Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 06.05.06
Stanstead, Quebec


The yahoos aren't that funny anymore

I was thinking recently that there are few moments of small-town life more satisfying than seeing one of the local tire-squealing, peace-disturbing, life-risking, high-speed yahoos pulled over by the cops.

This is because normally you're powerless against adolescents in ball caps and their old-enough-to-know-better elders whose sole purpose in life is to wear down tire treads and frighten pedestrians.

You can call the cops but short of providing videotaped evidence and witness testimony, there's little that will compel the police to do anything more strenuous than shrug their shoulders. The only other options are glaring, fist-shaking. and confrontation. The latter is not advised, as the following scenario explains:

"Hey, this isn't Nascar, you know. People live here. You're going too fast and someone's going to get hurt."

"Oh yeah? Whatcha gonna do about it?"

"I'm going to… [think of nothing but Wile E. Coyote-type oil slicks, thumb tacks and giant rubber bands] I'll… Well, you just better!"

This confrontation not only will prove ineffective but also will result in tire tracks across your lawn. That's the other thing about small towns: they know where you live.

So the only option is to shake your head and make that "tsk" sound, which, when you're my age, is one stop short of starting to use words like "whippersnapper."

I can't claim complete innocence. I, too, was once a small-town idiot in a car. My buddies and I would cruise around on Friday nights, occasionally hurling day-old doughnuts at passing friends. (It seemed like fun at the time.)

One evening I drove onto a frozen football field and did 360s across the ice. Yeeeeee-ha! After this stupidness, I got back on the street where I immediately took an icy corner too quickly and slammed into a snow bank, cracking the front axle.

That was when the cops showed up.

They had watched me on the field doing doughnuts (as opposed to throwing them) and had seen me tackle the snow bank. They let me off with a warning, probably because they could see on my face that explaining this to Dad would be worse than any fine.

My point is that, except for the possibility of blinding someone with chocolate glaze, my friends and I didn't habitually put people's lives in jeopardy. We were idiots, yes, but our cars weren't compensation for our anatomical shortcomings, if you know what I mean.

So I was thinking all this recently when I noticed some strange things happening. Last week here in town, a car squealed out of a gas station, lost control, and flipped at the autoroute exit. A few days later the driver of a speeding car drove into a telephone pole. In both cases, no one was seriously injured but the cars were totaled.

Hmmm, I thought, the yahoos are taking themselves out. Perhaps there was some cosmic plan to eliminate them one by one by wrecking their cars. I don't wish harm on anyone, not even the licensed and brainless, but I would be lying if I didn't admit to deriving a certain smirking satisfaction out of these two incidents.

But then a day or so later, a friend told me one of the yahoos had driven over her cat. Sad. But it gets worse: This past Monday, I woke up to read about an incident of speeding and tire-squealing in Dunham that ultimately resulted in a dead 18-year-old and severely injured passengers. When I got to work I read about a couple in Toronto who were killed by drag racers, leaving their 7-year-old daughter orphaned.

Suddenly I didn't feel amused or satisfied anymore.

I'd like to imagine that these accidents would make the yahoos think. But that evening, I saw a car peel around a corner in a trail of black smoke. I felt like throwing something - something a little more lethal than a doughnut.