Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Amazing People Everywhere

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I am going to admit something.

I did not expect to get warm fuzzies with anyone here in this small town. I don't know why. I just planned to focus on work and traveling on weekends to spend time with my parents.

I'm living about 9.5 miles from work because I could not find a place in the town where I am assigned. Every rental I viewed in the assignment town was jaw droppingly, heart skippingly, absolutely terrible. I'm talking mustard yellow shag carpet with olive green walls and the nastiest kitchens

and bathrooms you can imagine. If I'm going to be honest, I had a short panic attack between lodging hunting and arriving at my sister's house an hour later. "What the heck am I doing??" I thought.

The following day, I traversed 10 minutes north of the assignment town and found a charming (yes!) long-term-rental motel that had been renovated into an Embassy Suites-type place. Only better. Fully furnished with really upscale furniture, a dining area, fully stocked kitchen and bath, comfortable queen bed and spacious closet. The owners are amazing - and that is another story for another day (very soon!)...

I've been here a week.

Work is well stocked with equipment, well staffed, and very, very quiet. Most of my patients are ready to head home. My fellow therapists are very welcoming and kind! I should be in heaven....

...and I'm missing my loud, confused patients from station two in the northern California fishing village.

I go back to my life instructions (March 5):

Give up all the other worlds

except the one to which you belong.

It's time to connect with the locals.

My bike needed its spring maintenance (like an oil change for cars). The owners of my motel recommended a local guy who doesn't have a storefront, but who does a great job servicing and refurbishing bikes in his "shop" at home.

Tonight after work, I looked up the Bike Guy and called him. Dave exuded midwestern hospitality. Since he lived on a gravel road, he suggested we meet at the local gas station so he could show me where his "shop" was.

"Meet me at the Casey's at 6:45, and I'll lead the way," Dave said.

At 6:45 sharp, hs truck pulled into the Casey's.

We shook hands through his truck window and entered into a quick discussion about why I was in Kansas for 3 months. Turned out Dave had gone through occupational therapy following a finger surgery and a knee surgery. His 101-year-old mom had lived in the building I was assigned to, and she had passed just weeks before I arrived. He knew most of the staff at the building and was very fond of them.

I like this guy already!

I followed his pickup truck past the Dairy Queen, along the two-lane roads between the two towns, and turned left onto a gravel road.

"I'm glad my mom doesn't know I'm doing this!" I thought as I drove, knowing I was safe, but realizing that it might not sound safe to a mom.

Slowing as the dust on the road curled up like fingers motioning, I followed Dave into his driveway. I could see the wide door of his workspace open in an outbuilding.

I should have taken a photo of "the shop." Rows of bikes were lined up in his shop. Tools were organized. It was grand! (Those of you who know me know I would rather shop a hardware store than a mall.)

While I unloaded my Giant, and we set up the terms of service, Dave told me his story (everyone has one!)...and I knew right away, he had found his passion by accident. Literally, he had hurt his back and could no longer do the work he had enjoyed. The problem was he was 59, and no one would hire him. By fluke, he bought a bike repair business, and he loved what he was doing!

What's amazing is the connection he had with the owners of my motel! Catch me again very soon for that story!

We got along so well that he motioned over to me. "C'mon, I want you to meet my wife!"

I tagged along behind him as he called through the kitchen to his wife. In the living room were his wife and her mother, a beautiful older lady sitting in a recliner with a large tray on her lap. I was immediately drawn to her.

After a few minutes of talk, I felt as if I had known these people forever. It hit me how lucky I was to run into this family. This can happen anywhere.

It doesn't matter where you are. You find great people anywhere you go.

This experience with the Bike Guy and his family confirmed for me that in order to live life fully, I must continue immersing myself in my current culture.

What about you?
Are you?


  1. So glad you are making connections. Some of my patients have touched my heart but I haven't connected with the locals particularly yet.
    But Oh Lord! Did you see the footage from the tornado in Dallas. When I first saw the images of the nursing home I felt absolutely sick. So relieved to find there were no fatalities.

  2. E,
    I do believe it is easier in some places than others to connect! I hopped online at your mention of Dallas - thank God no residents were killed. That would be a SNF's biggest nightmare!

    Hang in there. One day we will be in "meeting" proximity, probably in the Northwest!