Country Home: Good Neighbors and Watermelon

I grew up in the city but live in the country. There are obviously many cultural differences, one of which was brought home to me the other day. I live in Arkansas, out in the country, and most people here are good neighbors to everyone they meet. The people I came across recently were a perfect example, so I wanted to share this story.

There is a little town called Cave City that is renowned for having the sweetest watermelons anywhere. This is the time of year for them. While I don’t get over that way much, I had to take a road trip the other day. As I was passing through, I decided I should grab a watermelon for my family.

It was almost 5:00 p.m., and I was afraid the little roadside stands would be closed before I could find an ATM and get back. I found the stand I had been to in the past and stopped to see if they’d wait for me to come back. They said I could write a check instead of having to go to the bank.

This is the part that got me: the older man, apparently the father, said, “Honey, if you ever want a melon and we aren’t here, go ahead and take one. They’re marked, so just leave a note how much you owe, and you can pay us later.”

I laughed out loud. He wasn’t kidding. He said people for miles around do it. He also told me that he figured if anyone was so bad off that they had to steal a watermelon that they were either hungry or otherwise had bigger problems than he did. That they needed it more than he needed the money.

You just don’t find neighborly attitudes like that in big cities very often, and it’s one of the things that make me glad I moved to the country. He was such a sweet man that I bought two watermelons instead of one and took the two largest ones he had.