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Bailouts — one more reason for living in a small town. It is not government subsidies that are the subject of one more conversation, it is the small town neighborliness of merchants, who tell the customers who need a little loose change help, “Oh, don’t worry about it, just bring it by later.”
This is a very personal service that has been extended to me time and time again, so it was only natural, I suppose, that my first instinct was to walk down the street to the video store to borrow a quarter to replace the nickel I mistakenly inserted into the paper box. It required no excuse about my missing glasses or my lack of individual responsibility for making sure I had enough change for the coin box. Meeker Video’s Joanne Ruckman was more than happy to lend a hand.
Upon considering my options, when the wayward nickel popped out of the change holder (proper change was required), a quick trip down the street seemed the only plan. Humiliation and embarrassment (about being more than a dime and less than a dollar short) didn’t matter, as the prospect of another newspaper buyer getting the last paper loomed. By the time I would have returned from a quick trip home for the additional change, the next customer would have not only gotten the last Denver Post, but a lot of loose change as well.
“Here you go,” Ruckman said, as she held out the needed coin. Although I went into a long-winded explanation about the problem, she was reaching for the quarter before I could finish.
“That’s another reason for living in a small town,” I said to the only other customer in the store.
“Yes,” she added with a smile, “we give money to our customers.” (rather than taking it per usual, I suppose.) She explained to me later that she had gone up to the cash register a little short herself, and understood the dilemma I faced. Most everyone has faced missing a few cents for the purchase of a stamp, a candy bar, or a pop.
It was not until my return a little later that I found a couple of other reasons I like living in a small town as well. Two teenagers, in fact. I first met them as elementary students. After I paid up my short-term I.O.U. I turned to see the boys next to me at the counter. We started chatting and I explained to them how nice it was for me to see their familiar faces. Ruckman told me that part of the pleasure of her job was getting to know kids from their earliest days and their first dollars.
“Wow, you guys are too big for words!”
Their silence was broken by the bolder one’s comment about his remembrance of me as an elementary school teacher.
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