NORTH PLATTE, NE–Lifelong North Platte resident Fred Linder, 46, revealed Monday that he doesn't think he could cope with the fast-paced hustle and bustle of Omaha, the Cornhusker State's largest city.
"Oh, sure, I bet it'd be exciting at first, going to see 9 p.m. showings of movies, shopping at those big department stores, and maybe even eating at one of those fancy restaurants that doesn't use iceberg lettuce in their salads," Linder said. "But I just don't think I could put up with all that hub-bub for more than a day or two."
Added Linder: "And parking's a nightmare there."
Linder expressed doubts about Omaha's "hectic pace" while having dinner at the home of Pastor Bob Egan, the longtime spiritual leader of North Platte's Holy Christ Almighty Church.
"I'd just returned from a 'Prayer & Share' fellowship conference in Omaha, and I mentioned to Fred how much I enjoyed myself there," Egan said. "There's just so much to do: dining, shopping, seeing the sights–[wife] Margaret and I even saw a touring production of Phantom Of The Opera. But Fred just seemed uncomfortable with the whole idea of it."
The drawbacks to life in Omaha cited by Linder include the crime, traffic, pollution, and rudeness of Omahans.
"You read such awful stuff in the papers about that place," Linder said. "Every month, it's another murder. Between the drugs and the crime and the street gangs, it's almost as bad as Wichita."
Those familiar with Linder say his anti-Omaha stance has deepened since his sister left North Platte in 1998 to take a job as human-resources director at an Omaha insurance agency.
"Don't get Fred started on Omaha," friend Ken Carlson said. "He's always resented Amy for going there. They're a lot less close now than they used to be, and Fred feels it's because she's gotten a bit of an attitude since moving to the big city, like she's superior or something."
"Let's just say the glamour of city life has changed [Amy]," Linder said. "She's definitely 'gone Omaha,' if you catch my drift."
Linder has visited the Nebraska metropolis three times in his life, most recently in 1996 for a farm-equipment show.
"I prepared plenty well before that trip, you better believe," Linder said. "I bought a money belt and travelers' checks to protect myself from all those Omaha pickpockets and con men. And I made sure I had a full tank of gas before going, because I sure as heck wasn't about to pay Omaha prices for gas."
Linder said he has no plans to visit his sister in Omaha anytime soon.
"If Amy wants to come home only for Christmas, fine," Linder said. "If that means I only see her once a year, so be it. I just can't take the noise and commotion of Omaha. It gives me a migraine just thinking about it."
"That sort of running around at all hours of the day and night might appeal to some, but I believe there's more to life than the thrill-seeking, urban scene you find in a place like Omaha," Linder said. "The bright lights and fast cars may have seduced my sister, but they'll never get me."