Stories on the edge of familiarity

How Far Would You Go For the Sake of a Joke?

An hour left to the airport found me returning from the bathroom, only to find a rental car parked between me and my bike. The driver leaned against the side of the car, cup of coffee in hand. He waved.

“Quit following me.” I threw the sentence behind me as I walked past.

“I’m not following you. Just going home.”

“Then take. A different. Route.” Back atop my bike, I leaned forward, ready to start it.

“Oh, sure, I’ll just hop on the other Trans-Canada Highway.” His glare was a challenge.

Earlier today, I posted on Facebook these lines from the short story I’m currently writing, codenamed Green Girl. The meme I was tagged in (well, I asked to be tagged in :P ) involves sharing seven lines from the seventh page of your current work in progress. The fact that these ended up being the lines to share pleased me to no end.

You see, this is the first joke I’ve ever written that I did research for so that it could stay in the story. Here’s how it went:

I had to get the main character from a forested part of Ontario to a forested part of B.C. At some point during the trip, this particular exchange had to happen on the Trans-Canada Highway at a point where it isn’t randomly split into two (otherwise, the joke wouldn’t be funny). Which meant that there also had to make sense for them to be on that particular road.

First, I picked a point A and B via Google Maps that I could use to estimate route and travel time. These ended up being Thunder Bay, ON and Cranbrook, BC, with the most efficient way to drive from one to the other mostly involving the Trans-Canada Highway. So far so good. Until I found out that the trip would take three days. Due to story circumstances, that was too long. Which meant that my main character would have to fly instead of drive. Which also meant that the only way now to retain the joke would be if my main character (who I also wanted to have on her bike at some point in the story) had to drive to the airport.

So, I looked up the airports in and around Thunder Bay. The only problem was that Thunder Bay has an airport within the city limits that would be impractical to access via the TransCanada Highway. Which meant I had to pick another location that was suitably distant from airports. This ended up being Dryden, ON.

At that point, regular Google helped me search for flights from the airports close to Dryden to the airport in Cranbrook. This took a bit to work out, but I eventually figured out that, if my main character drove from Dryden to the Winnipeg airport, then she could get a flight from there to Cranbrook with a layover in Calgary. It would cost about $500, and it would leave around 6:30 pm, which worked given a number of other story variables. Not only that, but the four-hour trip from Dryden to Winnipeg would almost exclusively involve the Trans-Canada Highway.

And that, my friends, is how you end up doing an hour’s worth of research all for the sake of accurately setting up a joke that only involves four lines of dialogue.

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