Friends & Neighbors
I decided to drive to Little Italy one evening before ringing in the new year to pick up a few things at the Cash and Carry Italian grocery.
The neighborhood was packed. Diners were filling the local restaurants to capacity. Valets were running around to park new arrivals for the busy evening rush. At the Italian grocery, which also houses the neighborhood’s oldest restaurant dating back to 1950, the parking attendant apologized saying he had not a space to give me. But, he suggested I park on the street straddling the curb and the parking lot entrance. Not exactly legal, but he told me to put my blinkers on and he would “keep a watch on it.” He said if the police came by, he would tell them he was valet parking it and just waiting for a space to move it.
So, I thanked him and slipped into the grocery which had a line out the door, as diners piled in hoping to get a seat at the adjacent very popular restaurant–Filippi’s. After quickly filling my basket with a few select Italian goodies, I went outside to retrieve my car. As I turned the key, oh no–my battery was dead!
And a rush of cars were beeping their horns at me impatiently waiting for me to move. A few choice words were aimed my way…
Worst possible time and location (an evening during the holidays) to be stuck.
I popped open the hood assessing what to do, sort of head in hands, shaking my head. Just my luck, I thought…
As I looked up, I saw some friendly faces.
They were my friends from the neighborhood–Umberto and Pietro. “What are you doing here blocking traffic” they joked with me in Italian, grinning the whole time. I explained the situation and they snapped into action. Pietro ran to his car for a quick start jumper device. And the other friend, Umberto went home at his nearby condo for a minute to get something for me. He wagged his finger at me. “Don’t leave.” he said. I replied, “where I am going?”
As we zapped my battery and I turned the key, I was back in business. By that time, Umberto had returned to give me a bag of castagne (chestnuts) to roast for the holidays. I shook their hands and wished them both a happy new year (Buon Anno) and slipped a few bucks in the parking lot attendant’s hand for his efforts.
Friends and neighbors and neighborhood.
Oh…and chestnuts too.
That is what Little Italy, San Diego is about.
Happy New year 2017 everybody!