Imagine yourself in a coffeehouse, book store, or some other third place. A man who appears to be in his late-twenties walks up to you and says, “Excuse me sir/ma’am, but do you have a cell phone?” Do you:

(a) Say “buzz off”

(b) Say yes, suspiciously.

(c) Say yes and ask why without suspicion.

(d) Say “go away”

(e) Say yes, grab your cell phone, and hand it to the stranger.

My answer, I must confess, would be (b). I wouldn’t lie or be so rude as to tell them to buzz off, but I guess I am just suspicious of strangers walking up and asking me something like that. It’s not necessarily a rational thing, but once I did loan my cell phone to a stranger when they proceeded to use it for twenty minutes trying to get a hold of somebody. I wasn’t in a hurry, but my plan was not to hang around where I was for twenty minutes. Then being the villain anyway for asking for my phone back before they were quite done.

I was the late-twenties guy (I’m not in my late twenties, but I look like I am) and asked that to a guy at a coffee shop in Redstone. He went with (e), though before he could actually give me the cell phone I told him what I was wanting (“Could you call my cell phone? I can’t find it.”). He called the cell and proceeded to walk around the coffee shop and help me find it.

It’s not unlike back when I was living in Deseret. Shortly before I left Colosse, my car was broken into and a few thousand dollars worth of stuff was taken from my car (it’s a long story as to why I had a few thousand dollars worth of stuff in my car). I called the Colosse PD, who couldn’t have been less interested if they had tried. I had to basically force them to take the serial number of my laptop in the event that it resurfaced at a pawn shop.

Flash forward to Deseret and I left my jacket somewhere. In my jacket was a checkbook. A couple months later, someone wrote a check to a pizza delivery place with said checkbook. I’d already canceled the account that the checkbook was cancelled to (something I had intended to do anyway, since the bank had no branches in Deseret) but the loss of my last checkbook expedited matters. Anyhow, the pizza delivery place sicked the credit collection dogs on me. In order to get out of it, I had to file an affidavit.

I apologized to the detective for taking up his time. But his response couldn’t have been more different from the Colosse PD’s. He got a subpoena for the cameras for the day in question. They didn’t have that, so he interviewed employees there. He gave me updates every two or three days. I didn’t stop him because I was interested in retrieving the jacket if it was at all possible. After about a week, he apologetically said that he had burned all leads.

Of course, we can ask “What else would a detective in small-town Deseret actually do with his time?” No doubt, there is some truth to this. But I became acquainted with the Detective over time because he lead a handful of drug arrests at the apartment complex I was living at. He was not an unimportant guy. Flash forward a little later after my car had been broken into and the culprit arrested, a DA visited me personally to ask if the plea bargain they had worked out was okay with me or if they should pursue it to the maximum extent of the law (I told her the plea bargain was fine).

Category: Courthouse, Downtown

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5 Responses to The Small Town Advantage

  1. Samson J. says:

    I’m curious about the way the small-town dynamic affects your wife. When I was younger and greener, I didn’t realize that society places certain expectations on doctors’ behaviour, even outside the workplace. In my experience small-town docs live in a fishbowl – at least if they live in the same town where they work. Does that bother your wife at all?

  2. trumwill says:

    It’s something frequently talked about in rural med circles. In fact, it’s one of the things they tell doctors about before they sign on. “If you’re the type to be bothered by having seen half of the people at the supermarket naked, don’t come here.”

    As it stands, people have reported my smoking to my wife and a couple people have reported the dog sitting on the top of the sofa.

    If Clancy minds, she doesn’t seem to show it.

  3. Kirk says:

    What if you don’t have a cell phone?

  4. trumwill says:

    (f) Say “no,” relieved that you do not have a cell phone and therefore can immediately terminate this conversation.

    (g) Say “no,” wishing that you could help.

    (h) Say “no,” but start asking around to see who else might have one.

  5. LS says:

    If this happened on the street, (b) would be appropriate, but since this takes place in a coffeehouse (which must have a landline), I would rightfully be suspicious and answer. (a).

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