Something unusual happened yesterday.
'Twas payday, so drove the wagon to Port V. to get supplies for the rest of the fortnight. Quite a pleasant drive, actually. A calm, sunny morning and the relatively well-kept dirt road winds its way along the cliff-tops above the coastline, so pottered along at the – now – mechanically imposed 40-45kph.
First stop was the post office. Withdrew $250, paid another $20 for internet access recharge then to the IGA for groceries. Have discovered (re-discovered?) that vegetable soup is a cheapish way of filling the belly so – bag of spuds, carrots, onions and a few bits and pieces (including a couple of “luxuries” like a 200g block of chocolate on special for 99c). $80 all up.
Also said hello to my favourite “checkout chick” - but before anyone has snide thoughts, she's 45 or so, very attractive in an odd sort of way, so my interest perked up some weeks ago when I first saw her and noticed the absence of finger rings. Hopes were dashed somewhat when I mentioned that had just come come back from Innes National Park. “Oh yes”, she says, “hubby and I go fishing there quite often”. Bugga.
Next stop was the butcher. I don't eat much in the way of meat, these days. Too expensive – especially the pre-pack supermarket offerings. However; some bacon bones, six sausages, and a small piece of stewing steak came to the grand total of $5-25. “Sorry about that,” I say to the bloke behind the counter, “am last of the big spenders”.“No problem”, he mutters, “every little bit helps”.
Then to the tiny one-man hardware store for two 9v batteries (don't ask what they're for, long story) - $5-00 each. For some strange reason he's $2-3 cheaper than the supermarkets.
Next, fuel for the generator. ($20 for 15 litres) as well as filling the water containers. Can generally survive on 30-40 litres per week, but have been greatly assisted of late by rainwater run-off from the annexe roof collected in buckets. Even took the drastic step of washing the dishes and some clothes – 10 litres of rainwater wasted .. heh.
The morning became very interesting when I went to pay for the fuel.
Poked my head around the workshop door, saw Geoff the owner, sitting at his desk engrossed in his computer screen; and Nathan, the young(ish) mechanic sitting there watching. “Sheesh”, say I in jest, “don't you blokes ever do any work?” Geoff glanced at me. “Pull up a chair”, he says briskly, so parked bum on stool between the cash register and refrigerator.
Geoff pushes chair back from desk, turns to face me, gives me a long searching look.
“We're Christians”, he says, glancing at Nathan. ??, think I, where the eff is this going? But remained silent.
“We believe in the Bible .. pause, no reaction from me .. and we know you don't have much money to fix your car”, (true) “so we prayed for you at the meeting last Sunday”. ?? think I, what next?, remained silent (and won't mention the sort of 'praying' that I've been doing of late).
“One question, though .. pause .. hope this doesn't offend you ..
(who me ??? Have been around a bit, interacted with a wide range of human beings – not many of them all that polite. Been called every name under the sun – so can't think of very much that could – or would – 'offend' me.)
.. but the other day you told me you play the pokies.”
“What!” exclaim me, “Never! Well, haven't played the pokies for 20 years or so, doesn't interest me. Where did you get that idea from?”.
“You told me”.
Bullsh, think I. “Yer well, must have been joking. I don't even drink - and silently adding 'well, not these days, anyway'.” Which is sort of true, surprisingly enough. Haven't had much in the way of alcohol for 6-8 weeks. No real reason to – must be getting sort of content .. heh.
“Well,” continues Geoff, “a few of us have decided to “chip in” and help you out. Nathan has to go over to Adelaide every now and then, so he's going to search around the wreckers for the best quality auto-transmission he can find. We'll help out with the cost of installing it”.
There was further longish discussion about how much finance that I could actually get hold of ($700, at a pinch), so I agreed to the terms and we sort of left it at that. Will now patiently wait to see what transpires.
At this point will have to admit that am not a “Christian” - or rather, not a “Biblical Christian” but nobody asked, so wisely decided to not raise that particularly delicate issue with them. One thought that sped through my mind at the time, though, was; what gives “Biblical” Christians the notion that they have exclusive ethical rights to “community assistance”? Am quite sure that that principle applies within every group of people on this planet – Muslim, Judean, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Calathumpian, et al. The major philosophical and sociological problem, methinks, is when these groups restrict 'community assistance' to within their own groups.
In any case, was – am – surprised and gratified by what was – is – essentially overtly-unsolicited “assistance” from the local community.
This isn't, of course, the only example of “community commitment” that have come across of late – but am finding that the further away from “big cities”, the more obvious and accessible “grass roots” community assistance becomes.