By Teresa Michaud
What is it like to live in a small town? It takes nearly two hours to go to the store for only one item, even when you are in a hurry, because you have to stop and talk to everybody in town. I drive a school bus. This afternoon, before the students came out of the school, I was speaking with a coworker, Judi, who parks her bus in front of me. Judi showed me an envelope addressed to her. Since she had recently moved, the envelope did not have her correct mailing address on it. Judi is good friends with Lecha and they go for their walks together every morning. Apparently, the mail courier knew this so he put Judi’s envelope in Lecha’s mailbox. He knew that Lecha would make sure that Judi received it.
In a small town, everybody knows everybody and, of course, everybody knows everybody’s business. I believe that things take place in small towns that would not take place anywhere else. If one happened to go into a store and forget to turn off the car lights, some Good Samaritan will walk over, open the door and turn them off. No one locks his or her doors here. They will install security lights on both the house and the garage and go and leave both unlocked. No one living in cities would ever experience this.
In our small town, people are mellow; no one ever toots their horns in anger at the car in front of them even at a green light. Road Rage and obscene gestures are unheard of. Everyone will give you a chance to back out of a parking spot. If they do not give you a chance then they are not from here. Last night while hauling a load of students, I was following a pickup truck in town on a main road; of course, I knew the man driving the pick up truck and he knew me as well. We met another who immediately braked and put his truck in reverse. I happened to know him too. The person that I was following stopped and backed up until the two trucks were window to window. A brief conversation then took place while the line of cars grew going both ways. Both men smiled in agreement and then continued on their respective ways. So who needs a cell phone?
I have a cousin who used to work for the phone company in Saint John. When I would happen to call information for a phone number, I would often get Venette. At the time, my teenaged children were amazed that I knew the telephone operator. I was speaking to Venette at a wedding not too long ago and she told me a little story. One day at work, she received a call from a man in Saskatchewan. The man was asking for Victor Smith (not his real name) in the city of Fredericton. Victor just happened to be Venette’s father, my uncle. She was able to tell that man that Victor just moved to Moncton the day before and gave him a number where Victor was staying for a few days while he was moving in to his new home. The man was surely thinking that people living in the Maritimes really do know everybody.
When my children were very young they wanted to write a letter to Santa. The new Santa address just came out “Santa Clause North Pole H0H 0H0”. My eldest son Marc was four-years-old. He went to play school one morning a week. That morning, he heard that some of his classmates wrote to Santa and received an answer from him. He and Lessa, his three-year-old sister, wanted to get a letter from Santa too even though it was the eve of Christmas Eve. I explained to Marc and Lessa that Santa will not have time to write back since it was so close to Christmas. They would not hear of it. It was Santa and he would write back! Marc, Lessa and I sat down together and wrote a letter to Santa. I put the letter in an envelope and we all went together to the mailbox at the end of the driveway. The kids put the letter in the box and raised the little metal flag. We were early enough to catch the mail carrier who went by a few minutes later.
The following day was Christmas Eve. The children saw the mail carrier and immediately put on their coats and boots to go and get the mail. Sure enough, Marc was right. There was a letter addressed to Marc and Lessa from Santa Claus. They excitedly ripped the letter open and gave it to me to read aloud to them. I read the letter aloud until I got to “Love Santa”. There was a postscript under his signature. I sure laughed as I read, “P.S. Please tell mommy to include a return address next time she writes to Santa. Santa’s helpers had to really scramble to make sure they got the letter to the right house.” Gott’a love that Good Ole, Small-town Santa!