10 July 2015


Highway 105, on Cape Breton Island, was the last place I expected to get stuck in traffic. We were just cresting a hill near English Bay, when the cars in front of us almost stopped moving. It had been a magnificent visit to the Island, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Besides the stunning scenery there is also the best chowder, the most carbs, and the highest probability of affectionately being called ‘dear’.  

After a few days in this land, I get lulled into believing that the world is a gentle place and nothing could go wrong, except on TV. Which is why I was surprised to find myself, travelling to the airport on a one-lane highway, on a road that was barely moving.

Rush Hour, in the land of Marge
I veered out a little bit to see what was causing the commotion. Slightly ahead, there was a small car with a little white sign on the roof. ‘Mmph. Friggin’ taxi,’ I muttered to my mom, sister, and nephew, all of whom were in the car with me. 

‘No,’ said sister Sue, ‘Looks like a driving instructor. A bad one.’ We moved ahead another few feet. ‘You should run him off the road,’ suggested Sue cheerfully, clearly getting back into her big city mentality, ‘It’ll be good for him.’ From the back seat my mom chuckled quietly and my nephew loudly rolled his eyes.

Luckily the highway split in two, cars started moving, and I was able to near the offending vehicle. It was an old unmarked four-door burgundy Chrysler sedan, and there was indeed a sign on the roof, which said simply, ‘MARGE’S’.

‘Marge’s what’ said Sue, ‘Who is Marge?’

Assuming it was a taxi, I was prepared to be irked. After all, taxi drivers know not to doddle on main thoroughfares, especially if they have a passenger. I looked at the driver, and saw a small head with a cloud of white hair, and two little hands gripping the wheel. Marge?

‘Oh for sure she’s a driving instructor  - for seniors,’ said Sue, with a stunning show of confidence. Susan apparently, had little tolerance for driving instructors and was not prepared to cut her any slack, in the same way that I had no slack to offer, for taxis.

‘Who cares what kind of car it is?’ said my nephew. Well, I do. I care very much what kind of service Marge is offering. It's the only way I’ll know how mad I’m supposed to be. But Marge wasn’t giving away too much information. For all I know her sign might just be something she puts on her car for no reason at all. Or perhaps she’s delivering scones.  

But without knowing what kind of service vehicle it was, I lost the ability to be judgemental, and with that  – the desire to be upset.  After all, how can you start thinking, ‘Marge should know better’, when you don’t even know what Marge is supposed to do.

So we passed MARGE’s, each of us swivelling our heads, looking for some sort of clue. But the little burgundy car revealed nothing. Just a small sedan going well below the speed limit. Offering nothing, except maybe a lesson, in the kind of big city mentality you ought not to use.

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