Friday, 14 November 2008

Metal in the Country

In the 15 years we've lived in the village, this was the second time I'd actually had a coffee at the General Store. Not because I haven't wanted to. On the contrary, I love the idea of morning or afternoon coffee at the local Store. It's just that the Machinist keeps me busy. Really busy.

The Storekeeper took the opportunity to sit outside with me so she could light up a cigarette. The day was warm and bright (not like the weather depicted in this photo of the General Store). Birdsong drowned out any potential audible distractions. Suddenly, the roar of an engine approaching. Customers wanting fuel.

A young Indian chap left the car to pay. The Storekeeper went inside to take his money. I was left alone. Time to think. Great. There's never enough time to think.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a man approaching my table. The very same man I presumed to be the Indian chap's father. I was right. In a broad, Sri-Lankan accent:

"Tell me - do you ever get bored in this place?"

"No, never."

"You don't? I have to confess, I don't think I could live here. It's so quiet. And you don't mind that it is so quiet?"

"We came from South Africa. We've seen many horrible things. We love that it is so peaceful and quiet here"

"But what is there to do?"

I nearly choked on my bubbly cappucino. What is there to do? What is there to do? If only he knew how busy we usually are.....

"Well, I'm usually so very busy with our family business". I didn't sound convincing, because the sun had made me lazy, and I'm sure he could tell by my slow-blinking eyelids, as well as the angle I was sitting on the bench. A relaxed angle.

"You have a business? What, here? In this town?"

"Actually, we have two"

"What do you do?"

For the next ten minutes, I filled the stranger in on what we do and what we propose to do in the future.

"That's very interesting. Do you have a card?"

"Sorry, I don't seem to have one on me" Now who, pray, takes their business cards with them when they go up to the local store for coffee with the Storekeeper?

"No matter. I will look up your company name on the internet. Do I just put in the search engine 'Metal in the country'?"

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