By Craig Hastings
We should appreciate where we live. Twice a year, some years more often, I will have a happen-chance conversation with people either visiting or passing through Tuscola. Most of these conversations will happen when I’m refueling the police car. Seldom do I eat out when I’m on duty but there has been a time or two when someone not familiar with Tuscola will ask me questions when I run in to get a sandwich to eat in the car. In all of my years doing this, 42, never have any of these people said something negative to me about our town. It’s either a general comment about Tuscola or a compliment.
Last week while on patrol in the early afternoon I was driving North on North Main Street. I drove up behind a car also traveling north going about 10 mph. The brake lights would come on then go off and back on again. My first thought was the driver was trying to find an address because he was braking at every intersection. Because the car was traveling at such a slow pace I decided to just pull up next to them and see if I could help. The driver rolled down his window with a big smile on his face and started to apologize for driving so slow. I assured him it was all good and asked him if he was trying to find a specific address or if there was something else I could help him with. There was another gentleman in the front passenger seat. Both of these guys were obviously in good spirits.
The driver told me that he didn’t need directions, that he, the front seat passenger, and their wives were just “admiring your little town. He told me about some of the things they had seen and how impressed they were. He told me they were from a small community in southern Illinois and just on a road trip seeing the sights. They had stopped in Tuscola to have lunch and ended up choosing The Candy Kitchen. Both of these guys went on and on about how much they enjoyed their experience at The Candy Kitchen. They told how pleasant not only the staff at The Candy Kitchen had been to them but also people that they had never met before had spoken to them while they had lunch. They were amazed how clean and neat our community is and how friendly the people they had met were to them. Even though they had never been here before, the people they met acted as though they weren’t strangers.
Again he apologized for driving slowly and again I told him to stop worrying about it and if he needed to slow down to take in the sights, so be it. He told me they planned to just drive around for a bit before moving on. I bid them farewell and they thanked me for checking on them and being so polite and understanding.
Now I can tell you how these events happen, what is said, and how these strangers to Tuscola end up here. What you don’t see are the smiles on their faces and the enthusiasm they have in their voices when they are talking to me about our town. I’ve lived here my entire life and many of you have too or spent many years here. Probably, sometimes we forget how fortunate we really are to live here. Life is pretty good in Tuscola if you start comparing us to communities not that far away from us. Even through all of the COVID debacle our community took it in stride and we didn’t feel near the effects of the year and half of chaos surrounding all of the on again and off again mandates many of which never made sense. We survived the protests, the stealing, and the high crime so many communities, even ones our size, suffered through. Life just didn’t change much on the grand scale of what was going on in the rest of America.
It’s events like this one that encourage me to continue on with not only my career here but also to continue to live here. Why should I retire and move somewhere where I have no idea what’s in store for me there? I know exactly what I’m getting by staying put and finishing out my days right here. I think even if I did spend the winter months somewhere else where it’s warm, I’m probably always going to come back home and live most of my remaining days right here where I know it’s safe and people are friendly. My boys have moved out on their own so they aren’t as big a consideration now as to where I live. Now I’ll have to make sure my partner is on the same page with me about this right now but, I think I’ve got that covered. The next time you have a complaint about Tuscola, please, sit back and really think about just how big of a complaint you really have by comparison to where you might be living.