Living in a Small Town is Tricky

Real Estate Agent with Sequim & Port Angeles Real Estate

I practice in a small town, namely Sequim, Washington.  Being in business for yourself in a small town is tricky.  I learned this as a young man where I grew up in Tok, Alaska.  Tok (pronounced "Toke") was a small town of 400 residents and is on the Alaska Highway 90 miles from the Canadian border.  Blink and you miss Tok.

I grew up in a 900 square foot cabin with two sisters, a brother, and mom and dad, and a wood stove, a Coleman lantern hanging on a bent 16-penny nail in the center of the living room ceiling, and of course, an outhouse.

I did not know we lived a humble lifestyle or that we were living without.  All I knew is we had what we needed, and I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom as a boy running in the woods with my dog, hunting and fishing with dad, and keeping warm at 60 degrees below zero next to the homemade barrel wood stove.

But living in a small town presented certain challenges, not the least of which was privacy.  We didn't have the Internet back then, but any thought you had was somehow instantly known by the other 399 residents in Tok.  There were no secrets.  Like the Internet today, any stories, whether true or not, were permantently etched in everyone's memory. 

Like the story about my sister trying to empty the honey bucket on one cold winter day.  Us men just used the outhouse, but the girls did not like that cold toilet seat in the outhouse, so they bought a honey bucket from the Sears and Robuck catalogue, which they kept in their bedroom.  They had to empty it when it when it got full, which brings me to the story.  For reasons that I never understood, but found quite humorous, my sisters would take turns emptying the bucket, but they would wait until the bucket was nearly full to the brim (aka "procrapstination").  One day while my brother and I were outside, we watched my younger sister come out on the front porch carrying the full honey bucket.  Unfortunately for her, and to our great amusement, she slipped on one of the three steps that were covered with snow, and the bucket went high overhead while she managed to end up below the bucket. 

When the dust settled (I guess there are other phrases I could use here), she was completly covered with the contents of the aforementioned honey bucket.  My brother and I took one look at her with toilet paper in her hair and started roaring with laughter.  Neither my sister, nor my mother thought it was funny.  Remember, we had no electricity, hot water, or showers.  It took a while for my sister to get cleaned up. 

Life in a small town is fun, sometimes. 

When I grew up, I came back to Tok and practiced as a Realtor.  But I never forgot that every thought I had was somehow projected to every other Tokite.  That made negotiating real estate very hard.  There were no secrets.

Now as a broker and buyer's agent in Sequim, Washington, I am very careful.  I never lift buckets with contents that scare me, nor do I laugh at people with toilet paper in their hair.


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Tiffany Torgan
Harcourts Prestige Properties of La Jolla - La Jolla, CA
Featured on HGTV's New Show! How Close Can I Beach

Hi Chuck, where I live it is a small beach community you are always running into someone!

May 27, 2010 10:31 AM #1
Matt Grohe
RE/MAX Concepts - Des Moines, IA
Serving the metro since 2003

Chuck: Great recollections on your home community. Being a real estate agent in a small town like that must have presented many challenges.

May 27, 2010 10:37 AM #2
Kate Bourland
Marketing with Kate - Redding, CA
Onlilne Marketing Mobile Marketing

not what I expected in a blog post, most enjoyable read.  That's quite an image - eeewwwww.  Thanks for sharing!

May 27, 2010 07:41 PM #3
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Chuck Marunde

Sequim Real Estate Broker
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