A comforting thing about travel is finding the similarities among the obvious differences. The other day we were eating breakfast at a small town coffee shop in England called Friar Tucks. It reminded me of the White Lantern, the diner/hangout in the small Illinois town where I grew up -- not in looks so much as in feel. I noticed that several times the folks sitting in the booths would wave hello to the folks walking past outside. At one point an older woman waved to a man about my age, he waved back, and then she waved him inside to sit with her and her husband. I imagined he was their son.
Another, even older woman from the booth next over says to the guy coming in, "Do you always wear a helmet when you cycle, Casey?"
"Yeah," he said, to which she responded, "Then it couldn't have been you I passed on the road this morning."
Casey was silent.
I'm not sure if Casey lied about wearing his helmut or if it was some other, less safe, forty-something-cyclist, but you can be damn sure he's going to have his helmut on tomorrow. If he doesn't somebody will mention it over breakfast at Friar Tucks.
Small towns are like this. Everyone knows everyone else, and knows what they're doing. The news of my transgressions as a kid usually made it home from school before I did. You can call it being nosey or you can say it's taking an interest in each others lives. I'm sure it's some of both. I sure hope Casey wears his helmet tomorrow... and uses the crosswalk... and leaves the pub at a reasonable hour. Otherwise he's gonna hear about it at Friar Tucks.