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Small town

By John Toth

The Bulletin

I got really nervous. The family just finished breakfast at Denny’s in Clute. Our stomachs were full, but my pocket was empty. I left my wallet at home.

Panic time. I was stuck. The server came around and asked if we wanted something else. I got up and told her my dilemma.

“I don’t have any money with me. I left my wallet at the house,” I explained.

I was prepared to wash dishes, but she said she’d take care of it. She paid for our breakfast and gave me her address.

I paid her back and included a really good tip and a thank you note.

I live in a small town.

While we owned Stand-up Defensive Driving at Brazos Mall, a middle-aged woman signed up for the class. When she came in, she told me she didn’t have enough money to pay the fee.

“Pay me tomorrow,” I said.

She said she wouldn’t have the money tomorrow, either. She wouldn’t be paid until the next week.

“Take the class and pay me when you get the money,” I said.

She was very grateful. I sent her a certificate of completion a few days later, but she still did not show up with her fee.

I figured it would be a write-off. She needed the money for something else - not a big deal.

Two months later she came into the class during a break with the fee. I told her I forgot all about it and was very impressed.

“I came up with it as soon as I could,” she answered.

It’s hell to be poor. I’ve been there.

My job is in a small town.

I was standing behind a young woman at H.E.B. She was holding cash in her hand and watched the register.

“I don’t have enough for that,” she told the cashier. “Put that aside.”

I looked at my wife, Sharon. The woman was putting aside some fruit, I believe, nothing extravagant. We knew what to do.

“Ring it all up,” we instructed the cashier. The young woman looked surprised.

We paid for her groceries, then we paid for ours. Fate put us in line behind her. We took advantage of it. I don’t know the young woman’s name and would not recognize her if I saw her. I also didn’t give her my name. We left the store feeling fulfilled.

All my friends are so small-town.

Got nothing against a big town.

I prefer a small town not too far from a big town. I used to live in big towns and decided after college to stick to small towns. Lucky for me, because I met Sharon in a small town.

It’s too much hassle to live in a big city. Too many complications, too much crime and traffic, too polluted.

And I can breathe in a small town.

I wasn’t born in a small town, but all our children were, and they were raised in a small town.

Unfortunately, our small town is growing very fast and will soon be a not-so-small town. But it still won’t be a big town.

Gonna die in a small town.

Oh, and that's probably where they'll bury me, yeah.

But not anytime soon, so you’ll be able to read my weekly columns for a very long time to come. I write them in a small town.

Email me at and let me know what song is stuck in my mind, and who sings it. And tell me why you live in a small town.


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