The Middle of Nowhere (Can you find it on a map?)
Working from home on websites for international customers has certain occupational hazards if you live out in the middle of nowhere.
Allow me to explain. I pay for my family’s daily rations of bread, water and the occasional snow flake (when in season) by promoting my clients’ sites, mostly to the search engines. My clients don’t live just down the road from me. That’s mostly because my clients are neither sheep nor cows, but also because they are comfortably settled in Australia, Britain, Florida, the Midwest, California and other far-flung places.
Occasionally, one of them wants to know where in Canada my operations are located. It would sound most impressive to mumble something about a 32nd floor vista overlooking the Toronto harbor, then hold the phone out the window to capture the sound of honking horns and shouts of foul language below.
However, a more honest answer would be that I am overlooking snow, trees, and snow…and in the distance I can see the barn where the sheep choir practices on summer afternoons.
I suppose I could fake it. The problem is that they don’t sell CDs full of honking and swearing. And relaxation music probably won’t impress many clients.
So I just tell the truth. I live in the middle of nowhere.
But where exactly is the middle of nowhere? About a mile to the east is Dunbar, a fourteen-home hamlet that boasts two churches, a community hall, a play park, a lube service for farm equipment, and the tulip lady, whose yard is somewhat messy but looks like a festival every spring.
A mile to the west is Elma, a hamlet that boasts a dozen houses and a truck.
We live in a nameless hamlet half-way between, but we do overlook the Elma Public School, which must have immigrated during a slowdown in the Elma economy (the truck driver went on vacation! ).
Think I’m making this up because this is a humor column and I’m supposed to stretch the truth to make it sound funny? Not this time. But wait – reality gets even funnier.
If you send me a letter, do not address it to “middle of nowhere” or “nameless hamlet”. The post office and the phone company both say I live in Chesterville. But there are a few complications.
For instance, Chesterville is actually a seven minute drive past cows, horses, trucks, corn fields and Dunbar’s famous tulip lady. In theory, we could walk it in a brisk three hours, but we have not tested that theory yet.
Another complication is that Chesterville does not technically exist. The municipality is actually called North Dundas Township, and Chesterville is just one of three towns located in that municipality.
Then there is the small matter of our house not even being located in the same municipality as Chesterville. Our land is in fact located in Williamsburg, another town that technically does not exist and can also be reached by a brisk three-hour walk – past the vacationing truck driver. Williamsburg is actually part of the municipality of South Dundas Township. The South Dundas municipal staff happily confirm this fact every four months by sending a friendly property tax missive.
Trying to explain this to somebody in London or Brisbane can be quite confusing. So I just tell them I am located in the very middle of nowhere, with a 28k Internet connection (thank God for satellites) and the sweet aroma of crop fertilizer drifting in through the window.
Lately, however, my conscience has been getting the better of me. Am I really being honest to say I live in the middle of nowhere? We are midway between two hamlets, midway between two non-existent towns and our property clearly straddles two different municipalities. Would it not be more accurate to say we are on the edge of everywhere? And if we are on the edge of everywhere, can we at the same time be in the middle of nowhere? Or are we on the edge of nowhere? I should have paid more attention in high school when we were studying relative geography.
Of course, all this is academic, since geography is irrelevant when working on the Internet. And when a client occasionally calls, they know immediately where I work.
“It sounds like you have your hands full Should I call back later?. “
“That’s OK,” I answer. “Little Lady always reacts that way when Little Sister’s diaper overflows on her lap. She’ll get over it. Now, about that contract…”