Category: Abe Observes Abe Observes
Published: 09 October 2021 09 October 2021

By Abe Villarreal

I like those free trading post newspapers you see in gas stations and restaurant waiting areas. They are the kind of publications that don't seem like they have much to say until you open them and give them a chance.

In the fast-paced back and forth way we like to live our lives, many of us miss the old trading post newspapers. It's not that they are 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 newspaper.

Then, you find yourself waiting in line, and you see the trading post is piled high, thin folded layer on top of thin folded layer. On each side are thicker publications, coupon-filled, color-pictured, and seemingly more important. Laying next to its costly counterparts, the trading post newspaper feels small and insignificant.

I decided to give the trading post a try this week, just to see why so many are published and why they manage to keep on getting published. Printed in black and white and free of any pictures outside of the advertisements, the publication is full of words but doesn't feel too wordy.

Each page has five columns filled with small classified ads. That's it. The whole thing is classified ads. Some are titled Community Notice, others For Sale, and others Wanted. As I made my way through these little messages of requests and outreach, I began to appreciate why the trading post is meaningful to the many that pick it up each week.

There is no political propaganda and it's free of celebrity updates. The ads are plain and don't feel like they were created by marketing gurus in corporate offices. All you really see are messages from one community member to another.

This week's trading post taught me many things. I learned that there are bingo nights each Sunday and Wednesday at one of the local community halls. The top prize is $2,000! On a different page, a lady asked if there was anyone in town that was interested in making lap quilts and crocheting items. She said that the homemade works of art would benefit worthy charities. Anyone interested should give her a call.

In between listings of church services and event notices, there were requests for help with interesting household chores that felt a bit urgent. One guy said that he would pay to have a free hot tub hauled away. I guess he didn't have a use for it anymore.

There were also unique requests for items that you may find lying around your place. A fella listed that he wanted an 18-foot windmill. He said it didn't need to be functional. I wondered if next week's issue would have a listing seeking someone to help move a windmill.

On page after page, simple things were happening. Community members were communicating to other community members, hoping to make a connection with others that could fill a need in their lives. They weren't using gimmicks or flashy pictures. There were no headlines or deceiving hooks. Just words.

Everyone had the same amount of space, the same font. Everyone was equal. In the local trading post newspaper, people, our neighbors, come together to express how their needs and their contributions can make a difference to each other. One small, seemingly insignificant post at a time.

It's worth a read.