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150-The Gas Station Maps

There’s a chain of gas stations in Calgary, mostly dingy little places, called Fast Gas. For the most part there’s nothing exceptional about them beyond that the decor hasn’t been upgraded since the early eighties. But one station right on the highway that is a little different. There’s a pile of yellow roadmaps next to the cash register. If you try to purchase one, the clerk will say “Oh, you don’t want those. They don’t have the new construction.” Verbatim, to the word.

If you want to own one of the maps, you must reply “I’m lost, I’ll take anything right now.” He’ll nod and ring one of them up. The roadmaps depict Calgary as it was in 1978, with one major exception: it shows about a half dozen roads that you’ll never have heard of. If you track one of these side-streets down and drive down it, you’ll find yourself in one of the other Calgarys. The streets don’t seem bound to any one of our city’s reflections in particular, although most often they lead to the city made from all the buildings we’ve demolished.

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