|Best dango (traditional sweet treats) and rice balls in town|
I thought about it for a second. If I chose the former, the rice balls would be exactly as I expected, all served up by a crew of expert technicians clad in surgical masks, aprons, and gloves, who have been carefully trained to never utter a word that falls outside a manual that was painstakingly scripted to streamline any needless chit chat out of existence. It had everything I desired. Most of all it lacked the element of surprise that existed at the rickety old wooden storefront just down the street where somebody was always in the mood for gabbing.
So I headed toward the bright gleaming shop on the hill where there was no danger of anyone engaging me in idle conversation and the only thing expected of me was cold hard cash. I made it about fifty paces before the guilt started to settle into my bones and stopped me dead in my tracks. Like it or not, I have developed a relationship with that little mom & pop shop that's hard to sever so quickly. Besides that it's a lot closer to home, geographically as well as figuratively speaking. I really had no choice so I turned and walked back down the hill.
"I saw your mother-in-law the other day," the old lady said to me the minute I stepped under the shop's faded awning. Then she went on to tell me, "I told her, you're a real nice guy. At the top of my lungs I shouted, 'HE'S SUCH A NICE GUY," really, I did!"
I've come to expect the unexpected here and this greeting was definitely a pleasant surprise that really made my day and then some. I'm glad I decided to make my lunchtime investment in the local community. Now I only wish the old lady who owns that rice ball shop didn't have me confused with the Irish guy who used to live down the street from me (I hope he and his mother-in-law appreciate what I've done for his reputation) but that might be expecting too much.