City Mouse Culture Shock.

I was born and raised in a big city.  Though Mesa is certainly no NYC [Scottsdale comes close], there are people galore, immigrants of all ethnicities, and a multitude of shopping malls.  With the dense population (approximately 460,155 [that’s not counting the many cities abutting my own, which, combined, make up “The Greater Phoenix Area,” otherwise known as”The Valley of the Sun.”  If I were to include all those, the number would be more like 4,579,427 {numbers according to Wikipedia–what else?}]), another factor my city (and surrounding area) can boast is a fantastic network of freeways.  The infrastructure is a grid-like web of wide rows, shredded tennis-ball street tops, and seven–sometimes eight–lanes each way…

I learned to drive on these freeways.  I thrive to drive on these streets.

Image from here.

Enter Canada.  Canada, the country whose entire population (estimated 33,440,007) rivals that of…the State of California (36,457,549).

A typical freeway near my house would not be called a freeway at all, but a highway, and could look something like this:

Image from here.

Rural Alberta (which is redundant, really, because there are only two areas of Alberta which are not rural), bless its heart, just doesn’t produce the sort of cutthroat, in-your-face, outta-my-way sort of drivers I’m used to going up against.  Instead, it produces…dare I say…


I dared.  {Let’s do keep in mind this is excluding all the farm kids who grew up racing through fields in the old pickup to get to the next cattle birthing faster ‘n a shotgun could kill a sleeping grizzly.  Those guys are crazy; the drivers I’m talking about are the average rural Albertan mom and dad, teenager, or grandpa.}

It is perfectly safe to say that nine times out of ten, when I leave my house, I get stuck behind a driver who considers it prudent to drive 10 kilometres below the speed limit–and that’s not even after a snow fall!

In Mesa, when there’s an idiot on the road (idiot=any person who does not exceed the speed limit by at least five miles per hour {preferably 10}), a typical reaction from a normal driver would be to wait for a gap, swerve to pass on the left (inasmuch as there are always two lanes {even if we have to make our own}), and give the numskull a vicious glare as he or she speeds on past, wasting a gallon of well-spent fuel accelerating to make up for time lost behind the fool.  A driver feeling particularly aggressive might take the opportunity to use the horn, though horn beeps in Phoenix are not nearly as prevalent as back east, I’m told.

In Mayberry, however (population equal to that of my sophomore class in high school {grade 10, Canadians}), I pull the same sort of stunt, passing some errant fool driving 20 kilometres in a 50 kilometre zone, and turn to glare seethingly at the idiot I’ve passed…

…and it turns out to be my sweet, gracious neighbor from across the street who’s invited us to dinner on Sunday.  Or the bishop of my church congregation.  Or my father-in-law.

And he’s not really someone I want to cross.

And that’s just embarrassing. I think my real vexation with this place is less about the pokey drivers, and more about the lack of anonymity. I can’t flip people off in this town, because they all know who I am, even if I’ve never seen ’em before.  I can’t tailgate someone who’s driving like a granny, because there’s a very real chance that it is someone’s granny, and word will get out.

I can’t buy lingerie (even if I wanted to {which I don’t}) at the closest mall, because the salesgirl there used to date Poor Kyle, and then she’ll know my measurements and go home and brag to all her friends that she’s eight sizes smaller than me.

Who knows?  Maybe the real problem is all the cookies I’ve been eating.

But I’m blaming it on the drivers.

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
This entry was posted in Canada, fiascos, It's All Good, oh brother what next, on the road again, woe is me. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to City Mouse Culture Shock.

  1. afton says:

    there are few things i love more than arizona freeways. one of my most favorite things to do on weeknights is to drive the newly connected loop 202 (red mountain) with all of the windows down and the radio blaring (praying that journey’s faithfully will come on at some point). it always makes for a good night.

  2. Lindsay says:

    oh this was such a good post…it made my day!

    and dont worry camille, i most certainly am still unemployed. It was an orientation to be “considered” as an employee, and after the 8 wretched hours, i decided i hate life and will not work for those people for a measly $9 an hour to take care of handicapped children.
    So, 3 cheers to the stay at home wives club!

  3. Jami says:

    I agree…good post! You know how I feel about sexy things…
    But I know how you feel about buying that kind of stuf when people you know are there. One time I was trying to buy “something” at target, and I saw someone I know…it was terrible, and I was imbarassed!
    AND I hate slow drivers…the sad thing is that my husband happens to be one of them. EVEN WORSE, my father in law is the WORST slow driver. One time I had him drive with me, and I thought he was going to die. Seriously, he was sweating by the end.

  4. (relatively) safe in Edmonton says:

    If you need a fix of a freaky huge net of freeways where everybody drives AT LEAST 20km/h over limit, take your life in your hands and drive in Calgary. (just teasing, Cgy people). If you really want a scare, drive Deerfoot trail at rush hour. I’ve seen one of PK’s uncles drive home to deep south Cgy at about 130 km/h…and barely pass anyone. Granny in Magrath can attest to the pace of things in dear old Cowtown.

    YEAH FLAMES!! Awesome win!

  5. HeatherPride says:

    Of course it’s the drivers!! And I know we’ve said this to each other before, but it’s just so weird that we traded places in life! You know I was brought up in a town that is smaller than tiny so I completely relate and feel your pain!! You are so right, you can never be anything but polite and upstanding because the second you aren’t, the whole town will know!

  6. DeAnna says:

    So true! I swear they think they are doing some kind of favor by driving that slow. One of my best friends in highschool thought the speed limit in Mayberry was 30 km/hr until one of the first times I drove with her and informed her that is only for the two blocks that count as main street. My dad is one of those drivers you may feel like flipping off on your drives around mayberry or to the city, he drives 10 under the speed limit due to some notion of better gas mileage.

    Every small town/city seems to have their “idiots”. Ours don’t just drive slow, they drive stupid. Example, If someone is parked on the side of the road, any road, the “idiot” will drive into the other lane to go “around” the car, where it is plain to see that no one is in the vehicle or getting into the vehicle. Argh! it drives me crazy, so definately its the drivers and the cookies are just a great coping mechanism.

  7. Camille says:

    Afton– Oh, that sounds like fun. I really get a kick out of a good cruise on an AZ freeway.

    Linday– I’m so glad we’re still in it together!! I felt so miserable and alone when I thought you were re-employed.

    Jami– I have a hard time even buying “female products.” I have to buy them all at once–a whole year’s supply–so I can have another year to work up the courage to do it. I’m so pathetic.

    (Relatively) Safe in Edmonton– I think the reason I enjoy AZ freeways so much is because it’s easy to stop and go, speed a lot but still be able to stop in time if necessary. In calgary (at least in the winter), the icy roads would surely freak me out. Plus I get lost every time I’m there. Neither of those things are fun. But if I’m ever desperate, I’ll take your advice and go for it.

    HeatherPride– Oh, you know my pain! I’m right, right? I’m the sane one–everyone else is crazy.

    DeAnna– I’m sorry that I would probably hate your dad if I was ever driving behind him. I don’t know him, but I’m sure he’s nice… At any rate, I’m so glad you agree with me. I was worried I’d make people mad.

  8. Allison says:

    Oh gosh, I don’t miss those small town days. I am sure there are more people in my apartment complex then in the whole town where I grew up. That little town sure was interesting. I had a fender bender there once and I swear the whole town knew before my car came to a rest. Sheesh. But, I must admit there are benefits to a small town life. Such as the entire town showing up and raising $13,000 for my father’s medical bills. That would never happen in a city…

  9. A plate actually works really well. You should try it. I like it a lot more than using a bowl. I think the gluten forms better.

    I am sorry you are not with your family. That is too bad.

    Little siblings are the greatest. You get to pester them and brainwash them. It is well worth the annoyance of always having them ask you if you will play with them.

  10. Camille says:

    Allison– You’re right. Small town people do seem awfully kind and generous compared to their over-populated counterparts. Happy Thanksgiving!!

    Emily Merkley– I don’t know if I’ll ever be convinced unless I try it. All that nonsense about gluten sounds like you just made stuff up.

  11. Anonymous says:


    Sorry about having to drive slowly. I guess I would fit in there, though, because I’m always driving slowly in the black truck, as you have commented in the past. Try not to flip off your father-in-law, at least. That might cause some problems!

  12. Whitney says:

    I have a serious problem. I may have road rage… Okay I do. Not the type where I would pull out a gun and shoot the idiot driving in front or around me but the kind where ” colorful” words might come out and tell them how much I truly love them. See, Zach has the same problem. I just laugh when he is driving and he does the same when Im driving. As hard as I try, it wont go away. Hopefully my babys first words arent,” you are an idiot, I hate your guts, or get out of the way you stupid old man!” Those are just a few examples. Not as colorful as they are in real life mind you.

  13. RatalieNose says:

    Just remember this Camille: It’s your world, we’re all just livin in it.

  14. Lindsay says:

    oh camille! i absolutely love these collage things that i kept seeing on other people’s blogs! so i took it upon myself to figure out how they did it…yeah, it seriously took me like 2 weeks. But they are so fun! First you need to download Picasa tho. It’s free on the internet, and it’s actually a pretty good program. There is a little ‘collage’ feature in with the editing tabs, and you just select which pictures you want and drag them over into the collage area. You can pick how you want them to be arranged and everything. The most confusing part is that it selects all the pictures you have in the open folder right off, so you have to go in and highlight them, remove them, and then you’ll have a clear collage template to work on. Yeah, i didnt really explain that very well, but seeing as how we are both unemployed, just call me and i’ll walk you thru it!

  15. anonymous says:

    haha i always get so frustrated with slow drivers i’m sorry! what happened to all the anonymous people that used to comment? i’m like the first one on this post! come on, you guys! what ever happened to anonymous power?

  16. raygon says:

    The tears are streaming down my face. I only got thru the first half of this post. the part about home and the people and the freeway. I got so homesick, I couldnt even finish reading. Something about drivers, and your father in law, and eating too many cookies.
    I miss Arizona.

  17. niki says:

    oh i can’t even imagine the road rage you must have pent up. how miserable it must be not to be able to release some of it. next time you’re behind a slow driver, go ahead and send me a text with as many cuss words as you can muster up and i will reply with a pic text of the bird ;)

  18. anon10 says:

    Let me just tell you that I totally agree! I hate slow drivers and I hate when they get in my way. What especially annoys me is when they think where they are going is more important than were I am going. Hmph.

  19. firstanon says:

    I enjoy every comment of anon10. Phmph.

  20. firstanon says:

    I know. Obtuse.

    I LOVE anon10.

    Not many of us left.

  21. Cristin says:

    I hate the anonymity of small towns. Sometimes I want to be rude at the grocery store but a) I will see the same checkers again and b) someone I know is probably in the store watching me and that would be bad.

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