Jim Furlong: Going Down The Road

St. John’s is not like the rest of the province. You get a different view from here on various issues. We are city boys. The term my grandmother, who was from Bay Bulls, used for people from the capital was “corner boys” or sometimes, less kindly, “dirty auld St. Johns men.” Notice her use of the Irish “auld.” 

The point is residents of St. John’s are different in point of view. They see the passing parade of provincial issues through a different set of spectacles. Me? Well I’m a third generation St. John’s fellow. Ich bin ein corner boy! 

ATVs on Town Roads

I was reminded of that when the recent news issue of ATVs made its way into the headlines again. It was specifically the use of those vehicles not just in the woods and on trails but on town roads across the province. There is also the issue of their use by young drivers. Now, in St. John’s an ATV is not like an ATV in rural Newfoundland. “I blame the parents,” we all nod knowingly. 

To a townie an ATV is something you have on a trailer in your driveway and every second Sunday, weather permitting, tow with your four wheel drive out into the country for a nice ride in the woods. It is a toy of leisure. 

In many communities, however, across Newfoundland and Labrador an ATV is a vehicle of transport.

We were out to Northern Bay overnight a few years ago and before anyone was up for breakfast I jumped in my car and headed down the road in a search for a pound of bacon. I hadn’t travelled a hundred yards when I met a man on an ATV coming down the road towards me. My thoughts were that someone on an ATV at that hour of the morning (about 7:30) must be drunk and coming back from an all-nighter. 

Within the next kilometre I met two more ATVs on the main road and caught up to another one that I had to pass. 

Now I Understand

When I went to the store and got my bacon I asked the store owner about the ATV traffic on a weekday morning. He said it was just people going to work. He said it in a way that indicated there was something wrong with me for not immediately understanding ATVs on the main road. On the way back to our place with the bacon I met two more ATVs, one of which was driven by a young man who looked like he was going to school. 

Now I understand the concern about ATV use on the roads and I am not for a minute suggesting it is a good thing to be at. Nor do I like young drivers going down the road. I am just saying that now I understand it better. 

When I see the issue raised in the media I understand it as a bit cultural and I try to shift my point of view. A quote from Blaise Pascal …”To understand is to forgive.”

NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: [email protected]

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