Christmas spirit in Tucson

When I have gone out and about in Tucson, there are, despite the lack of snow and cold, signs that the Christmas season is on. Lots of inflatable snowmen. Lots of lights wrapped around the trunks of palm trees. Lots of Salvation Army bell ringers.

Speaking of which, it was touching as I walked into Target yesterday to see a blind woman digging in her purse to get out a dollar to put in the Salvation Army pail. The pail was already stuffed to overflowing with bills. I sort of felt sheepish putting in my pocket change.

The overworked clerks remain cheerful and kind. A clerk at one Circle K, the local equivalent of 7-11, was showing off a beautiful glass sculpture she received as a Christmas gift from a customer. I have noticed at other Circle K's on other visits that once you get to be a regular, they recognize you and treat you well.

In one residential section of Tucson, a place called Winterhaven (or something close to that), the residents put on a Christmas lighting contest each year which is so over the top that it draws people from all over the city. Two evenings ago, I was caught in a mile-long traffic jam on the side street I used in hopes of avoiding a mile-long traffic jam. This traffic jam was created by people attempting to drive through Winterhaven. Two policemen directed traffic into the development.

The big grocery chain in Tucson is called Fry's. On the first trip to the store each year they give you one of those member cards, in this case a "Fry's card," which qualifies you for various discounts. Sort of a hokey promotion, but it made for a nice little scene at the checkout yesterday. Seems nobody had their Fry's card along. The store doesn't care if you use your card or somebody else's, so two checkout lines were halted until a customer with a card was hunted down. That customer was a somewhat crabby looking young tough, but it was obvious he got a kick out of having a half-dozen people use his Fry's card. He kept it out in case anybody else needed it.

I hate to act shocked at evidence of friendly people in the city, but such evidence is always reassuring. At the same time, you hear of a gruesome murder of a child in the rough part of town who was unfortunate enough to witness a drug deal, and you know that all is not honky dory in this part of the world. You really have to keep up the effort to find the best in people or you'll be driven to despair by the worst.