How I Told Dodge City’s Power Grid “Stop Breathing” Within 10 Minutes of Getting Here, and Other First Impressions

Dodge City: So far, it doesn’t suck.

That’s the simmered version of the first impression I have of the place.

It’s 7:31 a.m. as I type this. I drove my Dodge into Dodge just under 14 hours ago, and immediately got a laugh. If you ever get the chance to see that movie “The Dark Tower,” or if you read the book it’s based on, you’ll recall the “Man In Black” who (I think) is basically a killable version of the devil. Well, one of this man’s powers is to be able to kill people by simply telling them “Stop Breathing.”

It felt like I did that very thing to this city last night. The forecast called for sunny skies and 81 when I would get there, having left Manhattan, Kansas earlier that morning in the middle of heavy thunderstorms.

But as I arrived, Dodge City actually got hit by one, a fairly large one that brought patches of heavy rain. As I walked in and introduced myself to the young hotel clerk at the place I’ll be staying these next few days, I handed him my debit card and ID, the former of which he ran like all hotels do when you check in.

As he ran it, there was some thunder outside, a flicker of the lights, then all the power went out. To the entire hotel.┬áThe young man (probably 17 but nice enough) went to get the manager who lives on-site, and before long she got it all setup and me checked into my room with a master-key. I told them I’d leave to get dinner and hope things would be on when I got back.

I got in my truck and departed for the nearby Applebee’s (what better way to eavesdrop on the community a bit than to people-watch at a bar), only to find on the way that it was about half the city that had lost power. Patrons and employees of businesses along Wyatt Earp Boulevard stood outside their business, police coordinated traffic at busy stoplights, and I instead had to figure out what else to do with my time.

I found the city’s one Wal-Mart. That’s how I spent my first few hours in Dodge City. Sidenote, I did eventually go to Applebee’s. Stomach: 1, Thunderstorm: 0.

This morning, however, I think I’ve had a little more success getting a feel for the city, or at least a first-impression.

After waking up due to a nightmare about being on a six-mile run on my first day of work and realizing I’d be late to my first day (which today is), I decided to shower, watch a little Sportscenter, and go find breakfast.

I had seen on maps that there was a coffee shop. Not a Starbucks, mind you, but a coffee shop. Also, I wanted pancakes and the “Big Breakfast” thing from McDonald’s, not realizing my hotel offered continental breakfast (but which I probably wouldn’t have done anyways because I wanted to get out and see the city in the pre-dawn hours).

Dodge City has two, and according to Google Maps, they’re both open 24 hours. That already gives this city a plus-1 in my book. Say what you want to say about how it “isn’t real food” or is terrible for you, but there’s something I believe to be absolute fact: when you need cheap, bad-for-you-but-filling food, you really really need cheap, bad-for-you-but-filling food. Like when you’re drunk. Or when you haven’t slept a lot because you woke up from the most lame nightmare ever. Neither of the two McDonald’s in Manhattan is open 24 hours.

Which brings me to point out another thing that’s open apparently 24-hours per day here:

Just about friggin everything.

Dodge City: 1, Manhattan: 0.

Maybe, as I drove around at 6 a.m., the places I saw closed overnight and just had their employees come in super-early, so “24 hours” might be a little hyperbolic.

Here’s what I noticed though. Perhaps by virtue of this place being a major trucker location in the far southwest corner of Kansas, compared to Manhattan which basically just has a Big 12 university and is 10 miles away from the interstate, I still find it exciting to see just how many people are on the roads and at work at 6 a.m. here.

This is, of course, perhaps purely a “me-problem” I’ve had with other places, because I am both an extravert and a morning-person. So I draw energy from being around people, and am at my very best in the mornings.

There’s more hustle-and-bustle in this city at 6 a.m. then there is in Topeka, Kansas, and certainly in Manhattan, Kansas, each of which has at-least about twice as many people.

That, is exciting to me. Sure, I’ll probably have to become more of night-owl here soon because today I start my new job as the sports editor at the Dodge City Globe, and who knows, maybe my first impression of the place will prove totally false and today is just an exception to things.

My first-impression of the city, however, is a good one. Now, if I can just find a nice apartment and a decent mocha, it’ll be about perfect.

 

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