Same job, different uniform.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

"Mind Your Dress, Nan."

A delightful middle-aged man with a thoroughly Glaswegian accent said this to my friend Ann Malcolm on the banks of Loch Lomond in the late summer of 2000.

She responded pleasantly and later explained to me why she loves the Glaswegians: Unlike their neighbors to the East, they are people without pretension. Glasgow has a 2,000 year history, much of it centered around trade and heavy industry. It is a blue collar town that is at last experiencing a cultural renaissance of sorts. But its roots in shipbuilding, trade and manufacturing remain and the effects of a depressed economy linger.

Many Glaswegians live hard lives. The crime rate in Glasgow is (in most cases) higher than the Scottish average. The cost of living is high, but wages are average. As a result, the people are a little rough around the edges. Modest. Plain spoken. These are the people among whom Ann and her husband labored as ministers for ten years.

I know some of these people, and every now and then I will catch a glimpse of them in the grocery store or on the street. Strangers with wrinkled faces who warn you to mind your dress, or too-skinny teenage boys with beat up tennis shoes who hold the door.

At the stoplight near the Overland Cinema tonight, one of them walked through the crosswalk. I caught his eye for a moment and he looked away. I happened to be listening to The Dargason of St. Paul's Suite ( I looked the title up) and half way through the piece it crescendos. I listen to my music very loudly. The passerby heard it, and, still walking, looked up and around for the source. He sussed out that it was me and raised his arm and made a small quick motion as if conducting an orchestra. Smiling. I laughed and he reached the sidewalk and walked on.

He had the air of Glasgow.

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