It’s been a busy but mostly quiet couple of weeks in Pigspittle. There was a fire at the hunting and fishing shop in town. It is located catty-corner to the fire station but I heard on the news that the fire was well underway before the trucks arrived. I haven’t been in town (which, incidentally, is just 1.5 miles away) so I haven’t seen the remains.
We’ve had a rash of credit card thefts that the FBI suspects involves hackers getting into a popular restaurant’s computer. It’s the water-cooler discussion of the week at work. My next-door office neighbor has a stack of the sheriff’s official theft report forms on her desk. Her life has become a form-filling nightmare.
Another colleague hit a deer on her way home from work last week. She said she was only going 35. It was snowing and as she crested the hill, she saw a car in opposing traffic blinking its lights off and on. But then a small herd was in the middle of the highway and she couldn’t get out of the way. She said the deer “plunked” on her hood and then darted off. The man in the other car stopped, partly to offer to help but mostly to say, “I flashed my lights to warn you!”
I’ve learned that there are three reasons for drivers to flash their lights in Pigspittle, day or night: police ahead, deer ahead, or Amish buggy ahead. The latter happened to me recently on my way to work. It was an especially foggy morning and I’m grateful to the driver who approached cautiously, well below the speed limit, flashing her lights at me. I thought she was telling me that police were ahead. They sometimes stake out that particular road with its tempting hills and dips that make the speed limit virtually impossible to follow. But it was an Amish family, most likely returning home from a trip to Kroger.
Pigspittle drivers are, for the most part, courteous. They don’t hesitate to stop if you’re having car trouble. (I’ve had two occasions to observe this, and was helped both times by burly men with missing teeth.) Even more foreign to me is the custom of pulling off to the side of the road during a funeral procession. I was taught in drivers ed years ago that you’re supposed to do this, but no one in the city ever did. In Pigspittle, it is offensive to do anything but stay put, pay your respects to the dead stranger in the Hearse and the family of sedans, mini-vans, and trucks lumbering slowly behind with flags on their hoods, and once they’ve all passed, proceed and say under your breath, “There but for the grace of God go I.” (Incidentally, if you’re looking to buy a Hearse, this is the site.)
The drive from my home to my office is five miles of mixed-purpose real estate–part suburban streets, part rolling highway–and nearly every day there is new roadkill on the berm, usually deer or raccoon. One time I saw a dead turkey. My friend JP has a keen eye for roadkill. When we worked together, he’d ask, “Did you see that skunk on the way in?” One day I saw a raccoon walking on its hind legs, staggering drunk-like, in the middle of an intersection. Everyone drove slowly around him, including me, I’m ashamed to say–although in my defense, I did sit there for a minute trying to think how I could help.
The only bad experience I’ve had driving around Pigspittle was after the 2004 election. My car was festooned with Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers and other signs of liberalness. A guy drove past me and stuck four fingers out of his window, mouthing, “Four more years!” as if to say, “Fuck you and your fucking left-wing car!”
I’ve not hit a deer yet, though I did have a doe come so close that I heard her snort. And although I’ve had bad luck with pebbles hitting my windshield, I’ve not been in an accident. I did get my very first speeding ticket, but it was outside a town whose name in Italian means “stinking place,” not our beloved Pigspittle.
When we bought our Scion, I was convinced that we would be the object of ridicule from someone in a hemi, or worse, a Hummer (Pigspittle has more than its per-capita share). But Pigspittlians embraced our little black toaster of a car just as they sidled up to the sushi bar at Kroger. There is plenty of room for a Scion and a horse and buggy in the parking lot. Ah, Pigspittle.