By Bruce Murray
The other day I took an online survey to determine if I was a country or a city person. To my surprise the survey revealed I was only 41 per cent country. How did that happen? What went wrong?
I was born in a small town, grew up in very small northern communities and spent most of my married life in small towns or on an acreage.
I drive a pickup, own cowboy boots, hunt, fish and can ride a horse. As a teenager, I worked on the McIntyre Ranch. I can drive a tractor, run a swather, bale hay and have driven 18-wheelers.
I mostly wear jeans, use leather gloves and have a ball cap that is dirty from real work. I do most of my shopping at Wal-Mart or Costco. That all sounds OK.
On the flip side — I have lived in a city, I have owned a car, I mostly wear shoes not boots and I can tie a Windsor knot in a necktie. I admit to have suits made for me in Hong Kong. This is not looking good. I’ve been a business executive, have a university degree, I’ve been elected to a town council, been to a Broadway stage show in New York and I have eaten six-snake soup in Shanghai, China. I think I’m in trouble.
I decided to consult an expert, so I spoke to a friend who has lived in the same small town most of his life. First, I asked him if he qualified as a real country person. He assured me he did. We then reviewed all my positive country attributes and he agreed they were all good. We then talked about the potential negatives I had accumulated. He shook his head and sighed, “you really have gone to the dark side” and laughed.
In desperation, I asked about his background. He admitted he too had lived in a city, had a university degree, ran a business and liked to shop at Costco. He had been to a stage show but pointed out it was in Las Vegas, so it didn’t count. He had never been to China but after prompting shared he had vacationed in France. He did say eating snake soup was a real negative but finally admitted to eating escargot (and liked it) something I had never tried. Then the clincher. He hated country music. I was starting to feel a lot better.
I was beginning to think maybe the online survey was broken and I might just still be country.
So who is a country person? We agreed it wasn’t a matter of what you had done in life or what you wear but perhaps it was a state of mind or an attitude. Things like helping out a neighbour in trouble, working hard, believing you can make the world a better place by your actions. Caring for your family, being polite, tolerant of others’ mistakes and never giving up.
Hang on a minute. I know people that live in the city and they also share those same values. Could it be we are all a little bit country? I believe we are. That is the wonderful thing about southern Alberta. We care about each other and have strong roots in our communities. We have great values and try every day to do our best.
To quote the John Denver song:
“Well a simple kinda life never did me no harm
A raisin’ me a family and workin’ on a farm
My days are all filled with an easy country charm
Thank God I’m a country boy.”
P.S. No more online surveys.
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