The first day and night of our vacation was spent in a parking lot by the Cebco Village Mart in Marion, PA. The good news was, we were extremely blessed to have landed in a most exceptional town. Every person we met helped us with everything from knowledge sharing to food to moral support. The bad news was, the mechanical problems turned out to be more complex then Carl initially thought.
First thing in the morning we traveled (very slowly) the eight miles from the Cebco to the auto parts store. Carl had been in touch, and they knew we were coming. We pulled into the parking lot, and Carl asked me to please go in and talk to them while he put on some work clothes to begin the repair.
The employees, Dave, Gin (short for Virginia) and Tom, had seen us drive in. When I walked through the door, they had a warm and empathic welcome at the ready. I asked were we should park to do the maintenance and possibly stay the night. Dave pointed out an area and I expressed our appreciation. He replied, “Helping you is no problem. It’s just what my daddy taught me. My dad would take care of anyone who needed help. So, you just let us know what you need.”
I mentioned that we needed a siphon hose and Gin spoke up. “My father has a length of hose he had just put into recycling. I’ll call him up and have him bring it on over.”
Again overwhelmed with emotion, I asked, “are either of you huggers?” They both replied, “normally no, but from you, yeah.” How cool is that?
I went out to Carl and gave him the update. He told me that we needed some wood pieces to stack up and drive the RV onto (to create space to work under it). We were in a business area, and across the street was a huge auto dealership. I crossed the four lanes of highway and found the “do-it-all man” Carroll. He was extremely helpful and led me to his tool shop where he had more than enough lumber to do the job. He told me to just help myself and if we needed anything else to let him know.
Later, needing a tool, I did walk back over but was unable to find him. I went into the main building to the receptionist desk and met Billie Jo. We hit it off immediately and even exchanged contact information. She knew where Carrol was and called him on his phone. Again, his attitude and support impressed me. Before heading back to Carl, I asked Carroll if I could talk to his supervisor to tell him or her just how great he was to these Vermonters down on their luck. He led me to his boss, the owner of the business! I praised Carroll, and then the owner thanked me for the feedback. He said that if we need anything at all, Carroll would be there for us. Feeling indebted I asked if I could rake and do some cleanup on their property in exchange. The owner wouldn’t have anything to do with that. Instead he offered us a free lunch in the restaurant area.
I went back to Carl and shared the latest events. He said that Gin had brought the hose out to him. She also said that her mother really wanted to make us some dinner or some cookies, but they were too busy preparing for moving to a new home.
Carl continued to work on the RV, and when I wasn’t needed to assist, I walked the short distance to the railroad tracks.
I placed a penny, nickel, dime and quarter on the tracks. My parents used to stop by the railroad tracks at times so my siblings and I could do the very same thing. If you have never done this before and are curious, here’s a photo of what the train does to the coins.
Over the next two days, Carl continued to work on the RV. Unfortunately, there were problems with the wrong parts being delivered, a malfunctioning part and quite a bit of frustration. Dave and all the employees in the parts store continued to go out of their way to help.
A guy who lived next door came over and asked if he could help. He had been playing basketball with his family, a refreshing sight to see. Carl didn’t need any help, so I started talking with him. He was from Alaska (lived there 20+ years) and moved to where he is now so that his wife and their three kids could be close to his wife’s mother. So honorable.
At one point we needed more ice for the RV refrigerator. The nearest store was too far away for me to walk. So, I went back to see Billie Jo, and she filled a bag of ice for us from the restaurant. She and I continued to talk and discussed people and how everyone has their own challenges/battles. She shared a favorite saying of hers: “Do not judge.” Simple but oh so meaningful.
All this time Carl and I were going into the parts store to wash our hands and use their bathrooms. Before long Dave said, “You are family now, don’t walk all the way to the front door every time; come in the side door.”
Again, trying to show my appreciation but also to get a laugh, I found a big push broom (like school janitors use). I started pushing it up and down the aisles. Everyone laughed, except for the manager who hadn’t met us yet. He didn’t know what to make of the situation and made me stop.
Eventually, all the parts, tools and Carl’s knowledge had the RV running like a top. We decided to spend the night (it was already late afternoon) and leave in the morning.
As they closed shop, before they went home, our three dear friends came out to say goodbye.
A most special goodbye came from Tom. He explained to me that he is a Shriner. My favorite part of any parade is the Shriner cars! As he handed me a pretty blue pouch, he explained that it held one of few special Shriner coins that he had purchased for gifts. He wanted me to have it. So touched and proud, I felt like I was standing ten feet tall.
I said goodbye to Gin and found out we are both Scorpio’s and a year apart in age. We laughed about the temperament of a Scorpio and God help anyone who ticks us off!
Dave came by before he left and for someone that was not a hugger, gave a pretty amazing one.
Before calling it a night, I went to the snack bar next door to get a creemee. I had $2 on me, and a small size, with tax came to exactly that. I paid and the girl proceeded to make a pretty darn large small creemee for me.
She then turned and asked, “Would you like sprinkles on it?” I replied, “But I don’t have the money.” She looked at me smiling. She paused and then asked again, “Would you like sprinkles on it?”
I laughed as I realized that she too was being extra kind and giving. With thanks in my voice I said, “If some colored sprinkles fell on it, that would be ok.”
What an amazing journey! The first three days of our vacation were far from what we planned. But like I told Carl as we left, “You know, we have experienced more human kindness in the last three days then some people may encounter in a lifetime. I don’t know about you, but I feel so energized and have a renewed faith in mankind.”
Tom and I with the Shriner coin he gave me.
Julie Gagnon Prior
Julie Gagnon Prior resides in Grand Isle with her partner Carl and their 5 dogs. Prior has been battling Lyme Disease for several years, which she
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