Monday, July 16, 2007
Honor system still in tact here
While searching for Home Depot on Carrollton Sunday morning, I spied a produce cart along the road. I stopped and picked out a half dozen fruits - all at half the grocery store price - saving myself a trip to the market. The grand total was $13, but I happened to have only $11 cash on me. The vendor took the ten and told me to stop by another time to give him the rest. "Let me write you a check," I said. No - that's fine, he said. I tried, at least, to give him the remaining dollar. "What if something happened?" he asked. I assume this meant I would have money to make a phone call if I got a flat tire on the way home (as if I weren't always armed with credit cards, debit card, auto club card and every other conceivable tool - except cash.) I think this must be a throwback to the days when you kept a quarter in your sock in case you needed to make a phone call.
The produce man said he has had that spot on Carrollton for 30 years, so I could stop by any day to pay the $3 I owe. (He knows I will probably buy more and maybe become a regular - good marketing technique!)
This is not the first time in New Orleans, I've been given items I haven't paid for. In a French Quarter antique store last spring I saw a metal yard chair I wanted for my porch. The store owner didn't take credit cards - many stores and restaurants still don't after Katrina. He said, take it and bring me the money when you have it. A week later, I stopped by and handed him a twenty. He didn't remember that I'd taken the chair.
Maybe it is the storm and people have lost so much, they don't mind losing more. Or maybe it is Southern hospitality. Or maybe people still just trust one other here - or prefer not to know you're untrustworthy if you're not. Anyway, I like it and will plan my route along Carrollton next week to pay my tab.