Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Danger of Working in a Small Town

There are upsides to working in a small town. For example, everybody knows each other.

There are downsides to working in a small town. For example, everybody knows each other.

Working in a city environment, I have seen, can at times be very cold and stressful, as you are just one of millions of people toiling away each day in a tight radius of monster buildings.

Working in a rural environment, I have seen, can at times be very insular and uninspiring, as everybody seems to know each other since most of the people who work in the area also live right around the corner and the gossip spreads like wildfire.

To give a comparison, my first job out of college was as a law firm clerk in Center City, Philadelphia. While there, my boss and mentor gave me lots of great advice. One piece of advice that stuck with me was the old saying, "Loose lips sink ships." In other words, you're a professional, working for a reputable law firm with clients' personal lives in the balance. Don't go blabbing about their cases out in public. Doing that could lose a client or a case and potentially destroy the law firm.

Well, now that I work out in farmland U.S.A. where everybody knows each other, I've learned the importance of this advice. Case in point: a woman I work with (let's call her Jane), who lives in the area, was talking to somebody she knows who works at a law firm where another co-worker of mine (let's call him John) is a client. This law firm employee told Jane something that John is requesting that really annoyed the heck out of the entire law firm. So then Jane comes and tells me what her friend said about what John is doing. So... there goes your confidentiality folks. And so much for having any privacy in a small town.

So for those of you who work (or live) in a small town, enjoy the fact that you're not just another ant marching down the sidewalk, but don't forget that if you so much as look at somebody the wrong way, everybody within a 20 mile radius will know about it the next day. Simple fact of life.

Now don't tell anybody that I told you this...

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