Wednesday, September 14, 2011

This is how rumors get started:

I've always clung to the idea of a small town, mostly due to the fact that my childhood was ridiculously fragmented from moving around all the time.  I simply adore the idea of knowing your neighbors, stopping and having a conversation with someone in the grocery store; recognizing every face that drives by you on your way to work in the morning and smiling and waving.  The south does this better than the north, I think.

But there's a dark side to this small town, Mayberry-esque world, and it is:  the rumor mill.

Too dramatic?  Oh, I think not.

Around here, everybody knows everybody...but not just that, everybody knows everybody back to their great-great's and also knows their second and third cousins...and worst of it all, if something even slightly untoward happens within a three county radius, someone who knows your husband's uncle's cousin's wife, who just so happens to live next-door to one of your co-workers, will have been there as a bystander...and will be spreading the word of what happened in no time flat.  In short, there is a "six degrees of separation" principle around here, and with each degree of separation, the story of what happened gets a little more twisted, like an amped up game of telephone.

That being said, I've always been immune to this small town rumor mill thing.  I've been secretly a little grateful that everyone I meet doesn't already know my sordid family history or who my last ex-boyfriend was (and who broke up with whom)...all they know about me so far is that I'm "that flat-lander that married Johnny Tompkins' oldest boy and works with Nash over at Twin Oaks."  I liked it.  It was nice.

Until Monday morning rolled around.

After a lovely weekend at home that consisted of a lot of lounging around and going to church, I was flabbergasted by the first co-worker I saw when she hurriedly asked me if I had been in a wreck over the weekend ("wreck" is southern for car accident, fyi).  I must have looked a little pathetic, in my very confused state.  I even walked around the vet truck once to make sure there weren't any new dents or scratches that had given her that impression.

From there, I walked into the clinic and was bombarded by concerned faces and questions, "Lori told us you were in a wreck on Saturday!"

So then I went to talk to our office manager, Lori, who told me that our groomer, Tammy had told her about it.

I walked across the building to talk to Tammy, who told me that one of her grooming clients had called her over the weekend to ask if I was okay after she heard about my accident over her police scanner.

When Tammy told her client that she didn't know anything about my being in an accident, her client informed her that one of the vets had been in a wreck this past weekend, and that the report over the scanner was about a vet truck that had been rolled into a ditch with an unconscious woman in the driver's seat with the last name Tompkins.

I'm pretty sure they don't release people's names on the radio, but that's beside the point.

I was feeling pretty defeated by all the information that was circulating around about me.  I was even questioning whether I had done anything while I was driving this weekend that would make someone think that I was driving drunk, but as far as I knew, my vet truck had been sitting in my driveway for 2 days.

So.  I went back into the clinic and told Julie, the veteran and master and commander Technician, all about it.  Thankfully, she was able to set me straight and explain to me how the misunderstanding must have begun, since she was present for the actual accident that didn't involve me at all (see, what'd I tell you?  Six degrees of separation).

Apparently, a very inebriated, older woman had been driving a corvette and rolled it into the ditch in Piney Creek (45 minutes from my house) on Saturday afternoon.

Not a vet truck, or even a young veterinarian, but a corvette.  While Tammy's grooming client was obviously confused, basing an entire rumor off of one word seems to be a stretch, even for concerned citizens that listen to their police scanners with religious impetuosity.

But now what this really means is, that concerned citizen has more than likely been telling everyone all over the county about it saying something like, "You know that new vet that works with Nash that's married to that Tompkins' boy?  Well, she was passed out drunk in the middle of the day on Saturday and rolled her vet truck into the ditch!  Can you believe that?  And I always thought she was so nice, too!"

And I don't even drink.  Go figure.

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