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Renner: The Old Queen City

The Old Queen City

(Sing to the melody of "The Old Grey Mare")

The Old Queen City,

She ain't what she use to be

Ain't what she use to be

Ain't what she use to be

The Old Queen City,

She ain't what she use to be

Five short years ago.

Five years ago, I used to tell everyone that I loved living in Dickinson because a person wasn't 5 minutes away from anything. If you needed to go to the doctor, you could leave 5 minutes before your appointment and get there in plenty of time. Of course, you still had to wait an hour or more to actually get in to see the doctor.

If you were out of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, it was a 5-minute drive to the grocery store and the emergency situation was under control. Not having any Ben & Jerry's in the freezer constitute and emergency situation in my house.

All summer we had major road construction going on at our busiest intersection. Traffic was backed up for blocks in all four directions and turning left to the grocery store wasn't even an option. Of course, the alternative routes were also busy and had to be carefully planned out and thought through. The grocery store parking lot itself has become an obstacle driving course. The lot is the same size as it was when Dickinson was the way she used to be.

But now, 7,000 more people are trying to park in the same available space. Well not all 7,000 people at once, but it sure seems like it. So many more people are backing out of parking spaces and swinging into parking spaces all at the same time.

It is these little traffic annoyances that we here in Dickinson are just not use to. I do think that all 7,000 people are eating Ben & Jerry's ice cream. It is a rare occasion when I get to the grocery store and Chunky Monkey is actually in the freezer. And yes, I take the rest of whatever is there because it will be months before I am every so lucky again.

This phenomenon is another way Dickinson just "ain't the way she use to be." For years, I could make a Walmart list, drive to Walmart in 5 minutes, get everything on my list and drive home; all within 45 minutes. Today the drive to Walmart takes much longer and is much more dangerous. One always has to be on the lookout for people who consider stop signs as a suggestion and have never heard of right-of-way rules. At Walmart, you are lucky to get 75 percent of the things on your list.

My favorite flavors of Tums Smoothies are almost always out of stock. Evidently, the stressful driving experience gives everyone a stomach ache. I have not seen my favorite black Paper Mate Flair pens hanging in their empty spot for six months. Seriously, is there a recall I have not heard about? The only thing I can think of is that there is a government regulation that all oilfield related paperwork must be filled out using a black Flair pen.

There is nothing more irritating for a "list" person to have to come home from Walmart and immediately began a new list for the next adventure to WalmartLand. While on the topic of Walmart, one of the things that really bothers me is how messed up the store gets. I am not talking about the Snoopy Band-Aids ending up by the PopTarts. That I can understand. What I don't understand is an open package of Oreo Cookies in the women's panties bin. Really? How does something like this even happen? I am not even going to try and guess what was going on in that persons mind. And call me picky (it rhymes with Mickey) but I for one do not like the thought of brown spots on my underwear before they even leave the store.

There are countless ways that Dickinson just "ain't the way she used to be." You may have heard that there isn't enough affordable housing for all the new people. Sadly, at the public library, we see a lot of these guys that come in with their whole life packed into a backpack and they tell us they spent the night in their car. With temperatures getting down to the lower 40s some nights, it has to be long, cold nights for these unfortunate people.

One such guy came into the library the other day all in a frenzy and needing to use a computer. At first I thought he needed the restroom, but he blurted out that he needed to use a computer as soon as possible. Before my co-worker, Taylor, could explain where the computers were and what our policy was the guy blurted out, "I need to use a computer because my dog sent me an email. I don't know how he did it, but my sister told me I have an email from my dog!"

Taylor handled it quite well by showing the guy where the computers were and how to log on to them. He did this politely and with a straight face. I, on the other hand, stared at the guy in disbelief. I so wanted to ask him if he really didn't know how his dog sent him and email. I had an answer all ready.

"Well sir, your dog pushed a chair up to the computer, jumped up onto the chair, put his paw on the mouse and clicked into his Hotmail account. Can't you just hear his claws clicking away on the keyboard as he composes his e-mail message to you?"

I had to go sit at my desk because by now I was laughing out loud. (Something I shouldn't really be doing in a library.) However, at my desk I could see the guy sitting at a computer. You can imagine my surprise when the guy put headphones on! It hadn't crossed my mind that his dog sent him an audio email. One can only hope this guy knew how to use Google translate.

(Second Verse - Sing to the melody of The Old Grey Mare)

The Old Queen City,

She picked up the population spree

Picked up the population spree

Picked up the population spree

The Old Queen City,

Just a few short years ago.