Reader story: Joany’s sometimes stall

A road side stall is a dream come true for reader Joan Rockwell.

Words: Joan Rockwell

“You want me to build you a what?” asks my Beloved, feigning surprise, although we both know I’ve been dropping hints for ages.

“I want you to build me a staaaall!” I say excitedly, attempting to strike a tone that implies a stall will so improve our lifestyle we’ll forever wonder why we hadn’t built one sooner. “A roadside stall! Like the ones you see in quaint country places with the quaint honesty boxes.”

I watch Beloved’s face for stress indicators; not easy to do when he’s sporting a massive beard. I’m aware I ask a lot from the man who does only things I really, really can’t do myself, like digging big holes, handling the fowl and building things like a stall.

I love the roadside stalls that dot the rural landscape, suddenly appearing on a windy road when you least expect it, so I was trying not to let on just how desperate I was for one of my own. My Beloved took a moment to respond, giving the impression he was carefully considering the pros and cons.

On the other hand, I had already thoroughly convinced myself a stall would not only bring joy to those encountering it, but also add character to our boundary. The loose change would come in handy, meaning I may never again need to withdraw cash from an ATM.

“I can see you’re desperate for a stall,” says My Beloved. Dammit. “I just don’t think it’s safe for cars to pull over here,” he says authoritatively, gesturing towards the stall’s proposed location.

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Fortunately, I had foreseen this predictable line of argument and already done my research. I may not be skilled with hole digging, fowl handling and stall building, but I have been blessed with a personality well suited to navigating local government bureaucracy.

“I’ve checked with the council and they say there’s no policy on roadside stalls.”

My Beloved looks at me cynically, like I’d manufactured this information. Did he seriously think I’d stoop to telling porkies in order to get a stall? Maybe.

“It’s just as well we don’t live in a Super City, otherwise we’d probably need to apply for resource consent,” I joke. My Beloved cracks a reluctant smile. Finally, a glimmer of stall building hope.

“This spot is a dream stall location,” I explain, unwilling to give in and now sounding a little like a real estate agent. “This is the point in the road where phone reception returns. Cars stop to make calls and to let their kids vomit – I’ve seen them! It’s perfect for a stall. And maybe a sick bucket. And running water. Plus it’s my birthday soon and I really, really want a stall for a present.” I flash what I like to think is my winning smile.

Reluctantly, my Beloved agrees, although later I learn this is because he knew I’d skipped breakfast and was minutes away from a low blood sugar outburst.

“I’ll build you a stall on two conditions. One, I am absolved of all stall-related responsibility post-construction; and two, you call it ‘The Sometimes Stall.’”

“The Sometimes Stall? That’s not very quaint.”

“It’s a perfect name for your staaaall!” he says, mimicking me. “Because you’ll sometimes remember to put stuff in it to sell, and sometimes you won’t.”

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I scoff at the suggestion. But knowing how quickly I lose interest in things I was formerly really, really excited about, I quickly change the topic to more pressing matters, like colour schemes for the sign. But everyone loves it – I’ve even had fan mail!


NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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