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Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, Justin wrote Iceland, a blog about his band’s American tour. Justin isn’t on tour anymore, but Iceland continues, twice a week, on City Desk.

“I fear I have a hardware-related problem,” I explained to the owner of my local hardware store. “Subcategory: plumbing.”

“Yes,” replied the hardware-store owner.

“My house is equipped with a, ahem, main, ahem, hot water, ahem, delivery line,” I continued. “My terminology is incorrect, but you understand my meaning?”

“Yes,” replied the hardware-store owner.

“And the small, ahem, wheel that turns this, ahem, delivery line on and off has gone missing,” I explained.

“Yes,” replied the hardware-store owner.

“Because this wheel is gone, I fear that, in the event of a water emergency, I will not be able to, ahem, turn off the water that flows to this, ahem, main water-delivery valve,” I explained. “My terminology is incorrect, but you understand my meaning?”

“Yes,” replied the hardware-store owner.

“So, my question to you, sir: Do you sell the replacement, ahem, wheels that, ahem, turn this water-delivery line on and off?” I paused. “Do you understand?” The hardware-store owner nodded and walked to the back of the store. I followed.

“You know, Justin,” the hardware-store owner began. I blinked—-I was not aware that this local businessperson knew my name. “I sense that you are reluctant to call a plumber to complete a small job like this one. After all, such a job may be difficult to do on one’s own, but not so extensive as to require an expensive contractor.”

“Correct,” I replied.

“However, you should know that you are part of a community,” the hardware-store owner explained. “This store is founded on this community principle. Thus, I have the names and numbers of many handypersons who would be happy to complete small jobs like this one at a fraction of what a professional plumber would charge. I do not give these numbers out willy-nilly. However, we know you and are here to help you. Would you like one of these numbers?”

“I am speechless,” I replied. I considered the hardware-store owner’s generous offer. I have become an insider at this hardware store, I thought. Thus, I am privy to insider information. But what of the anonymous householder/tenant in need of home repair? Where does this invisible man turn for advice? No specialized list of handyperson numbers awaits this tragic figure. He or she is God’s lonely man or woman. He or she must go it alone. Such is the problem of community—-communities are islands and must remain exclusive to remain viable. By definition, as the community walks, it rolls up its red carpet behind itself. Will our society ever escape this ubiquitous, vicious, inescapable game of who-knows-who?

“Do you want one of the numbers?” the hardware-store owner repeated.

“Thank you,” I replied. “I think I will take one of those numbers.”