If you are new to a town, or possibly just confused by it -- if you find yourself sitting at home wondering where it is that people go, or what it is they do on, for example, a Monday night at eight o’clock, there are ways to find answers to these questions.
If you really cannot figure out where people are, get in your car. Let’s go for a scenic trip around town. Where people are is usually, in a small suburban town, where all the cars are. Take a drive through the busier streets of your town. You will probably find, as I have, that large amounts of people tend to be where large amounts of paving is found. On Monday nights at eight o’clock in my little town, people are at Wal-Mart and churches and Golden Coral.
You might think that restaurants are an obvious place for people to be, but you might find, like I did, that this is not true. People are at Golden Coral but not Applebee’s. People are at McDonald's but not Burger King. Lots of people are not, however, at one particular place.
It may seem obvious after I say it, but even though there might be large amounts of pavement there, people are not at closed places. This would seem to spell out pretty simply, to me, that in a town not much different than mine, if you want people to be visiting your establishment the most important thing you can do is not to close it while people are still going places.
Go ahead, drive around a little further. What else do you see? People are at the movie theater, but not at the book store. People are at the dollar store and the mall and the gas station and the liquor store and Whataburger and the grocery store, but not at the pubs. The other main place you are probably noticing that people are, as you drive around and see these places, is that people are at their homes.
But enough of that—
Sure, driving around seeing where cars are tells you where large numbers of people are, but it doesn’t tell you were people are going. So pick a car, that dark red one right in front of you is good. Now follow it. Follow them to where they are going. Individual cars go places the masses may never lead you.
A new Chevrolet Aveo with the dealer tags still on that expire in less than a month, in a town like mine, driving down a street lined with chain stores and strip malls is going to Target.
If you are a car pulling out of Target right as the car I am following pulled into Target, going the same direction I am going, you are going home.
The white Dodge Durango with a well worn sticker on the bumper backing Rudy for President fourteen months before the elections, you are being towed.
A charcoal colored car with a woman and two small kids might be going to rent movies for the evening.
If you are a muddy 1992 Toyota royal blue pick-up truck you can bet your ass you are parked in what was, until a year ago, the Bennigan's parking lot with a gaggle of other muddy trucks, sitting on your tailgate talking.
It’s okay to give up now. You don’t want to follow people forever. You might soon find yourself in a grim situation you cannot easily get yourself out of. And it’s also okay if you didn’t find anywhere to go in this town. You can go where everybody already seems to be. You can go home now to watch TV. Maybe tomorrow you’ll find something to do, somewhere to go.