The small town gets a bad rap. Sure everyone knows everyone. Or thinks they know everyone else’s business. There’s not much to do, so it leaves kids to think up their own adventure, which often spells trouble. And the gossip that goes on is legendary. But there is one story that I go back to every time I try to explain just how small our town was. And it has nothing to do with the downside of it.
The year was 1998, I was 17, I had my driver’s license and my grandmother had just given up her 1982 Plymouth Reliant. This car was pristine. And perfect for our family, since I had my license and my sister was right on my heels just raring to get hers.
My father had also discovered that my being able to drive saved him a lot of time and energy, so I often found myself running into town to pick my sister up from her shift at Tim Horton’s.
Frankly, in my entire driving history, I’ve never turned down a reason to go for a “tour”. Even while on maternity leave with each of the boys and in need of a change of sceney, I would pack them up (however many of them there were) and go to the furthest out Tim Horton’s drive thru our schedule would allow for to get a tea for myself and a Timbit or two for them. Driving and Tim Horton’s, saviors of my maternity leave exhausted brain.
Tim Horton’s has long been an anchor point for me. If I could get myself there and get a tea, there was nothing too wrong with the world.
Before we go thinking this is an ode to my most favorite of coffee sources, back to the story.
On the day of this particular incident, some 20 years ago (Oh my god, this was twenty years ago! Crap, I’m getting old), I either misjudged the time I needed to get there or I got wrapped up in a book or something and was running late.
I hate running late almost as much as I like going for a drive. My sister was working in the next town over. Now on a regular day, the drive takes between 15 and 20 minutes. Closer to 20 because there’s a few sections that have a slower speed limit.
This day, I was aiming for closer to 15 minutes. And even then I would be five minutes late. My sister, bless her heart, would never let me hear the end of it. She had a busy social life at that time and little patience for her bookworm of a sister. She’s since learned (I think) that my quirks are endearing. Or she tolerates them better. Either way, I’m thankful.
Having spent my entire life there, I know those roads like the back of my hand (still do, matter of fact) so I cranked the radio up and cruised the road that leads to the small town nearby. There is one section that is still technically in town, and is therefore a 50km/hour zone. And I promise you I was doing far more than that when I went flying by the one and only gas station in town. The music was good, the weather was lovely, and I was a teenager in a car.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
My father, in my absence, took our old farm truck in to town to fill it up with gas and grab a bite to eat. It was there that the owner mentioned seeing a 1982 Plymouth Reliant go flying by his establishment.
Oops. Forgot to consider the witnesses. In a small town like that, and much like the space that my children are growing up, it is less six degrees of separation and more like two or three.
My sister and I get home not an hour later where my dad lies in wait to greet us.
“In a bit of a hurry, were you?”
Being a teenager I didn’t see the trap as it was being laid, and so I decide that playing stupid is the way to go. “What do you mean, dad?” I ask, the picture of innocence.
For those of you in the back that haven’t realized this yet, playing stupid is never the way to go.
“I heard that you went flying by the gas station driving it like you stole it”
Busted. Just busted.
Now lucky for me, my dad had a long history and more colorful stories of his teen years and I had been privy to a great deal of them thanks to his best friend who I was fortunate enough to call uncle growing up. He also has a decent sense of humour, necessary when one is raising two teenage daughters. So that was the extent of the punishment. But I was warned that any speeding tickets I incurred would be paid out of my pocket, not his.
Natural consequences for the win, folks. And growing up in a small town meant that my dad could give us enough freedom to incur these natural consequences because if he didn’t have eyes on us, someone who knew him did. So we all survived the teenage years. And I sought out a small town where my children can grow up and say the same of their adventures.
See you at the rink,