Friday, September 23, 2011

It's a Small World

I grew up in the suburbs. The town was small enough for me and my friend Betty to ride our bikes past all the houses of Belair Junior High’s most interesting boys, but big enough that we could profess ignorance about the geography if we had been spotted. (You live here? Oh, we were just riding around and…got lost.)

Here on St. Elsewhere, with only about 3,000 people on an island that runs about 8 miles from head to toe, and 3 miles from side to side, there’s no hiding. One upside of island living is never losing your keys, because you just leave them in the car; the island’s dozen roads would make for the world’s shortest police chase.

And that’s the downside, too: You’re going to get caught. No matter what indiscretion you’ve perpetrated, someone has seen you do it, and they will tell.

Sonja from across the street has only been here a couple of weeks, so she’s still getting used to maneuvering the maze of one-way streets in the historic town center, where low stone walls regularly take their pound of paint from careless drivers and SUVs.  Her first rental car incident was minor – she backed when she should have forwarded. She inspected the car, saw there was no damage, decided not to report it, and went on her way.  A few days later, the stone walls took their toll on her bumper, so, like a responsible driver, she called Mrs. White – aka the rental car company – to ‘fess up about scrape.

Mrs. White appreciated the information, but asked her why she hadn’t called to report the first incident, too.

In St. Elsewhere, you can run, but you can’t hide.

No comments: