"When your local place closes up, you're pretty much lost."
December 29, 2016 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Rural resident pool cash to save last bars, gathering sites Once-bustling Renwick, Iowa, lost its grocery, hardware store, school and Ford dealership years ago, but when its sole bar closed last June, it seemed to some residents there wasn't much of a town left. So a group of seven friends and spouses who had met for beers at the bar for decades took matters into their own hands.
posted by Michele in California (54 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
In Wisconsin, if the last local bar closes, your town just gets sucked back into the Earth.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:04 PM on December 29, 2016 [16 favorites]


"It's not very easy to have a strong, active small town," said Matt Connealy, who lives on a farm just outside town. "You have to do things that don't always make the best sense financially."

I'd be very, very curious to know what the election returns for these towns look like.
posted by Ipsifendus at 1:06 PM on December 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


3,564 for Trump, 1,251 for Clinton. I don't know how much that tells us, though, or which direction the causations might be running. If Election 2016 taught us anything, it's that It's Complicated.
posted by radicalawyer at 1:11 PM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


коллекти́вное хозя́йство
posted by poffin boffin at 1:21 PM on December 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


When I was spending some of my time in rural Nebraska a few years back, it was my experience that there was no town so small it didn't have at least one bar, even if that was literally the only business in town.

Witness the Nebrask'Inn, in Gross, NE (population 4 when I visited, now down to 2) and the Monowi Tavern in Monowi, NE (population 2 when I visited, now down to 1).

A cup of coffee cost me a dime at the Nebrask'Inn, and a nickel at the Monowi Tavern.

In 2004.

(My red beer was 2 bucks at both places.)
posted by dersins at 1:22 PM on December 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


I wonder what effect a universal basic income would have on blighted rural areas. All those empty houses available for cheap. All those schools with no students to fill them.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:23 PM on December 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


Bars in rural areas or small towns make me nervous. How do those people get home without drinking and driving if they're in a place with no public transit, no cabs, and their homes likely aren't within walking distance. Do they take a designated driver, every time? I'd like to see bars in such places required to provide a shuttle service.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:31 PM on December 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Bars in rural areas or small towns make me nervous. How do those people get home without drinking and driving if they're in a place with no public transit, no cabs, and their homes likely aren't within walking distance. Do they take a designated driver, every time?

Drunk driving is basically the national pastime of rural America.
posted by dersins at 1:32 PM on December 29, 2016 [77 favorites]


<mild rant>

So, I grew up in one of the now-coolest places in the world (my childhood home is now worth millions of dollars, and I live sort of nearby in the tiniest condo imaginable). Hey, everybody, let's move to Cambridge, MA or NYC or Portland, OR! And make those places so gentrified that they are no longer cool at all! Except that they are, because prices keep rising! Ok, let's now start selling the coolest parts to zillionaires who only live there a month of the year, making them empty and depressing. Except that they're still cool! And crowded! We must all live there! Hipsters! Culture! Like-minded people! Cool!

Then I read about places like this and think, this is so cool. I'd love to live there, and have a huge amount of land and a house that doesn't cost a hundred years of salary. But companies won't build there because it's not cool? (We're long past the days where we needed to rely on rivers and what have you as a necessity for a location.) Workers won't move there because it's not cool? There aren't enough "cultural" things to do, so therefore it's not cool? Well, how about just making it cool?? Move there! Bring some of the culture! Improve the infrastructure! Why did the Ford place leave, anyway? It wasn't making enough zillions of dollars?

Yes, I know that rural living has its own unique set of problems, I'm just ranting because I'm jealous of all that beautiful open space and bars where people know your name and my condo is right now feeling kind of claustrophobic and the grass is always greener...
posted by Melismata at 1:34 PM on December 29, 2016 [22 favorites]


I've drank in a couple informal "bars" in tiny towns. One was in a guy's barn, but had a great drink selection and comfy furniture. My understanding is that around here it isn't legal to be selling alcohol without a license, but there was a clear blind eye being turned (including by the law enforcement who also drank there) I don't think it is exactly a big risk.

The driving thing? Everyone just drives home, and luckily traffic volumes are low.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:41 PM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


(We're long past the days where we needed to rely on rivers and what have you as a necessity for a location.)

We still need rivers, just for different reasons.

It's the availability of power and transportation infrastructure, plus a modicum of available labor (for construction, if nothing else) which keeps companies from building large facilities in sparsely-populated rural areas.
posted by dersins at 1:41 PM on December 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


The driving thing? Everyone just drives home, and luckily traffic volumes are low.

per capita alcohol related traffic fatalities per state

Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota are #2,3,4.
posted by Chrischris at 1:48 PM on December 29, 2016 [16 favorites]


I'd love to live there, and have a huge amount of land and a house that doesn't cost a hundred years of salary. But companies won't build there because it's not cool?

I'd expect that mostly companies won't build there because too many of the people who would make good workers moved to Des Moines or the Quad Cities (or other Iowa-scale metropolises) for work, or went to school in Iowa City or Ames and never left.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:48 PM on December 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'd love to live there, and have a huge amount of land and a house that doesn't cost a hundred years of salary. But companies won't build there because it's not cool?

same, but my primary concern is not being the One Village Jew which historically has not worked out well for anyone.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:52 PM on December 29, 2016 [30 favorites]


Yeah, if you are driving drunk, traffic does not need to be part of the equation at all. There is such a thing as a single vehicle accident. (Paying accident claims for five plus years is a good way to, say, never want to ride a motorcycle ever.)
posted by Michele in California at 1:53 PM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'd expect that mostly companies won't build there because too many of the people who would make good workers moved to Des Moines or the Quad Cities (or other Iowa-scale metropolises) for work, or went to school in Iowa City or Ames and never left.

This. If you lack the skills or will to move even as far as the nearest medium-sized city, chances are pretty good you wouldn't qualify for the kind of skilled-labor jobs that most companies are seeking anyways.
posted by Chrischris at 1:53 PM on December 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


коллекти́вное хозя́йство

Literally the first thing I thought when I read this was that the people likely terrified of an Democrat-imposed sovkhoz just banded together to form a good old-fashioned all-American kolkhoz.
posted by griphus at 1:54 PM on December 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


A NEW LIFE AWAITS YOU IN THE RUST BELT COLONIES!
posted by blue_beetle at 2:00 PM on December 29, 2016 [53 favorites]


This. If you lack the skills or will to move even as far as the nearest medium-sized city, chances are pretty good you wouldn't qualify for the kind of skilled-labor jobs that most companies are seeking anyways.

The flip side of this is that if you're a person with an in-demand skill set and you really want to live in a rural area, these medium-sized cities do in fact have fairly rural communities located within commuting distance. There are options in between NYC and Renwick. Yeah, you have to choose to drive further than you would to live in an ordinary apartment or housing development, but not unbearably long. I've met a number of people since moving to Omaha who commute from what are basically hobby farms.
posted by Sequence at 2:18 PM on December 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


In the neoliberal view, those towns are merely wasteful inefficiencies that fail to send enough revenue up to our overlords, so their depopulation is only right and proper. And listen here, mourning their loss is a VERY suspicious pastime believe you me.
posted by ccaajj aka chrispy at 2:20 PM on December 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


Saving the local pub (and shop and post office) by forming a co-operative has become a common (heh, heh) solution in the UK.
posted by chapps at 2:23 PM on December 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


Drunk driving is basically the national pastime of rural America.

I never did figure out how that worked when I lived in the rural suburbs. I mostly just ended up drinking at home because I don't like to drink and drive and there are just no transportation options other than driving your own car/truck.
posted by octothorpe at 2:24 PM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


And, Sequence, why don't more people do the commute-from-hobby-farm thing?? Why can't it be more cool? still ranting, sorry
posted by Melismata at 2:25 PM on December 29, 2016


I never did figure out how that worked when I lived in the rural suburbs.

i always assumed riding a bike would be the best bet but i guess in a lot of places that would be pretty fucking dangerous in the winter on account of drunken roadside naps.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:30 PM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Small rural towns have never retained the people who wanted bright lights and big cities. What changed is that farming and the human infrastructure to support farmers and get their crops and livestock to market has gotten far more efficient and centralized.

Most employers in this country not inherently fixed to a certain place gladly practice the wage and cost of living arbitrage of not being in New York, Boston, LA or the Bay Area. But you still need some natural population density, ruling out the rural hinterlands, and avoiding the extremes of winter also seems to be valued, pushing those jobs more to Arizona Texas in the southeast than to your Des Moines or Sioux Cities.
posted by MattD at 2:47 PM on December 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


god i just realized one of the biggest insurers in the US is literally named sovkhoz
posted by poffin boffin at 2:53 PM on December 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


But companies won't build there because it's not cool?

It's not just that it's not cool. Many workers will only consider living someplace with a selection of decent employers to chose from for a variety of reasons. They might have a significant other that also needs a good job. They might not want to risk having to relocate again if they don't like the company or it goes under. The new normal for advancing professionally is changing employers periodically and being some place with limited options restricts that. A monoculture (or even a moderately small ecosystem) is risky for employees that are talented and skilled, so if you're a company that requires them, it's generally better to go to an affordable city or college town than to try to build a cool culture in a tiny community.

And the locals that are already there are not necessarily friendly to a bunch of people with very different ways of life moving in either, especially to LGBTetc and minority employees.

why don't more people do the commute-from-hobby-farm thing?

A fair number of people do. But I don't think it's ever going to become cool because commuting that type of distance via car isn't what most people want to do.
posted by Candleman at 2:54 PM on December 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


I dunno, from where I sit it looks like commuting from a hobby farm is the default way of life. The rush hour traffic on the country roads near me is a nightmare, and it just gets worse all the time. Folks, if you like the country, don't move there and then commute back to town! Because if everyone does that it's not the country anymore. It's just more sprawl, only with a road system less able to handle it.
posted by elizilla at 3:04 PM on December 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


It is worth pointing out that many of these rural areas have terrible Internet service. My parents live in rural Indiana and their Internet can barely handle streaming low resolution video.... sometimes.
posted by nolnacs at 3:32 PM on December 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'd love to live there, and have a huge amount of land and a house that doesn't cost a hundred years of salary. But companies won't build there because it's not cool?

I live in an uncool medium-size Midwestern town, and recruitment and retention is a big challenge. It's a tough sell to anybody who isn't a white and of a Christian background. Come, be one of a tiny number of professionals of color, most of whom work for us! Come, to the town with one small synagogue! Come, to the place where everybody will assume that your Pakistani significant other is Mexican! Come, to the place where you won't necessarily feel safe holding your same-sex partner's hand in public!

(What saves us is that we're actually radically diverse for a Midwestern city of this size, we are within driving distance of larger cities, and, IMHO, we have a really good work community.)
posted by BrashTech at 3:51 PM on December 29, 2016 [19 favorites]


Workers won't move there because it's not cool? There aren't enough "cultural" things to do, so therefore it's not cool? Well, how about just making it cool?? Move there!

Are you actually planning to move to some deadend rural town at any point, or is this something that you think 'other' people should do and not you?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 3:54 PM on December 29, 2016 [17 favorites]


Even as a woman, I'd hesitate to move to a tiny factory town. I saw enough lonely college professors at my small rural liberal arts college to learn that the pickings can be slim for professional women. Also, the monoculture part doesn't mesh well with layoffs. I'm in a decently sized city, but my specialty is niche enough that, were I to leave my current company, I'd have to move.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 4:30 PM on December 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Are you actually planning to move to some deadend rural town at any point, or is this something that you think 'other' people should do and not you?

In fairness, I think the point Melismata was making was that s/he wished that employers would make the first move by setting up shop in rural areas, not that " 'other' people" should do this thing that s/he was unwilling to do.

But I guess don't let that stop the kneejerk snark.
posted by dersins at 4:44 PM on December 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


A number of big wigs at the BigCo where I used to work apparently had hobby farms -- or perhaps serious farms/ranches. I don't really know which. I just know a lot of them drove trucks to their spiffy office jobs and if you talked to them, they had stories. In fact, the CEO bought a ranch to impress visiting Japanese business people because rural American life was something Cool and Different for the visiting Japanese folks, whereas any restaurants or other in town local "culture" we had was extremely Ho, Hum, Yawn compared to anything in Tokyo.

Also, there actually are inroads being made in terms of getting good internet out to rural areas (for example). So if living the glorious rural life without commuting back to your city job is really something you desire, you could look into developing a portable online income, moving someplace rural with good internet (or making the good internet happen yourself) et voila!

I know, I know: I am probably supposed to accept that this is hopeless and just commiserate. But I completely suck at that. Sorry.
posted by Michele in California at 5:18 PM on December 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


I like the spirit of these people, saving their sacred spaces. The older we get perhaps we more appreciate the closeness that evolves over time spent, in close company, close or not.
posted by Oyéah at 5:31 PM on December 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


It wouldn't be impossible to make it more feasible to commute from hobby farms. But it would require a lot of resources per capita to be spent on infrastructure-- roads, telecommunications, emergency services-- to make it realistic for large numbers of people. It would also require people to spend a lot on their own transportation on top of that. And it would be environmentally problematic.

It might be a nice way to live, but it's far from a solution to expensive housing costs in cities, or strained municipal budgets-- or small towns losing population. You need to attract (relatively) wealthy residents who can afford the costs. It can work in Marin County. Maybe even some particularly scenic parts of Montana. But it's not going to work in rural Iowa.
posted by alexei at 6:07 PM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


being the One Village Jew which historically has not worked out well for anyone.

Or even just being an unmarried woman over thirty. No pogroms, mind you, but still unpleasant.

I didn't leave my often-shitty birth state in order to be "cool," I left it in order to be able to have a life.
posted by praemunire at 6:14 PM on December 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


White isn't necessarily a midwest/flyover thing. Portland, OR is really really white and still part of the west coast liberal bubble. It's complicated.
posted by bendy at 6:17 PM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


same, but my primary concern is not being the One Village Jew which historically has not worked out well for anyone.
There are actually similar efforts afoot to save synagogues in smallish Iowa towns like Mason City and Ottumwa. The same forces that are depopulating small towns are also killing off small-town Jewish communities. I can't say that I find the idea of moving to Mason City hugely appealing, but I'm sure the shul there would be delighted to have me or you.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:16 PM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


My husband got a job in a rural area out of grad school, so we moved, and it was a terrible decision. Nowhere to work for me, no ability for me to get to a job anyway until we got a second car because no public transit, and when I made the decision to go back to school myself, I had to go to a little building by the airport that housed satellite academic programs from several universities actually located hours away because that was the only option for graduate education. I had very few friends and the print shop with the Jesus fish across the town square from the natural foods grocer that I eventually got a job at told everyone that me and the other ladies that worked there were all lesbian witches, because that's super neighborly. (Nothing against lesbian witches--some of my best friends have been lesbian witches, but it's not really the rep you want in a small town, especially when your husband is a public school teacher.) And I felt like I spent my entire life in a car because everything was soooo faaaar away.

So, there are legit reasons people might be hesitant to uproot their families and live in rural areas beyond just it not being cool. Having nowhere for a spouse to work or go to school is not really a selling point for two income families. Being the town lesbian witch is just a bonus. Recruitment would be a serious issue.

Here in Pittsburgh you could hobby farm to your hearts content if you could deal with a 30 minute commute. I mean, shit, I live smack in the city and have chickens.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:28 PM on December 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


Even as a woman, I'd hesitate to move to a tiny factory town.

When the young women leave and don't come back, that's when a town dies. If he young women stay, it'll stay a viable community. Don't ask me why but I grew up in a town of 200 or so and I still have a lot of family and friends living in tiny places and that's how it works. You have a period where there are a lot of bachelors, then the place dies.
posted by fshgrl at 9:17 PM on December 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


How do those people get home without drinking and driving

They drink and drive, of course. When I lived in a rural area, there were a lot of mysterious single-vehicle crashes on Friday and Saturday nights attributed to "falling asleep at the wheel". It took me a while to realize that this was basically a euphemism for what everyone knew was drunk driving. The local PD seemed content to write them up that way as long as you only wrecked your own car. (And that's assuming you weren't able to just get out and walk away, which was the preferred approach and resulted in no paperwork at all.)

There was one taxi (which is probably more than a lot of rural towns have), and he mainly specialized in transporting people who were so drunk that they couldn't physically get into their own car, much less operate it.

I don't live there anymore, although there are certainly aspects of it that I liked. Hell, if it weren't for the only growth industry being heroin trafficking, I probably would have stayed. The rough edges are more visible from a distance.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:19 AM on December 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


Driverless cars would save a lot of isolated pubs. They just need to be smart enough to take you home when you stagger back out of the pub at four in the morning.
posted by pracowity at 5:24 AM on December 30, 2016


A friend lives in a very small town in Australia and we were having dinner in the (only) pub when the town's police officer walked in, waved a cheery hello to everyone and said he'd be in his car outside in the car park if we needed him. Heh.

Everyone was very good about it. We walked home later, waving at the nice policeman. People who lived further out were staying with friends. I'm sure there is still a tonne of drink driving but it's been a massive cultural change from the 70s/80's when I was a kid and it was the norm wherever you lived (heck, even if mum was sober it was still the norm for drunken dads to drive).
posted by kitten magic at 5:32 AM on December 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


When the young women leave and don't come back, that's when a town dies. If he young women stay, it'll stay a viable community. Don't ask me why but I grew up in a town of 200 or so and I still have a lot of family and friends living in tiny places and that's how it works. You have a period where there are a lot of bachelors, then the place dies.

Isn't it possible to make the argument that stage one of this process is actually that the town becomes unattractive (or non-viable) for the young women to want to stay in (i.e. the stage before the young women actually leave)? What are the conditions which make the young women want to leave?
posted by biffa at 5:34 AM on December 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


When the young women leave

I'm not young anymore, and, even if I were, I doubt I'd like the choices available to me.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:03 AM on December 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


What are the conditions which make the young women want to leave?

An increased socio-cultural acceptance and feasibility of women saying, "fuck this shit, I'm out" seems to lead to a lot of young women saying, "fuck this shit, I'm out." (Not that this only happens in rural areas, but it's a lot easier to leave shitty situations in suburban and urban areas without actually forsaking the entire town or city.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:24 AM on December 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


This situation is only going to get worse in rural areas around the country. Here's a local article mostly about Western PA and the Panhandle of West Virginia but this quote is about national trends:
Of the nation's 3,143 counties, 1,135 of them now experience more deaths than births annually, which used to be a rare equation. Counties outside of metropolitan areas hold 16 percent of the nation's population, compared with 21 percent in 1990, and the gap between urban and rural population growth keeps widening, according to Mr. Cromartie.
I can only see Trump's election accelerating this trend for at least two reasons: his anti-immigrant stance and just the general queasiness that anyone who's not a middle-aged straight white man is going to have about the idea of living near Trump voters.
posted by octothorpe at 6:31 AM on December 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


Are you actually planning to move to some deadend rural town at any point, or is this something that you think 'other' people should do and not you?

Actually, I did for four years, but moved back home because...

Or even just being an unmarried woman over thirty. No pogroms, mind you, but still unpleasant.

I was dismissed as a haughty single woman from the city. I tried my darndest to make friends, despite being introverted and outside my comfort zone; no dice. I moved back home because family/friend support, as well as a short commute, is a powerful thing when you're single and not wealthy. If I had a partner who wanted to move to a rural area, and there was reasonable income, I'd do it.
posted by Melismata at 8:23 AM on December 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


I was dismissed as a haughty single woman from the city. I tried my darndest to make friends, despite being introverted and outside my comfort zone; no dice.

I got this plus did you notice actual hostility from other women? I sure did and it took me a while to figure out why. I thought it was something I wasn't doing right but it was about the fear that I would either take any of the single (worthwhile) men that were still available or I was going to steal boyfriends and husbands. My mistake apparently was that I was was friendly to men as well as women in a way that was just utterly normal and mundane to me.

I would have written this off as quirk of the particular small town I moved into but since then I have talked to a number of other women who had the same experience as well as people who had moved away from these small towns and told me that this is what it was like and one of the reasons they left or were glad to leave.
posted by Jalliah at 8:55 AM on December 30, 2016 [7 favorites]


I've come to believe that the only thing that will save the small town in America is a disaster. Historically, cities have grown only until something went wrong: Rome losing most of its water supply reportedly emptied the city in days; The Masque of the Red Death, The Decameron, and several other early books have a background of the population of the cities fleeing to the countryside when plague appeared, which from what I remember of my college history classes was based on reality: all over the world, when disease showed up in a city and killed a significant percentage of the population, they dispersed and fled to the country, with the rich and powerful leaving first to their country estates, and then the poor who had nothing to protect, and then the middle when it was clear that nobody was safe and staying behind was more-or-less a death sentence. We see the same urban abandonment for the rural from other causes as well: London was partially evacuated, with most children and other non-essential to the war cause civillians heading out to less likely to be bombed locales; many company towns around the world were built up into small cities during a boom, then when the company pulled out or went under, the city died.

One idea Robert Heinlein promoted in his non-fiction was that the only way for the US (or any country, but he was a patriot and ex-Navy officer) to prepare for a nuclear war would be to disperse the targets: move essential production to remote sites and out of the cities, encourage people to telecommute (different in the pre-Internet age, and much more workable today than in the phone and post office era) while living in a small town. While I don't think the will exists, even if an immanent nuclear or other WMD threat suddenly popped up and was believably probable, should another major city-emptying event (limited nuclear exchange, plague, extremely rapid coastal flooding, zombies) occur, I can easily see the major cities giving up a substantial percentage of their populations to the smaller towns, where people would vpn into the office, conference calls, etc.

The company I work for was rapidly heading this way, and I know of several that have an office that is only staffed for official events, but there remains a stubborn streak of management and executives who don't believe an employee is earning their salary unless they see asses in chairs in the office. If heading into the office has a significant chance of bringing management into contact with Captain Trips or Anthrax Leprosy Mu, or becoming a part of a radioactive cloud, I expect this will change.

And then the small towns in America would see a resurgence, as nobody wants to live in a radioactive crater, or become a victim of the new plague.
posted by Blackanvil at 9:10 AM on December 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


One of the big name researchers in self-driving cars lost their mother to a drunk driver, so despite all the wider societal implications, self-driving cars can't come fast enough.

In my personal life and as a city dweller, not having wifi isn't so bad, but if there's not 4G LTE (data-capped though it may be) to fall back, then everything is terrible. A lack of Internet access tops my list of first world problems.

However, professionally, lack of broadband Internet is a total showstopper. While I am able to work from anywhere, it's realistically limited to high-speed broadband connectable areas - which takes many rural areas out of the running. Michele in California is right to point out efforts to improve that situation (I particularly liked the story about B4RN), but that needs pointing out because dial-up still gets mentioned when discussing rural Internet access.

Hills are a bit of an impediment for broadband service via a wireless ISP, but fortunately, topo maps are available (but would require significant time over dial-up), but having to do your own research on it makes finding suitable property significantly harder.
posted by fragmede at 9:52 AM on December 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


I got this plus did you notice actual hostility from other women? I sure did and it took me a while to figure out why. I thought it was something I wasn't doing right but it was about the fear that I would either take any of the single (worthwhile) men that were still available or I was going to steal boyfriends and husbands. My mistake apparently was that I was was friendly to men as well as women in a way that was just utterly normal and mundane to me.

Huge chunks of the Midwest is like this, urban or rural. I keep my private life private and when I was in and out of various locations for work those ladies did not like that one bit. They want to know you're all happily coupled up and not "having problems" because clearly that would lead to husband stealing as the only solution. I finally let on that I had an SO who was back on the coast (probably cheating on me since I'd abandoned him for days or weeks at a time, it was heavily implied by every woman I met). He was actually from the Midwest so he thought it was wildly amusing.

I really, really disliked the culture there as a woman. They seem nice to men, but I'd never live there no matter how good a job I was offered. Pretty much every conversation I had when they thought I was a single 35 year old was a slap in the face.
posted by fshgrl at 8:18 PM on December 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


This brought to mind the article about Chinese restaurants in small towns in Canada, and the woman who lived and worked on an island in Newfoundland, only taking a handful of days off over the span of years.

How unappealing do the prospects of these types of businesses have to be that they can't attract immigrant entrepreneurs?
posted by jimw at 11:41 PM on December 30, 2016


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