Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Good Neighbor

Photo by M Barrett Miller

A good neighbor.

The other morning I couldn’t help but hear an elderly man, who was sitting next to me at Starbucks, lament that courtesy, respect and service were gone in this country.
He was speaking loudly enough to draw in patrons from half way across the room who were more than happy to shake their collective heads in wonder to what he was carrying on about.
Since I was unintentionally roped into the conversation I countered his whinging by sharing the following with him, after determining that he was a neighborhood resident and knew the service station I was going to tell him about-

I began my tale with…
A few weeks ago I was driving north on 35th Avenue NE (Seattle). When I crossed 125th the pickup truck that had turned on to 125th in front of me dropped most of his higgledy piggledy load on to the street right in front of me. The nearness of his trespass, and oncoming traffic, forced me to drive right through the mess.
At first it seemed I was delivered unscathed.
A block or so later the thump under my front left told me life was not going to remain so simple.
I turned around and went back to where the fella was loading his treasures back into his truck. I walked across the street and told him I had found a four-inch rod sticking out of my tire. My thought at that moment was to enlist his help and hit him up for the price of a new Michelin.
Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to understand and kept shaking his head in a “who me” kind of way.
I knew this was going nowhere so I crossed back to my car to begin the jacking up and changing the tire nightmare.

I’ve had minor servicing and assistance from Bill Waters, the owner of the Spirit Service station on 35th Ave NE & NE 95th in the past, so I called him to see if he would have a tire I could buy when I finished changing my tire.
I was amazed by his response. “I’ll close the station and come down there and help you with the tire. You can then drive up here in an hour or so and we’ll put on the new one.”
He was there in a heartbeat.
As only a professional can manage, he had my car ready to roll on the mini tire within minutes.
As promised, I rolled out of his station two hours later on a brand new tire.

The old digger was about to reply to my little story when I went in for the kill.
I told him I was at the Spirit station one Sunday evening. When I rolled into my aisle I saw a little old lady standing staring at her designated pump in the most lost of ways. I could tell she was way out of her comfort zone and asked her if I could help. She told me she always came into Bill’s station, as he always had someone there to help her buy gas. She was a bit embarrassed that she hadn’t bought her gas when the station was open or ever learned how to pump her own gas.
I thought of my mother and how she would have been totally lost when most stations went to self-serve.
After a few laughs she was on her way with a full tank.
I recall thinking at the time that it was a real shame that the kind of service some of us had experienced as we grew up was disappearing.
When Bill came to my rescue he renewed my faith.
Bill’s station may be pennies more expensive but you’re getting way more for your dollars than you’ll ever get at the kiosk only joints.
Oh, the old boy at Starbucks said he’d buy a tank at the Spirit gas station.
Hope he does-
Thanks Bill.

M Barrett Miller
Let Kids Be Kids, Inc.

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