At the time of this writing, I’ve been on the road for three and a half weeks and gradually becoming accustomed to the ways of the urban nomad, foraging at fast food joints and finally understanding why McD’s has sold billions upon billions of patties. I’ve been achieving the zen of laundromatting, the place where even presidents of airlines have to come at least once a week. I’ve been feeling the pavement crack under my heat-blistered feet.
The road, when used to escape the price gouging of the Far North and single mindedness of one-horse towns, becomes both friend and foe. Statistically speaking, far more accidents occur on dry land than in the air. That’s because far more people prefer to drive or have no choice but to hit the road for trips longer than the trek to the grocery store.
The road leads to more roads, however, and the choice of where you want to go becomes nearly limitless. Passing through various towns, I see the physical difference in each area. Conversely, the physical similarities of each face I encounter seems to diminish when the population is less than a few thousand souls. Perhaps marrying outside the county is harder when the family vehicle is a Harvester International.
Ah, the country life, tending to cows and corn… Slowly, the tree-dotted farmland gives way to a skyline of a four-story building, looming out of the smoke of some manufacturing plant that relies on constant feeding of billions of trees. Entering prototypical Smallville, downtown appears nearly instantly and we’re catapulted into some Harlem of the north. Loud music and scantily clad ladies of the night appear regularly, making my daughter ask me why everyone dresses like Bratx or some new fad doll.
Sadly, I being more knowledgeable of hipwaders than haute couture, explained that just like dollmakers everywhere, they have to make money, too. The clothing represents their work and I left it like that.
Taking a cab, the driver tells me how much he appreciates our business when we come to town. We are not cheap fares and tip generously, he says, not like some small town hicks he knows. Sometimes, it pays not to have things taken for granted, he adds, that many other small towns should benefit from our insane need to shop ’til we drop at every mall we come across.
Passing small towns takes practice. The quick 15-second tour then wilderness again, dealing only with wandering potential road kill. Speaking of road kill, the porcupine is a favourite snack and makes for endless fun shaking down the critters from their tree tops. Many a Cree delight in the brief break from suburbia for a good old bloodletting session before heading out for further adventures.
One sad factor I see in small towns is that the number of good folks relying on asking for favours to get by, often on the hourly basis, is increasing. Small crime scenes are becoming more and more often dangerous for those who are innocent and naive. Children are now becoming targets for those wanting to take advantage of selling stolen goods or even abduction.
Smallville disappears when we leave to head off to our final destination, some theme park where everything is escapism. More often than not, escaping from reality costs a lot more than reality itself. But, not thinking of anything other than having fun becomes addictive and it’s hard to shake off the good times when returning to work after the vacation is over.
Today, after 6,000 kilometres recorded on my debit card, I think back to the time when a vacation or road trip meant going fishing or camping. I know that those days can still be there, but hey, that’s the life we live: fishing, hunting and trapping. So a trip into Smallville could take the edge out of living the weekend paradise at some secret fish hole.