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On the Side of the Road in a Small Town · 24 October 2010

Living and working in small towns has advantages and disadvantages. One of the greatest advantages is that it seems you get to know everybody. One of the greatest disadvantages is that it seems you get to know everybody.


Personally, I do not think that knowing everybody in a small town is really a disadvantage. Sure, it could be embarrassing when everybody knows about mistakes you make. Or repeats dumb things that you say. But for me, it is how I get some of my best stories even if those stories get told a hundred times along the grapevine before I get to tell them. I am sure that everybody in Duvall knew about me running out of gas last spring even before I got to work (see Running Out of Gas). Kids and colleagues asked about it before school even started. While the grapevine and people knowing what silly things I do might seem like a disadvantage, I put most of the dumb things I do into a story on the internet that the whole world can see. So it is not that much of a disadvantage that everybody in town knows everybody and all the dumb things that I do.


I like that lots of people in Carnation and Duvall, the towns that comprise our district, know me. They know that I teach and coach at the high school. And if they have had students who have had my class or had me as a coach, they know me as more than just a talking head at the high school. I love it that people tell me how and what their kids are doing after they graduate. I love it that many of those same graduates come back and visit or at least keep in touch on Facebook or online somehow. I love that everybody knows my name. Even if they do not all know how to spell it.


I also love it that in small towns people stop to make sure everything is okay when you are stopped on the side of the road. (Whether you are out of gas or not.)


As the head C-Squad football coach, I like to make sure that the players all have rides home after games. One night, I was waiting with the last player when he told me that he was supposed to meet his parents a few blocks away from the school. I told him that I would wait with him, even though we had to wait on the side of the road late at night.


I made sure that I pulled my truck off of the road even though it put me half on the sidewalk at the T in the road. Everybody who enters or leaves the high school goes past that T and lots of people were leaving from the junior football program. In the fifteen minutes or so that my player and I waited at the T, five people stopped to make sure I was okay. Three of those people knew me, one was just driving by, and the fifth was a police officer. Of course, it was nice to know that people I knew would stop to make sure I was fine. And in a small town, police officers almost always stop and check on people. But it was really nice when the first person who saw me stopped to make sure I was okay. I did not recognize him and it was great to know that good Samaritans still exist today.


I might have had a few less people stop and make sure everything was fine if I had not had my emergency flashers on, but I wanted to make sure that people knew my player and I were there. But then again, I am sure people would still have inconvenienced themselves on our behalf to ensure that we were safe even if my flashers were not on. After all, one of the men I coach with even turned around to check on us.


Being on the side of the road with emergency flashers on to make sure people did not hit my football player and me was certainly less stress filled than walking in the dark after running out of gas. But if I had to run out of gas again, I would rather do it in the small towns where I live and work and seem to know everybody. I am proud to say that the people where I spend my time take care of each other and they can laugh with each other. I am certainly glad that they take care of me. And I am glad that in return I can provide ways for them to laugh at me.

© 2010 Michael T. Miyoshi

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