Monday, March 24, 2014

And Again...It's All About Relationship

Nicaragua has an interesting mix of centuries going on here.  There is certainly evidence of the 21st century...iPhones, tablets, etc.; however, there are many things that seem "old fashioned."  While there are big corporate stores owned by Wal-Mart, there are many 'mom & pop' stores like you see in the movies or read about in books.  The owners of such stores, if you visit them regularly, get to know you.  You develop a relationship with them. 

There are a few such stores that we frequent regularly.  One of which is the bakery where we buy our 'daily bread', literally.  Oh, and sometimes donuts.  In fact, we are there so frequently that I just send a child in to buy the bread while I wait in the air-conditioned car.  Juana, the lady at the counter, knows my children (they are the pale white ones that are hard to miss) and she'll wave to me through the glass store door.  If I do go in, she asks how I've been and mentions my kids.   We've developed a relationship.

Another store we frequent is the veterinary supply store a few kilometers from our house.  Rachel, the owner, knows us well.  There was one day when I went in to pick up some supplies for Jeff and I didn't have enough cash to pay the bill.  She just gave me an I.O.U. and said I could pay next time.  We definitely have established a relationship.

Yesterday, I ran into another pharmacy that we use often.  (We mostly go in there to make photocopies for Jeff's class.  She also sells some of the medical supplies Jeff needs for his veterinary work.  The owner knows us as well.)  When I went in yesterday, I needed band-aids and rubber bands.  She had the band-aids for sale but no rubber bands.  However, she handed me a bag of rubber bands that she had been collecting over time on her desk.  She said she'd give them to me for free. For some reason, this little event really struck me.  She could have made up a price and gotten some cash for the rubber bands; however, she knows us and was willing to just "help us out."   We have a relationship. 

In the 21st century there seems to be a thick wall between the business owner and the customer--a wall where a simple wooden counter used to be.  I'm thankful that the simple counters still exist here--although, who knows for how much longer!