Let me start off saying that us ‘city folk’ are spoiled rotten by convenience, so that makes us come across as ungrateful. Give us a chance. Most of us are very nice people once the shock wears off.
Moving to Kitimat from a major centre that is the size of Vancouver, Edmonton or Montreal can be a bit of a culture shock. We may not sleep for the first couple of nights because it is too quiet.
In the city, there is a collective din of people, traffic and sirens that only seems to get slightly quieter in the wee hours of the night, but the noise never stops.
Big cities are designed to keep people entertained. There is always something happening to keep boredom at bay. Stores and restaurants are open late. The idea of not being able to go out at 3 a.m. to the local 24-hour store to get milk or a snack is unthinkable.
In a big city, each neighbourhood is designed to make our lives as convenient as possible. The choices are boundless. There are areas of the city that you can park at a shopping centre when the stores open, consume all three of your daily meals, catch an early movie and then go out for a late night snack – all without leaving the building.
The knee-jerk reaction of being a slave to convenience takes a while for us to recognize and change. You may hear us complain about the limited amount of places to get a good, strong cup of coffee during the day.
When you are at the grocery store and you hear a loud huff followed by someone saying, “I can’t find anything in here!” please understand that we are most likely suffering from Costco withdrawal.
I know of many newly arrived city folk, and one of them is yours truly, who spent time and fuel to go to Terrace because it felt more city-like. I had convinced myself that because it is larger, it must have more shopping options.
WalMart felt like a long, lost friend! I ate at KFC/Taco Bell and not because I had a craving for a Crunchwrap, but because I had a new taste experience option!
Words to the wise – KFC is a terrific bargaining tool. I have people ask me to bring back KFC from Terrace on a regular basis. I have traded KFC delivery for fresh halibut. It is that powerful.
After a while, I did not have the time to make the hour and a half round trip to Terrace very often and it forced me to focus on what Kitimat offers locally. In no time at all, I discovered that I can find everything I need for my day to day life.
I now prefer to shop locally whenever possible because the core of our community development begins with supporting local business owners. People would be surprised at just how much diversity we have in town for shopping.
I think this could be said about any small town – it is a matter of getting out and making a point to learn as much about your new area as possible. Take a stroll through the downtown core and go into every store that has an ‘OPEN’ sign. You never know what treasures lie inside.
That bartering tool, fried chicken I mentioned earlier? Forget that. I found a local place where the chicken is what I like to call ‘ridiculous delicious’. The best part is you no longer will have to barter personal goods and services for chicken delivery.
I now know which gas station in town has the freshest and strongest coffee first thing in the morning. For my afternoon break, there is a lovely coffee shop that has latte and espresso and Americanos and all kinds of tea and snacks. It’s divine! I don’t miss Starbucks one little bit.
My message to the locals is to say thank you for your graciousness when it comes to welcoming us city folk into your community. To the newcomers, I say look around town before you shop elsewhere.
That panic you feel at not having access to your favourite restaurant is just an illusion. There is delicious food at great restaurants, right here.
Kitimat and other smaller towns may not have everything that the big city offers, but it has everything you need, and more!