Saturday, July 30, 2011

A small town boy in the big city

There was an episode of Friends one time, where Phoebe's little brother came to visit. And he's talking to Joey and Chandler about his day goofing around NYC. He talks about visiting Times Square, chatting with some hookers, and buying ninja stars at some store. Chandler looks at Joey and remarks ruefully, "We don't take advantage of living in the city."

I was born in a smallish town west of Tampa on the Gulf. I've spent most of my life living in the same county except for a couple of years when I lived in north Tampa while attending USF. I go to Tampa for hockey games and football games, but otherwise, don't travel there for anything else but the airport.

I had to travel to Tampa the other day to drop some stuff off at one of the hotels. With some time on my hands, I decided to park the car and just walk around a bit. As I've mentioned before, I work for the post office, so I wear a uniform to work that includes shorts (obviously). I wear them year 'round, even in winter, even last winter when it was below 30 degrees, raining, with 30mph gusts. In fact, I pretty much live in shorts. My dress up is usually jeans and a shirt. But my default wardrobe is jeans and a baseball jersey. I'm not a dressy guy.

So I forget that plenty of people dress up for work. And walking around the city, seeing all these men and women in business attire . . . I feel so out of place. Like some small town rube gawking at skyscrapers for the first time. And I'm sure, compared to New York or Chicago or L.A., or some places, Tampa is still small time. But to me it looks so different from where I live my life. So alien.

I walked from downtown towards the Forum, where the Lightning play, and on to an area called Channelside. It's a connected series of shops and bars and theaters. I've heard it advertised on the radio a million times. But I've never been there. And it's within walking distance from where I watch hockey games! Honestly, how short sighted can you be?!

But while I'm walking back to my car, all I can think is what else is there around me that I don't ever take advantage of? Tourists are always stopping me on the job to ask for directions. And during the course of the conversation, something always comes up about how great it must be to live/work near the beach and how I must be there every weekend. And my usual response is that I'm too busy working to lay at the beach.

I wonder if it is like that for everyone everywhere in the world? My sister lives/works in Hawaii. I wonder if she gets to enjoy everything that her tropical paradise has to offer?

I guess that where that stuff about stopping to smell the roses comes from. Maybe I should lift my nose from the grindstone and check out what's around me before it's too late to enjoy it.

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