Here’s what I love about this small university town I’ve lived in so long: the townies. Half are university professors and staff, and half work the businesses and services of our tree-lined, brick-paved uptown with its intersecting Main Street and High Street. We pretty much know and trust each other, whether we are one of the tree-hugging progressives (probably the majority of town residents) or the often more conservative bunch from the surrounds. We know each other. We look out for each other.
Here’s a small example: last summer my four-year-old grandson used the rung of a fragile dining chair as a personal launching pad. He was shocked and very upset when it broke. Actually, the wood splintered, which he tearfully assumed was a permanent and serious problem. “We’ll get it fixed,” I reassured him. I knew I could stick the chair in my car and run it to John down at the local Ace. John, as townies know, is a good guy who does stuff like woodworking on the side. It did take him a whole day to get to it, and he did grossly overcharge me ($5.00) but it’s perfect now, and I guess it was fair because he also fixed the joints, polished the chair and told me how to take better care of the wood in addition to suggesting that we get Andrew a suitable trampoline.
Today I went into the post office where Kim and Carey are the smart, funny women who really run the place. They are always telling me the safest and/or quickest and/or cheapest way to send something, and their advice is always sound. Today I had a sympathy card for a friend in my exercise class whose husband died suddenly. Her phone is unlisted, and I don’t know her address. I took it to Carey and said, “Hey, Carey, I’m pretty sure she lives on Contreras. Can you ask the mail carrier if I’m right?”
“Sure,” she said, and took the stamped envelope with my friend’s name on it to the back. A minute later she returned to the counter without the card. “Yep. Done. He’s got it.”
See my point? I don’t mean to romanticize; I admit we have a limited choice of restaurants, and there’s no mall. Also no movie theater. Of course we have problems, too. Every locale does, I imagine. We work ours out. And we have fifteen miles of spectacular nature trails with creeks and ponds, great free concerts in the uptown park every Thursday night all summer, the cultural advantages of the university, and there are trees and flowers everywhere. Schools are good. Our children are safe. But it’s really the people. We know each other.
Is there something positive you can tell us about where you find yourself? Please mention it in Comments. These days we can all stand to hear about anyplace people work together with basic trust and good will.