Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Good And Evil... My Little Town.

Growing up in a little town left me with a distinct impression about good and evil. It's hard to imagine, given the time and place I now live. My mom bought her groceries at the Safeway a couple of blocks from my elementary school. From about the time I was in the 4th grade, I can remember us walking after school to the Safeway store on Wednesdays -- "double stamp day." Students in my grade walked several blocks to the Jr. High school for band practice. Young kids walked home from school by themselves and traveled many blocks through neighborhoods that would now seem dangerous -- but it wasn't that way then.

I clearly remember, though, a lesson my dad taught me (I write this on his birthday). Dad was a mechanic and also the Service Manager at the local Ford Dealer. Not far down our main street was a service station.

When I was quite young, dad helped me understand that the service station had a reputation for dishonesty. He explained that they made a lot of money by sabotaging the tires and batteries on the cars of travelers who stopped for gasoline. As an attendant checked under the hood, he would find a way to make the battery look bad. As he checked the tires, he would sometimes damage one of them and offer to sell a new one. They had a variety of clever tricks to scare travelers into spending money.

Dad knew this was true, because wary travelers would often choose to go to a dealer for their repairs and end up at the Ford place. More likely than not, dad would show people what had happened and help them get on their way at little or no cost.

He once told another businessman, "I'd rather be cheated out of a dollar than knowingly cheat someone else out of a dime." The businessman hung his head and said, "I'm not sure I can say that."

Murders almost never happened in my little town. Robberies were rare. Assaults were unusual when I was growing up.

But good and evil? Oh, yeah!

What about your town?

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