Uniqe StoreOn Saturday night, I realized we had forgotten some things at the grocery store. This is normally no big deal, since it’s just a hop, skip & a jump away from our house — however, the stores are closed on Sunday. Just like everything else we do, life in Saba requires more advance planning than if we were in the States. Once you get used to that, it starts to feel less inconvenient — and more normal. In fact, for those who are downshifting or wanting to live a more simple life, the fact that you have more limited access to things is condicive to focusing on just the basics of what you need.

Dollars for Guilders
Back to Saturday at the store — we typically pay for everything with cash at one of the stores — the Unique Store. I was at the Unique store paying for my groceries. I had not calculated the total correctly in my head because all of the prices are in Netherlands Antillean guilders (US$1—1.790 (fixed rate since 1989) ). US dollars and guilders are regularly used in Saba, so all of the prices are stated in guilders and then the cashier calculates the amount in dollars if that is the currency you have. Well, I found myself short $4.30 US and was a bit embarassed. I asked the cashier if I could run up to my cottage and get the cash (it would have taken all of 2 minutes) and was surprised with her answer. She asked the owner if it was OK if I just came back on Monday with the $4.30. The owner said yes — and what’s more, they did not take my name or write down the amount I owed them.

The Value of Trust
Wow — can you imagine? First of all, this means they trust me — and they don’t really know me, although they see me there a few times per week. Not to write it down means they trust me completely to bring the money back, which made me realize that many others before me must have been trustworthy. Part of why this would not typically happen in the US is because someone was not trusthworthy and rules had to be created. Another reason is that businesses are getting so big that individuals just don’t know each other anymore. Here in Saba, it is so small that most people know — or at least know of — each other. The small town kindness to others — the trust — is still here.

Going Back in Time
I can’t tell you how often my heart has filled with love and joy just living on this island. It is small random acts of kindness like this that remind me every day how wonderful human beings are. It’s not that people are less wonderful in large cities, it’s just that the level of trust seems to leave us when strangers and large entities come into play. I have to say that there is something to living in a small town or on a small island. It’s like being able to participate in something from the past that I was born too late to experience.

Your Turn
Wherever you are, what are the random acts of kindness that you have experienced? How could you surprise and delight another person with a random act of kindness of your own? What does it feel like to participate in being kind or receiving kindness from others?