Privacy? Oh, Puh-leez!

Because I am extremely busy this last week of Jack being gone (found a backhoe!) and because the Edward Snowden stuff has made everybody jumpy on the subject, I am re-running here a blog I did back before my book came out, on the expectation of privacy in small towns. At that time, people were concerned about Facebook, but it’s been updated to encompass the phone hacking concerns. Enjoy.

I don’t know why people are so het up about privacy issues concerning the government and our phone calls. First of all, the government has shown itself so thoroughly efficient in other matters, we should all be quaking in our boots that they’ve set up a phone monitoring plan? HA!

But honestly, living as Jack and I do in a town of five thousand, we know there is no such thing as privacy. Never has been, not for us rural dwellers, anyway.

In a small town, when you pass the grocery store (THE grocery store) you can tell by the license plates or car makes who is shopping there. Same with the liquor store. Or any other {ahem} establishment a body might frequent. Go to the doctor at 11 am, and by 5 pm someone from your church calls to find out what’s wrong with you.

That’s why pastors have parishoners buy their hard stuff. That’s why teachers drive to the state line to buy lingerie. That’s why Jack and I gave up on selling addiction recovery books in our shop.

In a small town, what your child did to get in trouble at school makes it home before s/he does. The poor kid gets it twice, because during lunch the school nurse, who happens to be your sister’s worst enemy, calls HER sister to gloat about whatever it was, and five minutes later her sister has told her friend who has told another friend who happens to be your pastor’s wife…..

The other day, I checked a book of folktales out of the library; it was titled “The Rat Catcher’s Daughter.” When our termite control man showed up to do his monthly routine a couple of days later, he said, “You know, we take care of rodents, too.”

“We don’t have a problem with them. Never seen one. Must be the staff cats,” my husband replied.

The man winked. “Sure, right, but if Wendy’s thinking she can catch them herself, it’s not much more money to have mice and rats in your contract, and they’re hard work. Don’t worry; we’ll be discreet.”

Jack gave him a blank look. Turns out our termite guy’s wife volunteers at the library, saw me check out the book with the misleading title, and noted it to her husband, knowing we were his customers. Jack showed Tom the folktale collection. They had a good laugh. All in a day’s small town living.

And y’all are worried about privacy loss due to our so-very-efficient government trying to glean info from phone calls? Puhleaze….


Filed under Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized

6 responses to “Privacy? Oh, Puh-leez!

  1. Hilda (Book Medley)

    I lived in a town of 5000, along with MANY of my relatives. Certainly don’t need a party line in these small towns.

  2. Maggie

    We’re also in a small town (about 2500 households) and I see people get all worked up about nothing when it comes to privacy. One of the local library staff, S., ordered a book from us. The day it came in, two of her coworkers came in at lunch, and I asked them to let S. know her book was in. I didn’t tell them the title or what she paid or anything that really would be none of their business. Just that she had a book to pick up. She was really upset and told me later not to do that again, but to call her cell. I also have a SIL who’s pregnant who posted on Facebook that the “test was fine, but she’s on bedrest.” When I left a comment asking her how long she’s on bedrest for, and what the test was for, she got all upset with me. Told me I should have called or sent a private message. I told her (in a private message) that she shouldn’t post something on Facebook that she doesn’t want to talk about on Facebook, and now she’s not talking to me.

  3. Janice Brooks-Headrick

    Yep, that;s small town. We also had party lines, everyone went to THE Church, and our teachers went to church with our parents. No place for privacy, you were known from the day you were born, or sometimes, before, if they also knew your parents and grandparents. Jan

    Janice Brooks-Headrick 865-429-1783 Storyteller Author Instigator Timeline: Email:

  4. James

    Another waste of government money. All they have to do is stand in any Wal-Mart checkout line.

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