Small Town Living


by Amanda Witherell

I just returned from ten days on an idyllic island in downeast Maine. For the seaside hamlet from whence I hail, it's local custom to leave your car keys in the ignition so you don't lose them and your front door unlocked, or even wide open, so the cat can come and go while you're at work. After a few days of openly worrying about my friends' unlocked bicycles, I settled back into the local population and the comfortable human trust they maintain, where everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

Welcome back to San Francisco, where a Honda Pilot is the new street weapon of choice and the annual murder rate is climbing to fresh heights. Scan the daily headlines and it's easy to believe the streets are not safe and no one is watching your back. Again and again I hear people say San Francisco isn't like other cities. It's small for a metropolis and each neighborhood is like its own little town taking care of its own, clustered among dozens of others on a peninsula that acts more like an island.

Well, if that's true, then in the Guardian's hood, all hail the New Portrero Market. A couple days ago I ventured up the hill to buy a bottle of water and inadvertently let $60 fall out of my wallet. I'm not really in the financial position to be so cavalier with money and I was dismayed by the loss. I figured it was payback for my preadolescent penchant for the five finger discount, and let it go. Who the hell tries to track down the owner of sixty bucks?

But I was thinking about it today on my lunchbreak and stuck my head into the market, just to see if maybe there's an honest soul out there...

Well hell yeah! There are two. As I made my meek inquiry, Marwan punched the "No Sale" button on the register and immediately handed me my wandering Jacksons. Mike, who I'd been chatting with while I wasn't paying attention to my wallet, had found them after I left the market, and Marwan had tucked them under the drawer for safekeeping should I ever return for another bottle of water. I'll be certain to now. Hooray for the small town neighborhoods we still have in this city!