Newspapers at the counters bring people together
I love those free trading post newspapers you see in gas stations and restaurant waiting rooms. These are the kind of posts that don’t seem to have much to say until you open them up and give them a chance.
In the rushing back and forth that we enjoy living our lives, many of us miss the old trading post papers. It’s not that they’re not there, waiting to be picked up; it’s just that we seem to feel like everything we need is already in the palm of our hand. We don’t know what we don’t know because we don’t take time for things like the trading post journal.
Then you find yourself standing in line and you see the trading post is stacked high, a thin layer folded over a thin folded layer. On either side are thicker, coupon-filled, color-illustrated, and seemingly larger posts. Lined next to its expensive counterparts, the trading post’s newspaper looks small and insignificant.
I decided to give the trading post a try this week, just to see why so many posts get released and why they manage to keep posting. Printed in black and white and without any images other than the ads, the post is full of words but doesn’t seem overly wordy.
Each page has five columns filled with classified ads. That’s it. The whole thing is classified ads. Some are titled Community Reviews, some for Sale, and some Wanted. As I went through these little messages of demands and awareness, I began to understand why the trading post is important to the many people who take it every week.
There is no political propaganda and there are no celebrity updates. The ads are straightforward and don’t feel like they were created by marketing gurus in company offices. All you really see are posts from one community member to another.
This week’s trading post taught me a lot. I learned that there are bingo nights every Sunday and Wednesday at one of the local community halls. The first prize is $ 2,000! On another page, a lady asked if there was anyone in town interested in making quilts and crochet items. She said the homemade artwork would benefit worthy charities. Anyone interested should call him.
Between the church service listings and event notices, there were requests for help with interesting household chores that seemed a bit urgent. One guy said he would pay to have a free hot tub transported. I guess he didn’t need it anymore.
There were also unique requests for items you might find lying around your house. One guy said he wanted an 18 foot windmill. He said he didn’t need to be functional. I was wondering if next week’s issue would have a list looking for someone to help move a windmill.
Page after page, simple things were happening. Community members communicated with other members of the community, hoping to connect with others who might fill a need in their lives. They weren’t using gadgets or flashy images. There were no misleading headlines or brackets. Just words.
Everyone had the same space, the same font. Everyone was equal. In the local trading post, the people, our neighbors, come together to express how their needs and contributions can make a difference to one another. One small, seemingly insignificant message at a time.
It is worth reading.
Abe Villarreal writes about life and culture in southern New Mexico. He can be contacted at [email protected]
More daily observations: