george hancock stefanSmall towns on the shore (like ours) come to life in the summer time. Sometimes the number of people on our streets, beaches and restaurants doubles or triples. It feels great to go out and see long lines waiting for a table in our town restaurants. It means that our area businesses are doing well and we should rejoice with them. As someone who enjoys big cities and small towns, who has lived and worked in villages, small towns, and large cities such as Detroit and Chicago, I offer a couple of suggestions for those of us who live in small towns.

1.    Practice civility. If you walk by me, it would be great to hear your voice. There are occasions when you are preoccupied with your thoughts or saddened by something that has happened in your life, but the first sign of civility is to acknowledge the other person passing by you. You are walking by another human being. We do not need to have a conversation, but a greeting will be greatly enjoyed. Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. When you greet me, you acknowledge that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that I am the crown of God’s creation.

2.    I enjoy your flowers and bushes, but do not make me walk in the road.  One of the great things about walking in small towns is enjoying the flowers, trees, and bushes in this town. What a great symphony of art to hear the birds singing and to smell the trees and the flowers in their resplendent morning glory! However, when your bushes and flowers cover the sidewalk, you are saying to me, “I do not want you to walk on my sidewalk which was designated as a place for all of us to walk.” Trim those bushes and flowers and keep them as close to your fence as you can. I will enjoy your flowers and I will enjoy my walk without stepping in front of moving vehicles.

3.    Not everyone enjoys my dogs or my children. I have four children (two of whom are married) and two grandchildren. As someone who thinks that my children are the greatest, I found out that not everyone thinks the same way. Likewise we have had numerous good-looking and friendly dogs, but I found out that not everyone likes them. When you take your children to public places, remember that you are not the only family there. When you go to restaurants, remember that you have one table, not the two other tables next to you. If your child cannot behave at the table, maybe he is not ready to be in a restaurant yet. It is also your responsibility to clean up after your dogs on private and public property. They are your dogs and you can be the owner of their poop.

4.   Be kind to people asking for directions. If you have lived in this town for a long time, you know almost all the streets. But even longtime residents have difficulty figuring out how many Prospects or Bay Streets we have. If someone is looking for Highlands, do not give directions to get there quicker by taking Bayside Drive which you know is closed at the end!  Be kind so that a lost person may come back to our town because you have been so wonderful, because they were warmly greeted, or because they had the best food in one of our restaurants.