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Posted: April 27, 2013 5:49 p.m.

Covington: A city with a smile

As we all know, online maps can be deceiving.

In fact, the map I consulted before I drove down to Covington from my home near Greenville, S.C., to interview for the position of editor of this newspaper, bore absolutely no resemblance to the route I finally took.

Well, it did instruct me to take I-85 to Winder, but I already knew that. It was when I got to Winder that things got a little interesting.

I have since learned, of course, that from Winder, it’s a "straight shot’’ to Covington as long as you stay on Ga. Highway 81. The problem is that while Ga. Highway 81 is a "straight shot,’’ it’s not a straight road.

There are some twists and a very critical turn by a Kroger to consider.

There are plenty of other routes to get here, too. And along all along these routes live and work people who are genuinely friendly and more than willing to offer help to a semi-confused woman who has, at last, learned to swallow her pride and ask for directions.

So, I don’t have the greatest sense of direction, geographically speaking.

But my internal compass, of which faith in God is the key component, is quite another matter.

I trust it completely, even when it points me in an entirely new direction. It has brought me to Covington, and I’m glad it did.

Even before I actually moved, I was reaching out to total strangers for help, which they were cheerfully giving, as I found a place to live, took care of all the utilities, insurance, etc., packed up my big ol’ banged-up SUV and headed south.

I’ve been living in Covington for exactly 10 days today. On my first day here, I headed out to pick up a TV set I had ordered online, which required by-phone instructions from a bemused and cheerful sales associate, who not only got me to my destination, but then helped me get the aforementioned TV into my cart.

I am living in the Turner Lake/Brown Bridge Road area, which I love because it is both a) a wooded and scenic area that gives me a little of a "country" vibe; and b) very close to downtown, to work, to shopping, to the bank, to the interstate. How convenient!

It is obvious to me that to people in Covington and Newton County, being neighborly is as natural as breathing.

There was the proprietor of the computer store who helped me when I rushed in to get a new power cord for my desktop. (I had managed to leave that critical item behind).

He just handed me a cord and said, "Welcome to Covington, no charge.’’

There was a woman in the grocery store who saw the big pot of impatiens I had crammed into my cart and said, "Honey, be careful, you don’t want to break that pretty plant.’’

She then offered some advice on how to care for my new purchase in the still-chilly-in-the-mornings April weather.

There was my upstairs neighbor, who knocked on my door one recent day and handed me my keys, which I had left in the door.

"You might want these,’’ he said.

I could go on and on. I kid you not, Covington even has the most friendly fast-food drive-thrus I ever have experienced.

Along with your order, you always, always get a smile.

Jan Phillips is the editor of The Covington News. She can be reached at jphillips@covnews.com.

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