Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The People You Meet, Ottawa, IL
Today (Wednesday) is kind of a down day for us as we prepare to depart tomorrow for California. The Admiral likes to come back to a shipshape boat, which includes all laundry done. We borrowed the marina courtesy car and ran into town for laundry, breakfast and took a minute to drop in to the local hardware store, Home Hardware. It was here that my loving First Mate met Homer.
We were looking for (among other things) a water filter for our ice maker and a spider web brush. I don’t think I’ve mentioned the spiders much, but since Little Current, Ontario dealing with them has become a daily battle. The spiders are winning, but that’s another story. When Carrie began chatting with an old guy deep in aisle 12, by the water filters, I knew she would be awhile. In fact, as I slid away quietly from their conversation I smiled to myself thinking, I don’t have to worry about getting old; she loves little old men. Besides, I noticed the resemblance of this old gentleman to Carrie’s Grandpa Jones, whom she loved dearly. Knowing we had to get back to the Laundromat to rescue our clothes from the dryers, I hurried through the aisles picking up what we needed.
So, when Carrie rejoined me in the tool aisle about ten minutes later, where I had (not surprisingly she said) gotten side tracked myself, I was also not surprised to see tears in her eyes.
She told me that Homer was 81 years young, and that years earlier he had lost the complete use of his arms and hands, which hung limply at his sides as he spoke. He told Carrie that his wife dressed him, fed him and that she was his right and left hand, literally. Carrie remarked back, “In sickness and in health, huh?” Homer smiled at her and said, “Good for you, honey”, as if to acknowledge that she got it.
Homer knew everything and everyone in Ottawa, and gave Carrie at least twenty ideas on places to eat and visit while we were in town. “Boy could he chat”, she said. That would be like hearing Richard Petty say, “Man, that guy sure can drive!”
But, here’s the best part. Homer wasn’t just some guy wandering around the store picking up young chicks. He had worked there for over 40 years and was still counting. He could not lift an arm to point at anything on the shelves, but the store still paid him to come in just to help customers find things (a tip of the hat to whoever owns Home Hardware). Like Ottawa, Homer knew the store from top to bottom and everything in it. As we were leaving he told us, “Next time you come through town, you be sure and stop by and say hi, even if you don’t need anything.”
You go, Homer!