I am not talking about what do they do for fun or entertainment. This is not a “oh my god life here is so boring, I don’t know what people do here”. This is more of an enquiry into the economies of small towns. Mainly in the US.
I guess one hint for me should be the difference between the US and Iran. I grow up in Iran and like I do here, I enjoyed lots of road trips there too. When in Iran I never had the question of what do people do here. I guess because I had a better understanding of the options people had there I could imagine their possible lives and put together a plausible story for myself. Like most people here in this small town are small time farmers who grow fruits and vegetable and sell them in the market in the large city nearby. Also they often have a few farm animals which mostly cover their family’s needs.
But here in the US, I don’t get to see and understand the lives of people outside large metropolitan areas. That must be why if I don’t see some factories or plants or large commercial buildings or military bases or ports and such I often ask what do people do here.
I guess it most often boils dow to farming. But I don’t “see” it because I don’t know what it looks like to be a farmer here.