Saturday, May 30, 2009

People Can Tell, or at least "My People" can...

I had an interesting experience today. People from Montana say they meet one another everywhere in the world. Now I know why.

Montana is a small state, in terms of population. It's large in terms of size but there aren't many more people in Montana than there are here in Vermont. 2/3rds though of Montana's population is stuffed into about a 15th of the space. We're very different places.

Nevertheless, picking out someone from Montana, as my new found friend succeeded in doing, depends on factors that explain how people in vast airports always find folks that are "from" Montana. It gave me a certain amount of gratification to know (finally) how it's done, and a certain amount of chagrin as well.

"Mark" as I will call my new friend was entering the backdoor mall entrance to the "BURR-lin" mall (if you pronounce it like the German city you show you're not a "Vermonter") and I held the door for his family as he approached, and enjoyed the little girl with Blond Ringlets as she bounced her way into the store. It was peaceful happy moments and I turned to walk across the back parking lot towards my truck.

At this point "Mark" exited the store and came part way across the parking lot and said, "You're from Montana, aren't you?" Well yes, I said, I certainly was and he asked where and I said "Mostly Kalispell, but I've lived all over Montana." He said he'd seen the truck parked in the back lot with Montana plates and knew I was the guy because I'd been so polite and no one in Vermont was like that.

That made me laugh of course, and smile, and in the ensuing conversation I learned he was from Broadus (which even people in Montana have difficultly locating) but I am one of the elite few who not only could locate Broadus on a map, but I could name off landmarks. You see, I've been to Broadus many times over the last 26 years and mentioned two other small "burgs," Hammond and Alzada and then he said he was actually from Biddle and a school teacher at the High School in Broadus. That's how those conversations go.

Another perspective moment. Powder River County, for which Broadus is the county seat, is one third the size of Vermont, there are about 1800 people that live there. Biddle has a post office, but there is no official population.

"Mark" teaches here in the area. He promised to drop by my office at work when he had the chance. I'll probably see him again. This is how folks from Montana recognize one another. We seem to gravitate towards one another wherever we may be, probably because of style issues. Being polite is one of them.

In the end I found out some things about myself. Vermont is like that. It's not revealing that I am the best of people despite what may seem to have been revealed about my character by my encounter out back of Penneys, other things came to light as well, not so wonderful things about myself.

I've been having trouble remembering people's names around here. I've worked at this job for 9 months. I still can't tell you who I work with in some departments. I had written it off to age and bemoaned my deteriorating condtion, and indeed, some of my inablity should be laid at the feet of my advancing age, but most of it, I have to admit, is due to a less flattering cause. I don't care about these people. That's ugly.

As I drove away from the Mall I found that I do indeed know how to remember names. As I focused on the positives about two Montana guys finding each other 2600 miles from home, I realized I still had the talent for remembering names as I did everything necessary to burn "Mark's" name into my memory. Those people at Church and at Work that I have difficulty when it comes to recalling their names? It's because I have no love for them, or very little. I need to work on that, or the next guy from Troy or Circle or Ennis, won't recognize me and I'll have no one to blame but myself.

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1 comment:

Moonaroo said...

I have also noticed people from Montana, I have worked with more than a few, the reason that I know who they are is because they are always talking about how they are going to move back there!