The Rest of The Small Town Story

Posted by Big Papa | | Posted On Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 11:01 PM

So a week after my trip to North Vernon I find myself heading back to deliver a proposal to my prospect.  Verna took a couple days off work which allowed us to spend the weekend at James & Shel’s helping Dave & Whit on their addition.  Verna decided that she would go with me to North Vernon on Monday and that we could then leave to head home from there.
I dropped her off in downtown North Vernon and told her that I would pick her up in about an hour.  She went to an antique shop, an old hardware store that could have also been labeled an antique store, and also to an Army surplus store.
The Army Surplus store is where my story starts, the first part as told to me by Verna.
She goes into the Army Surplus store and finds something that she wants to buy but when she gets to the counter she realizes that she doesn’t have her wallet.  She starts laughing and the store owner gives her in inquisitive look as to what’s so funny, so she proceeds to tell him of my experience at the restaurant just down the street. 
They have quite the conversation about the time he spent in the Army, and how he enjoyed coming back to his hometown to start up his business.  He also tells about how the lady that owns the restaurant always brings extra food to the neighboring store owners.  During this conversation Verna gets my call that I’m back in town and ready to go to lunch and head home.  She comes out and gets her wallet and goes back in and settles up with him.
We then go into the Hoosier Street Grill for lunch.  The Monday special is Lasagna or Spaghetti,   The same lady that waited on me on my first visit comes to take our order and she says,  “you can have both if you want”  we both declare that would be great, as we didn’t know which we wanted.  It’s not long till we are both staring at a huge plate of delicious food of which we are doing good to eat about half of it. 
The waitress comes by with boxes so we can take it home, and just like on my previous visit she tells us that its $7 a plate and we can just leave the money on the table, when we get ready to go.  I stop her and remind her of my earlier visit.  She laughs and said “Oh we get people in here all the time who don’t have money to pay and I always tell them to come back later and pay.  Some do and some don’t”  I ask her if she is the owner, and she tells us that 12 years ago, her and her husband opened the restaurant and how much they have enjoyed having it.  The conversation then leads to how much I enjoyed my visit to North Vernon earlier, and how I was looking forward to bringing Verna with me so she could see the town also.  Then Verna tells her of her experience with not having her wallet when she went to buy something at the Army Surplus store,  and we all chuckle and I comment about how it must be something about the town that causes us to misplace our money.  We all laugh again and she finishes off our conversation with the jovial comment “Well you must be like a modern day Bonnie and Clyde coming to town to take advantage of the small town folks”

Small Town USA

Posted by Big Papa | | Posted On Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:20 AM

I’m sure any of you that have been around me much since I changed jobs have heard me say that every time I go out to I-65 and turn South instead of North I get a smile on my face.  I’ve said this many times and don’t intend to slight any of my friends and family that live North of us.  I do very much enjoy traveling North for opportunities to visit with you.  However the times like I am about to tell you about just can’t not be duplicated in the stress-filled environment of my old sales territory.

Following is how the story unfolds:  Tuesday I traveled to North Vernon, a southern Indiana town about the size of Lowell, to meet with a customer to tour their foundry and survey their needs for some new equipment.  We had a good meeting and I learned a lot about his needs that we will be able to help him with.  I ended our meeting at around 11:15 with an offer to take him to lunch, but he took a rain check and said maybe next time.  I decided to drive back into the old downtown area to see if I could find a local place to eat.  Like many small towns the downtown area had a lot of vacant store fronts and not a lot of activity but I did see several cars parked in one area of the downtown as well as a couple people entering an old building on the corner.  It was the Hoosier Street Grill.  I decided why not, I’ll give them a try.  The two adjoining storefronts were old but clean and nicely decorated with local pictures, a few antiques sitting around and an old projection type TV sitting in one of the showroom windows facing the diners with CNN playing.  The waitress was rather busy covering the 20-25 tables, which were probably about 2/3 full, by herself.  She handed me the two page menu that had sandwiches on one page and all you can eat daily specials on the other.  Tuesday was fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn and biscuits.  My order was simple “I’ll have the special”  It wasn’t long before I had a platter with half a chicken on it with all the fixins and yes it was good home cooking.
So…I’m done eating and taking a few minutes to check email on my phone when the waitress, whom by now I am suspecting is the owner, comes to see if I need anything more to eat.  I tell her no I’m fine and compliment her on the food.  She says “It’s $7.00 and you can leave the money on the table or when you’re ready just bring it over to the counter in the adjoining room.  As she is walking away I stretch out and go to reach into my pocket to get my money out saying “$7.00 I’ll see if I have that much” only then realizing that I don’t have my money clip.  With nothing to leave on the table I go next door to the counter and tell her “You know I was kidding when I said I’ll see if I have that much, but guess what I don’t.  I must have left my money clip on the table at home.”  She immediately follows with “Oh that’s OK just bring it in later”  I say “No, do you take credit cards?”  Again she says “just bring it in later.”  I say “I’ve got a $100. bill rat-holed in my wallet if you can break that.”  She says “I can break it but you don’t have to pay now if you don’t want to, just bring it in later”  I dig my rat-holed money out and happily pay her thinking to myself, that’s why I love this new job and the places that it takes me.  Life is still good in small town America.

On a side note:  I went to Wikipedia to see how North Vernon compared in size to Lowell and see that the Mayor of North Vernon is Harold “Soup” Campbell.  I’m thinking that with a mayor like that how can the restaurants in town not be M'm! M'm! Good! M'm! M'm! Good!,