The Top 15 Things I Learned in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

The town of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania is kind of like your stereotypical small-town USA. Everybody knows everybody else, the people are friendly, the food is good, the air is clean, and you realize how much worse New Jersey and New York are after five minutes.

Would I want to move out there? I don’t really know. The places that I take for granted here, being right around the corner, are a bit farther away. There are less stores, restaurants, and things to do, but what they lack there they make up for in friendliness and honesty.

I was planning on buying an old pickup truck while I was out there because they are much cheaper, but that did not come to fruition (certain people in my family dissuaded me, much to my protest). However, what I went through to look at the truck showed how honest people are there. I went to your prototypical “Oh my God, they’re going to screw you” used car lot to look at a 1979 Ford F100, which was in immaculate shape considering its age. When I asked the mechanic who worked there if anything was wrong with it, I expected him to say, “Nothing. It runs great.” But instead, he stopped what he was doing and told me, “We have a list in the back. I’ll show you after you test drive it.”

The extremely clean and well-kept engine of the Ford F100.

Here I was, an out-of-towner who they could have screwed into buying a piece of junk, but gave me a list of things that needed to be fixed up. There was not a lot, but since they could not come down on the price, and it needed more money in work done, I could not commit the amount they were asking for a 31-year-old vehicle. I’m still glad I checked it out, though.

Below is what I learned in the four days I spent in Shippensburg:

1. People are friendly. Complete strangers say “hello” and “good morning” to each other when walking down the sidewalk, without an effort. You can get into a twenty-minute conversation with someone while waiting for a table at a restaurant.

2. You can buy a breakfast special at the local hole-in-the-wall diner for $3.25 and leave with leftovers.

3. A legal shooting range consists of your friend’s back yard.

4. If several families live on a mountain, they can purchase it from the state of Pennsylvania and own it.

5. When the town’s only book store closes down, an adult XXX book and DVD shop opens to take its place.

6. Everybody owns a pickup truck, even if they don’t drive it and it just sits in the driveway.

7. You can walk into an antique shop and walk out with a WWII Japanese sniper rifle without breaking the bank…or the law.

8. Teenagers go to restaurants with their families on Friday and Saturday nights.

9. You can buy beer at a Pizza Hut.

10. Bars do not card, they take your word for it.

11. You can walk down the street with an unregistered rifle and no permit and a cop will pull over only to tell you what an awesome piece you have.

12. The best Mexican restaurant on the planet (Montezuma’s) is located in a town whose population is less than that of the high school I graduated from.

13. People spend thousands of dollars on a security system for their house but leave the door unlocked.

14. “Don’t worry, Greg, this is Pennsylvania. We have guns here.”- Jeff Huber

15. Pennsylvania drivers are misunderstood. They are not driving that slow under their own volition. People behind a Pennsylvania driver fail to look beyond the big pickup truck they’re driving to see the asshole from New York camped out in the left lane thinking he owns the God damned road.

I think the moment of the week will go to my friend Jeff who was with me. After buying the WWII Arisaka rifle pictured above, we went to another antique shop across the street where there was a guy standing behind a grill selling barbecued ribs and chicken. Jeff pulls the gun out of the trunk, aims it at the guy, and said, “How much for those ribs now?” The man, playing along, threw his arms up in the air and yelled, “Take em! Take em all!”, then laughed.

I have to think that Pennsylvania is the only state a person could get away with that, without the cops being called and psychiatrists brought in to counsel the traumatized onlookers to the horrific event.

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