Sometimes, life has a way of slapping you in the face. In our business, one would think that the world revolves around Twitter, Facebook and Google. Normally, the digital world consumes a large part of my day. But I came face to face with what is reality for many people in the world.
I spent this weekend in Sundre. If you’ve never heard of Sundre, don’t worry, You’re not alone. Sundre is 2500 hardy souls that live on the edge of the foothills in Alberta, Canada. This is about as cowboy as it gets. Stetsons, Levis (the real Levis, deep blue with no fading, artificial holes or other city slicker crap) and cowboy boots. All the parking lots are full of North American trucks and every radio station (it seems) plays country music – deep rooted country full of twang and steel guitars. My dad (the reason for my visit, but I’ll get to that in a bit) was listening to some country show on the radio that consisted of some ancient announcer going on endlessly about the “honest deals” to be found at the local farm implement dealer, punctuated occasionally by a Hank Williams or Conway Twitty song. At one point, he started talking about an upcoming community event in Hanna (which is even smaller that Sundre) and threw in the tidbit that Hanna is the home town of the “boys of Nickleback.” Hearing this old codger talk about Chad Kroeger and a rock band seemed as out of place as a Prius in the Sundre Curling Rink parking lot.
Sundre is the town I grew up in. And this weekend, I went back home because my dad just had hip replacement surgery and my mom broke her right arm. This is throwing a severe wrench into the day-to-day workings of my parent’s home. So I went to lend a hand, as well as a pair of mobile legs. The things I usually blog about never seemed further away. The role of Twitter or Facebook in defining our new social bonds didn’t come up in any of the conversations I'[ve had in the last 72 hours. Not once did the market share split of Google and Bing encroach upon my consciousness. My reality involved walkers, slings, several talks about recycling (this has become my dad’s passion) trips to grocery stores and hospital waiting rooms, cleaning out compost pails and cooking up enough food to last Mom and Dad for a week or two.
Still, the weekend was not without its charm. I was amazed during both my trips to the local grocery store (which, in a small town, is the original social network) when they insisted on carrying my bags out to my car. And I was equally astounded when on a quick trip into a liquor store to pick up a bottle of wine, the sole employee behind the till asked me to wait “just a minute” while she ran to the back of the store. Within arms reach there were at least 60 bottles of alcohol and the door was two steps away, with not a pair of watchful eyes in sight. Trust seems to run thicker in the country.
But even in Sundre, the digital revolution is being felt. High on my list of to-do’s for the weekend was getting their computer working (after a trip to Radio Shack) so they could check email. And I had to borrow a few hard back chairs with arms (borrow being a relative term, I just went to the meeting hall at the church and helped myself – they’ll make their way back eventually) for my dad so he could have three “stations” set up where he’ll be spending a good part of the next 6 weeks of recovery: one was in the corner of the front room, next to the window, so he can read his magazines and keep a watchful eye on the street, one at the table for eating, and one at the computer in the office, so he can play solitaire and check out the odd website. It may not be Ad:Tech or SES, but in Sundre, this is pretty revolutionary.