Small Town Victories

December 01, 2009 By: erik Category: Colindres, Musings, Spain 147 views

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Recently I’ve been particularly enjoying living in a small town. Many of the shopkeepers and bartenders know me, most not by name, and even some not by nationality, but they all say hello and some of the bartenders will even start preparing my drink when they see me enter.

Profit Presbyopia

Several years ago, when we first moved here, I noticed that when I wore my glasses, which I mainly only use for driving, things were a little bit more blurry than they had been previously. My prescription was changing. So I went to the local optometrist shop and explained the situation. She sat me down in the chair and swung that big apparatus in front of me and we went about determining my perfect prescription with me reading letters off a faraway screen. She agreed that my prescription had changed slightly, but counseled me that, for such a small change, it wasn’t worth me buying new frames and lenses until my eyesight changed some more. I said thank you and goodbye and walked out of the store, astonished that someone would talk a customer out of a sale like that. In the years that followed we have purchased sunglasses from that optometrist for my wife, my daughter, and myself, a several hundred euro reward for the optometrist being such an honest, helpful person.

Rounding Down

A couple weeks ago, one of Marga’s rings found its way onto our bedroom floor, and got stepped on in the dark by my luckily slippered foot, bending it considerably. I took it to the local jeweler, from whom we bought our wedding rings. We also know the woman there because she has a daughter two months younger than ours and was in our birthing classes. They took the ring, said the “rounding” procedure would cost about 10€ and a week to fix, since they had to send it off to their workshop. A week later I went back and the ring was round again. I asked how much it cost, and they said, “Nah, forget about it.”

Package Deal

Today I was out walking my daughter around town. As I walked, I was wondering when the package I was expecting would be arriving. When we were clear on the opposite side of town, we walked by a postal van, and a postal worker walked up to me and said, “Hey, don’t you live at [my-address-redacted]?” “Um, yeah.” “I’ve got a package for you, but it’s heavy. I’ve got a few more things to deliver, and I see that you’re out for a walk. How about I deliver it to you in thirty minutes? Can you be there?” I agreed, went to the grocery store and then home to wait for my package, which arrived right on time.

  • This all sounds good, but I feel compelled to speak up for the big city. These things happen in Atlanta, too (though postal routes are understandably more geographically compact here). We had a situation very similar to “Profit Presbyopia” at the mechanic down the block two weeks ago. And before last Christmas, Arica and I were shopping for some jewelry. We were first time customers at this store, but the store had been recommended to us by a friend. The jeweler offered us a lower price if we paid cash, but who carries cash? Also, we were going out of town for the holidays. The jeweler let us take the goods with us, saying “just pay me when you get back in town”. We’re talking several thousand dollars – not an amount that’s going to make or break his operation, but not chump change, either. So we took the jewelry, Arica got to show it off to her friends and family, and we paid the guy when we got home.

    Sorry — I don’t mean to hijack your comment thread. All the things you describe point to quality of life in your town being pretty good. I just tend to chafe at “small town”/”big city” comparisons. The main reason for my ire is probably the stupid “small town America is the real America” nonsense that is fairly common in U.S. political discourse (and which I do not believe that you are in any way guilty of, whether in this post or any other). But also I feel that there’s a fair amount of confirmation bias at work — when something cozy happens in a small town, it must have happened because small town people are the salt of the earth. If something shitty happens in the city, it must be because the rat race has turned us all into assholes.

    • You reminded me that I forgot to mention that that same optometrist, when we bought Nora’s sunglasses, let us use them for several days without paying a euro dime to see if she would wear them or not.

      It’s true that all of these situations can happen in the big city. City neighborhoods are just like small towns. I, too, despise anyone who uses the phrase “real America” politically.

      I assume that since your “pay in cash discount” wasn’t about “money now rather than later”, it was to perform a bit of tax fraud. Such tax fraud is the rule in Spain, rather than the exception.

      • Oh, great. Now tax evasion only happens in the city? And cute babies only frolic in cute sunglasses in the country, right? Boy, you’ve really showed your true colors now.

        (By which I mean: “That’s a good point.”)