When something big happens in small towns, everyone talks about it. When the thing that happened is something illegal, people talk about it more. They want to know about it so they can be the guy who knows about it. No one knows the exact details except the people involved, but the rumours still fly. For some reason, some people (not everyone) get a high from being that person who “knows” what’s going on.
It’s the grown-up version of the playground taunt “I know something you don’t know.” In this version, however, people tend to be a little more subtle, like this:
“Oh, so I guess you haven’t heard…”
“I know what happened. I can’t say, and I can’t tell you who told me, but I know.”
“Well… I heard this from Teresa’s brother who’s buddy’s girlfriend was actually there when it happened. So… I know.”
It’s a competition of who can sound like they know the most about a situation, based on the people they know. It’s entertaining, really. I should emphasize, however, not everyone who lives in small towns partakes in this game of being the guy who knows, but it seems to be a common trend in my experience.
Over this past summer, there was a mysterious happening in La Salle. There were a number of cop cars parked at a house on a quiet street for three days straight. As you could imagine, the rumours soared. By the third day, I was hearing everything from murder-suicide stories to grow-ops. The real story didn’t come out until months later, and it turned out to be a tragic one.
Before the truth came out in the Winnipeg Free Press sometime in late August, most of the people I talked to around town had already come to a general consensus on what happened. The consensus was wrong. Who do I blame for this misinformed idea of what happened? The guy who knows.
I think the problem is when you get too many people itching to be in the loop. The first guy who knows hears the rumour, and he runs into the next guy who knows. The first guy tells the second guy the rumour (so he can feel like a powerful guy who knows). The second guy doesn’t give the first guy the satisfaction of believing him, but then he runs into the third guy who knows, and tells him the rumour. The rumour continues to spread, and people believe it, because it’s coming from people who know. Heck, I believed it!
I’m being a little hard on the guy who knows, but I don’t hate him—he just fascinates me. I probably have a little bit of the guy who knows in me, too. When people around town came to this false conclusion about what had happened, I couldn’t help by say, “Yeah, I know,” when I heard the rumour again and again.
I think most people from small towns have a little bit of the guy who knows in them. It’s funny how that works, but it’s just another one of those small town things.