the guy I knew previously both managed to serve as interim mayor and city attorney for a small town over to the southeast of Trussville where several of our friends from church live.

On the other side of Reba the local insurance guy and his wife sat--he's on the adjustment board with me (and is the one with all the cool old cars at his office), and we found out the other day that his daughter-in-law is the daughter of the preacher at the church where Reba and I grew up, and where Reba's parents still attend.

Even more strange was this morning I had to make a stop at the main post office in downtown Birmingham, and I was running late, but decided I wanted to go see the building the motorcycle guys are going to move into before I came on in to work. A minute or two after I pulled out of the parking lot, I looked in the rearview mirror to see one of the Birmingham News reporters who comes to report on the off-campus meetings I have all the time.

It's just very strange that I can go for years not ever seeing the people who live down the street, and yet I still seem to run across all sorts of folks I know or who know people I know, without even trying.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at December 16, 2005 11:15 AM