The town I was born and raised in, the town I've lived in for all my life with the only exceptions being college and less than a year in CT, is a piece of shit. Like small towns every where the manufacturing jobs have gone, theres still a few but they're struggling. It was already in decline when it was decimated by a flood in 1972. It's never fully recovered. Instead we've build two prisons and being a guard has replaced some of the old manufacturing jobs, but its a horrible job. We have huge problems for a town on 30 thousand, some blame the prisons, its not uncommon for family members of prisoners to move to town to be near their loved one, unfortunately people who marry people who are doing time, aren't always the best of people. The nearby town of Ithaca, best known for a little school you may have heard of called Cornell had a little slogan "Ithaca is Gorges" which was a nice little play on words and can be seen on shirts and bumper stickers. Then came the parody, "Ithaca is Cold." Our town responded with "Elmira is Gangsta." But theres something about it I love, sure its cold its hard its poor but its real. I like the fact that we have lots of local pizza shops and Pizza Hut closed. But its more than that, and the other day I was reminded of what it is.
I was walking to work, there was ice every where. The sidewalks were unusable and I walked in the street. I walked by a local restaurant and the owner was out front salting the sidewalk. I stopped and talked to him for a moment as I had been in recently and used to go there quite often. He asked if my car had broken down, I said yes but I'm actually walking for exercise. He then offered me a ride (for some reason no one believes a fat guy when he says, no I actually want to walk) which I declined, but walked away a bit happier about this town, here was a guy whose business I frequent, and we chat when we see each other but the reality is I don't know his name, and I don't think he knows mine. That didn't matter though, he thought I was in need so he offered to help, it might be a pretty minor thing to get all excited about but these days being an optimist means you need to latch onto whatever you can.