Another Trip Down Memory Lane... Life in Christian County, Kentucky... And What I Think About It...
Lately, I seem to have trouble getting my thoughts together to write anything. Here's something from my archives, written about seven or eight years ago, when I was working at the little country store just a mile from home.
And if this describes you -- well, now you know what I think.
Business was slow at the little country store yesterday afternoon. I don't suppose I'd had a customer for an hour or so when the gray Mercedes pulled up and a man and a woman came inside. They were wearing the appropriate Ralph Lauren clothing for a day in the country. They paid for soft drinks with a fifty peeled off a stack of bills, and looked around the store with interest.
"Do you have any old things here you'd like to sell?" The lady was running an exquisitely manicured finger along the back of the ancient church pew where our regulars sit to eat sandwiches and tell stories. Her eyes wandered to the vintage Coca Cola thermometer hanging by the sink at the back of the store.
"No, ma'am," I said. "Everything in here belongs to the family." (Not my family, but The Family who has owned the store for 55 years or more and until recently, ran the business.)
"Well, do you know of anyone who has some old furniture ruining in their barn? Or maybe you know an old person who'd have some things to sell?"
"No, I sure don't," I said. "Sorry..."
"We're spending a few days here visiting," the lady said. "We like to look for antiques everywhere we go."
"Everybody around here is pretty antique-aware. I don't know anybody who'd sell a thing," I said firmly.
"Well, thank you," she said. "You've got a real nice little store here."
They donned their sunglasses and drove away, leaving me a little surprised at the degree of antagonism I'd felt when they started asking about buying the old things in my neighborhood.
Some might say that if my neighbors did have some old handmade pieces of furniture rotting in their barn, it would be better for a Mercedes-driving stranger to have them than for them to be ruined. But I'd have felt like an accessory to a crime if these strangers had paid little-of-nothing for something that should be a family treasure, even if the family hasn't realized it yet.
It was obvious that the antique hunters were from a different world. Their flannel shirts, blue jeans, barn jackets, and oversized hiking boots hadn't seen any honest wear, and their car probably cost nearly as much as my house. They might have looked just right in their country costumes at a resort or lodge somewhere, but they didn't belong at our shabby, dusty little country store with the outhouse behind it.
Every town around here has antique stores in it. Those antique hunters didn't want to shop. They came to the country because they wanted to steal, and that's what irritated me. It gave me an undeniable pleasure to refuse my help.