Really, there are some very nice things about living in a small town. Even if that small town is wrapped by a rather large monster called Fort Lauderdale, our little enclave of 12,800 or so good people and a few stinkers can be a nice place to be.
When I moved here, I was looking forward to being in a place you could wrap your mind around. Not Too Big And Not Too Small. Having lived in Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, happily, I started to see that sort of community, but it was diluted by being in the city limits of Philly.
I now know that if I leave the house, I have to double the time that some of you folks out in the Suburbs would take to walk to the corner – if you ever left your car behind.
South Florida is famous for being a place that a car is required. You have to drive everywhere, and since they’re trying to convince people to take the buses, it’s only going to get worse. You can widen the roads to add a bus lane, but without adding a bus lane you will make certain that there will be people out there who will make it a point to vote against the politicians in charge of that decision wherever possible.
County of Broward is a good case in point. The county government infrastructure exists, but I am hard pressed to see any point to it or any good at all done by them. Most Florida counties, I would wager, are the same.
However I’m lucky. I’m in the enclave of Wilton Manors. You see, I don’t need a car. I can walk within a half mile to anything that I would require, and add more distance up to a mile and I’m pretty well suited.
So I walk.
It works out that I have a herding breed dog, a Mc Nab Dog, that requires exercise. Generally as a result I’m walking two miles a day, some days as much as 5.
Now, my own walking pace with the dog is about 3 miles in an hour. One of those three dog walks should take about 20 minutes. Bags in hand, looking for a safe place to dispose of them.
But it doesn’t happen that way.
Over the weekend we were notified by The City that there was a ceremony at the Fire Station. Apparently every decade or so they have a celebration, and talk about what the building means and what it does for the community.
Great. Lets go. We made a mental note of it and decided to go. After all, being even slightly interested in the goings on in a Small Town, you get to know The City.
Yes, in capital letters.
In our case, we know practically everyone in The City government of Wilton Manors by at least face, and know the management structure by name. It’s not a brag, it’s a part of living here. They’re good people and certainly worth getting to know as they do their jobs and get things done.
I’ve been waved at by most of them, even had one of the Police higher ups (no, I won’t say who) stop traffic, set off the sirens and horns and lights, just to say hi.
Like I said, one of the perks.
That’s when my own bad timing got in the way. You see, I have to plan that when I go anywhere, that 20 minute mile with the dog is always doubled. I allow an extra 20 minutes minimum to say hello to this shop keeper or that barback, or the guy who makes the excellent ice cream on the shop over in the lofts just a short way on the other side of the Drive.
It is definitely like the movie Roxanne’s first scene. Steve Martin walking to his fire house as the fire chief saying hello to people, sticking his rather large nose into shops, and I think he even saved a cat.
Fun movie, well worth the watch, it’s a retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac’s tale set in a rather beautiful Oregon seaside town.
I’m not a fire chief, but that is pretty similar to my own experience here.
You see I missed the dedication of the Fire Station. I think I blitzed. I didn’t put Two and Two together.
You can’t say I wasn’t warned.
I was walking East on Wilton Drive, trying to get home with the dog pulling me towards things. He thought he was going to visit with the owner of the art gallery, get attention, get cookies, and get on with things.
I was in a rush when I heard it. A Chorus of City Management.
I heard my name called out over the five lanes of traffic. “BILL!!! THAT’S HIM! BILL!!!”
I’m thinking who on earth could that be.
Then in the twilight I saw them. It was a cluster of about 10 to 15 of the people who I consider my own friends, the majority of the City Mangement structure of our town. Calling out my name. Really quite nice to have that kind of a greeting.
I looked over at them and waved. Rack got spooked by the fire truck and pulled me off my balance. I even heard a chuckle from across the street.
But I didn’t figure it all out. Even though I was invited, I didn’t think that this was the night of the ceremony. I thought it was some sort of night out and the truck was going off to fight a fire. After all, it was the cooking hour and this was the time where most kitchen fires start – 6 to 7 pm.
I’m getting pulled away, waving at the folks across five lanes of too fast traffic and walking toward the house. Eventually I get pulled into the house and close the door smiling at the situation.
I was still a bit clueless until I spoke with Kevin about the details. He reminded me that “We had that ceremony to go to but I was late in a meeting and you didn’t realize what was going on”.
I was disappointed that I missed the little ceremony at our fire station, after all, these were the people who I know the best here in town, those who I am most comfortable with.
We get notifications about every other month. The city holds get-togethers for things like this. Holiday celebrations, re-dedications, breakfasts for the Veterans, and the like. I get the notices, and really do have to make it a point to go to the next one.
After all, why not spend time with those who you know. Even if it will take me 20 minutes to walk the half mile to city hall, it’s well worth it.
Even if my nose isn’t huge like Cyrano’s.