Lee Pitts: Signs of Overpopulation
I’m not what you’d call a real people person. I like being alone with myself and enjoy people only in small bunches. I get the heebie-jeebies in a crowd or the big city and, like Owen Wister, author of The Virginian, I like the feeling that “each breath you take tells you no one else has ever used it before you.”
Other than my college years and one year on the outskirts of Albuquerque, I’ve always lived in, or near, a small town. For the past 30 years we’ve lived next to a sprawling state park on the outskirts of a town called Los Osos, where an onslaught of people has yet to arrive. I get my mail in a neighboring town because 30 years ago no post office boxes were available at our post office and some weeks, due to high demand, their allotment of one roll of stamps per week was sold before I got there.
When we first moved here we only had one Mexican restaurant and one grocery store, and it wasn’t a chain store. Now two chains have divided the small pie and due to a lack of customers there’s plenty of parking, I always have access to my beloved Skinny Cow fudge bars and seldom do I encounter another person in the same aisle.
Judging by the age of folks here, we still seem to be thinning out the herd and the cemetery is still growing faster than the town. But I am concerned because we are starting to see signs of overpopulation. Just recently the billboard at the Community Center listed two events ON THE SAME DAY, whereas before, they didn’t have two events in the same month. Last Thursday both the Food Bank and Weight Watchers met; one meeting was for people who needed food and the other was for people who don’t. I don’t know if the fact that our little burg is large enough to support a Weight Watchers group is because our town has grown so big, or the people in it have.
I look back fondly at the time when our town was still stuck in the dark ages and we didn’t have a geologist, gynecologist, golf pro, Round Table or a Dominoes. And we didn’t have a single red light in town, ether of the traffic or companionship variety. We didn’t have a street sweeper, police force (still don’t) and the sheriff was always there if needed if we had a crime wave, such as a jaywalker. We didn’t have a local dog catcher and none was needed because we all knew which dog belonged where. We still don’t have an airport, arts council or museum and neither Mr. Peanut, the Oscar Meyer Wiener Mobile, or a Presidential candidate has ever made a stop here.
Thirty years ago you wouldn’t think of staying overnight in our small town unless your car broke down or you were hopelessly lost. Now we have a motel and a couple old houses have been turned into bed and breakfasts and, I must admit, they were a welcome addition when the in-laws came to visit.
For years we had no form of local government and it was wonderful. Then a bunch of busybodies decided we needed another layer of government to support and our town became a “community services district.” Whatever that is. Our new local leaders bought new pickups, letterhead stationery and some ground for an all new sewer right in the middle of town. Then they declared bankruptcy.
On a positive note, I’m happy to report that in my small town cows still outnumber lawyers, there are more speed bumps than traffic signals, and my wife and I would be the only Pitts in the phone book. If we had one.
I’m reluctant to say how much I love my small town because I don’t want big city folks to “discover” our town and relocate or retire here. We already have too many goofy greenies and urbanite idiots. So, let me hasten to add that the few sidewalks we have roll up at eight, we don’t have a movie theater, or any other form of entertainment, and the place is overrun by coyotes, skateboarders, mountain lions, soccer moms, old hippies and bear statues. So, get out while you still can.