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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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Progress comes to town

My one-horse hometown finally got too big for its britches and has started to grow. Theyíve been working on the new shopping center over by the Interstate for some time. I didnít really pay much attention. After all, there seems to be a bull dozer digging dirt somewhere every place you look these days.

Then it opened.

New stores, a discount store, a department store, all kinds of little shops.  Itís like another whole city over there, only two miles away. Other people seem to be like me, though. They canít get used to the idea of shopping somewhere else. You still canít find a place to park at Wal-Mart, while the aisles at the new Target are like a bowling alley.

I guess we will all adjust sooner or later.

I went to Target the other day. It was my daughterís birthday and I wanted to get a gift card. I looked around a little bit, but it was like any other new store. I couldnít find stuff, didnít know where to look, and had to ask someone. It was annoying.

Some people are freaking out about it. Itís killing the old downtown, they say. Need to support our local merchants, yadda, yadda. Iím not against people making a living, but, face it, this town has been dead for a long time. It just didnít have enough sense to shut its eyes. Maybe a few new stores will rattle the cage and wake up the economy.

Yesterday my printer cartridge ran out of ink. ďOh, rats! Have to go all the way to Staples in Murfreesboro to get a new one.Ē Then I remembered. We have a Staples store here now! So, I hopped in my shoes and took off for the new shopping center. I could park right by the door. The crowds havenít found it yet.

I just hope they have what I need, I thought. I didnít need to worry. All the shelves were fully stocked. I found not only my size cartridge but also one for my daughterís printer. Wonder if they could have that jump drive like Iíve been looking for? I need some printer paper, and some photo paper, andÖ well, you get the picture. By the time I got out of there the printer cartridge cost me $200 with all the extras.

This new shopping center may be a little bit too handy.

ďI love your store!Ē I told the checker at the cash register. ďYou have everything that everyone else is sold out of!Ē

She looked a bit surprised, but soon came to her senses. ďDo you have our Rewards Card?Ē Ah, yes, the impersonal, ďpersonal touchĒ of these big box stores.

She found my card on the computer faster than I could find it in my wallet.

Yeah, itís going to take me a while. Iím just not used to the Big City being in my front yard. Itís always been down the road a bit, just inconvenient enough to keep me at home.

The bull dozers are still digging and more stores are going up all the time.  You canít stop progress, they say. Newer is better. Asphalt will surely inherit the earth.

History has a place and sometimes it can be revitalized. There are examples, usually where there is high-density population and little place for growth -- or a lot of tourists. But I think we are stuck with the inevitable. People are going where they can shop conveniently, find what they need, and most of all where there is parking.

Me too.

Now if I can just figure out how to get in and out of the danged place without turning at the wrong light, on the wrong road, or the one that doesnít go anywhere.

At least I knew where I was in the old town, even though I might have to circle that stupid roundabout three times before I could get out of it

Copyright 2008 Sheila Moss

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