I live in a small town. It is a nice small town and though it has maybe a meth lab or two (doesn’t every town have at least one these days?) I think its heart is still good. I lived in a town once that lost it’s heart. It was a gradual losing, made most obvious by the addition of two cliche chain coffee establishments. I left eventually, along with many others. It became a transient kind of place and has not recovered, if a town can.
Most of the daily pursuits in this town are dedicated to the maintenance of homes, farms, and old people. Also, fishing. There are no sidewalks or streetlights. There are three churches representing the three religions; Catholic, Protestant, and Episcopalian. There’s a peace alliance that meets on Sundays and protests something on the town common and I personally know some Buddhists who meet in one of the churches for meditation once a week. No one seems to mind.
We have small town cops. I am sure you’ve heard of them. They are as you might imagine them to be, only more and less so. A couple of the police dispatch guys I particularly like and am friendly with; in a small town becoming friendly with one person or another is almost inevitable. My husband is friendly with a lot of people. He is outgoing and from the South and so more talkative in general but in an entirely comforting and pleasant way that lends itself well to living here. Except when it comes to the cops, with whom he attempts to have a dialogue.
Generally cops don’t want to make small talk. If you’re being approached by a cop (i.e. pulled over) it’s likely you did something wrong, or looked like you were about to do something wrong, or like you might know something about a wrongdoing. There might be the rare occasion, if you know the cop approaching, that he is wondering about your ailing mother or wants to inquire about your sister, on whom he always had a crush, but in general cops, I think, expect to ask questions and be answered with respect and in short sentences. I’d venture to say that cops don’t really care why you are driving around with a headlight out, even if there is a good explanation for it. Like if you hit a deer, which at certain times of year before sunrise and after sunset, is very likely, at least here, in this town.
It’s possible that if you give a small town cop some attitude when he pulls you over for having a headlight out that you will likely be pulled over again, by the same cop, even after you fix the headlight, just to make sure there are no wrongdoings you’ve neglected to report. He might even approach you when you are parked on your own lawn and question the wisdom of your decision to park on your lawn. Those things are indeed possible if you live in a small town and are almost inevitable if you’ve hit a deer and sassed the cop who pulled you over about the broken headlight.
So that’s the way things go here. It’s a small town.