Written after my move to Fitzgerald, Ga in 2006 – published in the local city paper.
I am definitely a newcomer to this small southern town. Never mind that more than five generations of my family have lived here – I am the newcomer. I know this for a fact because of one simple, minor, annoying small thing.
There is, on Lemon Street, a stop sign in front of a railroad track crossing. Now this is a spur track that serves the industrial part of town, and there are seldom trains that use this track. It is quite clear that this fact is well known to all who live in this small town – all except for ME (the newcomer). I still see a stop sign at this railroad crossing. I am apparently the only one in town who does – no one, and I mean NO ONE else in town, stops for this sign. Not even the city propane truck stops at this sign, even though it clearly states on the truck’s bumper “We stop at all railroad crossings.” Doesn’t matter – they don’t stop. Neither, by the way, do the police – either the city police or the sheriff’s deputies!
I am apparently the only fool in town who has not figured out that this one particular stop sign is entirely optional, and may freely be ignored, at will, with complete impunity. I have nearly been rear-ended three times trying to stop for this sign when I was followed by another city resident who could not tell I was a newcomer (and did not know the secret) and who was quite obviously NOT expecting for this crazy fool to stop for the sign that nobody else stops for.
I wonder – will I no longer be new if I stop stopping?