For two years in my life I lived in a small town in North Dakota, which was quite a shock after growing up in Minneapolis. A few ways I knew I was living someplace very, very different:
• The town had two barbers, both of them named Ed. To avoid confusion, residents just referred to them as Slow Ed and Shaky Ed. Which barber you went to depended on whether you wanted a great haircut or you were in a hurry.
• The county's eye doctor also had recently moved from Minneapolis. She said her own aha moment came when she was giving an eye test to a boy and asked which direction the arrow was pointing. "East," he replied.
• One day I was driving out to meet a farmer, who gave me meticulous directions. But I couldn't find the section road where I was supposed to turn left. Eventually I circled around, found the farmhouse and told the farmer how I'd missed the road. “Oh!” he said. “That's right, we plowed that under three years ago.” It had been at least that long since he'd needed to give anyone directions.