Kindness of Strangers

 Click HERE to access the podcast episode

Welcome to this week's episode of #TheSpaceinBetween called #TheKindnessofStrangers.

The pandemic has illustrated the importance of human contact. We have all been cloistered inside for over a year. We haven't had the level of social interaction that we enjoyed pre pandemic, and this has made us all acutely aware of how much we need one another.

It has been a time of deep reflection, both of the personal level, as well as at the larger societal level. This period of time has laid bare many of the inadequacies of old structures and systems -  political, social, economic, and education, and the belief systems attached to these structures, which until the pandemic we blindly followed and now we are beginning to realize may no longer fit with the world as it currently exists. 

For example, we've all been engaged in rethinking the nature of work and learning in a world characterized by continuous disruption and exponential change. There is now a broad awareness and an increasing acceptance of our collective responsibility for addressing large scale global challenges, climate equity equality, and I think a dawning recognition that we're up to these challenges , that we are capable of doing remarkable things as human beings when we work together.

This feeling of optimism and a broader awareness of the needs of others has also impacted the relationship between people at an individual and community level. We seem to have learned to be more tolerant of one another and more accepting of differing opinions.

We have struggled to come to terms with our own biases, that we're a product of a different time, and I get the sense that we are becoming more open to change;to shedding these tightly held beliefs in favour of something better. 

With all of this in mind, I wonder whether we are becoming kinder and more desirous of reaching out a helping hand to those in need.

This is what I've come to believe following a little adventure I had just over a week ago. So I thought I'd share this with you on this episode of the space in between.

My anniversary is on June 19th and every year, my wife and I take a trip somewhere to celebrate -  This year marks our 28th together.

Typically we go to Tofino on Vancouver island, a favorite place of ours, but this year we decided we wanted to do something different. We thought we would go to the beautiful town of Rossland, BC, a historic gold, rush mining town located high in the Monashee mountain range in the West Kooteney's. It's the site of Red Mountain, which boasts some of the best powder skiing in all of Canada.

A few years ago, an upscale, Manhattanesque  contemporary, five-star hotel was built at the base of Red Mountain, called the Josie. So we booked a room at the Josie, and on Friday, June 18th, we packed up our car with bikes and golf clubs and paddle boards and left the coast for the interior. Our plan was to spend a couple of nights at the Josie hotel and then push on to Kimberly BC.

The drive from the coast to Rossland is a long one, taking approximately eight hours, but it was about beautiful day for driving - 23 degrees centigrade and not a cloud in the sky. About four hours into the trip and we're heading down the long steep hill into Keremeos, when all of a sudden it felt hot,  really hot (little did we know this was the start of the Heat Dome which was see temperatures in the Province rise to historic levels)

So I turned to my wife, Sharon, and I said, Sharon, can you turn on the air conditioning? She pushed the air conditioning button and nothing happened as we pulled into Keremeos and approached the first traffic light, getting ready to turn left, when all of a sudden the car died. I coasted through the intersection with a cacophony of horns sounding behind me and pulled off to the side of the road, let the car sit for a few minutes. Tried to start it again and it started. 

We continued on our way towards a Ossoyos. Ossoyos  is the Southern most town in the Okanagan valley of British Columbia. It is Canada's only Desert - often referred to as the Palm Springs of Canada. As we were pulling into Ossoyos, we stopped to get some gas in a little shopping center, which included a drive through to A&W, and a convenience store

We filled up with gas, went into the store to get some water and pulled out right in front of the A & W drive through, and the car died. This time, it wouldn't start at all. Here we were a little after four o'clock on a Friday in a resort area in the Okanagan valley. And everybody was closing up shop for the weekend.

Our first thought was we needed to find a mechanic. So we pulled out our phones and called around. Nobody answered their phones and we assumed they had closed early. Then we thought we needed a tow truck, and we tried the towing companies.  Once again, no one was available. We also thought about renting a hotel room in a Ossoyos, and we called around to all the hotels, no rooms available.

We thought maybe we should rent a car and drive on to Rossland, only to discover there are no car rental agencies in the Ossoyos. Eventually a tow truck driver from Rogers towing called us back and said “I can come in and put your car on a big flat bed” All our tow trucks are put away for the weekend, but we do have a flat bed that we use for hauling trucks.

I can send that out and pick up your car and tow it off to a collision center"

At that point, we also realized is that our BCAA membership had not been renewed, so we were going to have to pay for the tow.  With one problem solved, we had another, what were we going to do for the evening, and how we were going to get to Red Mountain?

We decided we couldn't make it, so we called and cancelled our reservation at the Josie hotel. In an effort to find transportation, we had called U Haul and asked them if they had any vans available, that we might be able to rent. They replied, "no, we don't, and we're closing for the day"

So here we were car dead in front of the A &W Drive-thru with a line of cars behind us, waiting for a tow truck to tow us off to a collision center, but nowhere to go.

And then something quite remarkable happened. All the people we called, started to call us back. We got a call back from the manager U Haul to say "we're closing, but we do have a truck it's a half ton- you want it?"

We thought, well, we better get some kind of transportation. So we said, "sure, but we can't get there. We're stuck in the middle of this shopping mall" So she said, "I'll have my husband come over and pick up your wife" So sure enough a car arrived with the husband of the manager of the U Haul center to pick up my wife, Sharon. While that was happening, the tow truck arrived, a massive flat bed and the driver asked for our BCAA membership - My wife started to explain that we hadn’t renewed our membership, but he interrupted and said with a wink “You have it, so no problem” (It did turn out that we had actually renewed the membership after all)

We couldn't get the car into neutral because there was no power whatsoever. So the tow truck driver from Randy's towing got out of the truck and Jump-started the car so we could put int in neutral. He and I pushed the car around so we could get it aligned with the flatbed, but we couldn't get the car on the flatbed because we couldn't drive it, or push it up the ramp

So he had to get all the winches out and we actually had to winch the car up the air to placed on top of the flatbed, our tow truck driver. Rick was a big burly guy who looked at me with a wry smile and said, "It's really hot out here. I don't like the fact that you guys are sitting out in this boiling sun for so long, why don't you hop in the cab, come with me and we'll drop the car off" Along the way he said, I want to stop at the seven 11 for a minute. I thought, “oh boy” So we stopped at the seven 11 and he goes inside and he comes out with an arm full of Gatorade and says,  "I'm really worried that you guys getting dehydrated, so I bought you some Gatorade" So with a handful of Gatorade, we proceeded on to the collision center. By the time we arrived, my wife was already sitting behind the wheel of the big half ton, U haul truck. Next door to the collision center was an auto mechanic’s shop.

Our tow truck driver got on the phone and phoned up Dean of Dean's garage. And said, "we've got a problem here. We've got a couple they're stuck on the road.  It's their anniversary. They have nowhere to go." Is there any chance you can come in and have a look at the car?" 

By this time it was about 6:30 in the evening and Dean was probably having dinner at home with his family, but he said, "sure, I'll come in and have a look" So Dean arrived. He asked what happened with the car. He looked at it and he said, "I can't do anything now", but I'll put it in my garage so that all your things will be protected  and I'll have a look at it on Monday"

So with our transportation issues resolved, we now needed to find a place to stay. So we called up the Josie hotel again and said, we really want our hotel room back we're coming. And they said fine. So we loaded up the big U-Haul and proceeded to Rossland BC, about three hours from our current location. We arrived at the Josie hotel at 10:00 PM that evening, as we pulled in and the massive view haul truck, we were greeted by the desk manager, Maciej he said he was sorry for our troubles. and he knew it was late, but he'd asked the dining room to stay open so we could have a meal when we arrived. He also told us "I'm going to waive a whole bunch of fees for you. You've had a horrible experience. We're glad you're here"

So my wife and I grabbed a quick shower and headed to the dining room, and lo and behold, they kept the entire restaurant open for us that evening.

There were no other patrons, and a full compliment of staff. We had an amazing meal at the Josie. People were incredibly kind to us and we stayed there until well after closing, to finish our dinner. We assumed we'd have to stay at the Josie for a few nights, at least until Monday, perhaps Tuesday, when the mechanic had a chance to look at our car.

The next day we were out playing golf and I got a call from Dean. And Dean said, "you know, I was thinking about you guys, your anniversary, that you were stuck in Rossland,  so I decided to go in and have a look at your car today. I think I figured out what the problem is. It's all fixed.You can come and pick it up"
So after our golf game, we loaded up the U-Haul again and drove back to a Ossoyos and picked up our car and proceeded on to Kimberly. We hadn't lost a day. We had more driving to do, but because of the kindness of people that we met along the way, we were able to celebrate anniversary in the hotel we'd booked; to have a beautiful meal, to have a game of golf, and to make it to Kimberly, according to schedule.

I was absolutely blown away by the kindness we experienced throughout this whole trip. It's hard to say whether it's a result of the pandemic or whether it's simply the friendliness of the people in The Okanagan and the west Kooteney's, but I want to dedicate this episode to #Dean'sgarage, to #RogersTowing to #OssoyosUHaul, to the #HotelJosie, and to all the people that showed us such kindness during this difficult time.



I hope this kindness of strangers continues … for what it's worth.

Please join us next week on for what it's worth, where our guest is Comedian  extraordinaire, Ron James. Ron is about to publish a new book called All Over the Map - Rambles and Ruminations
from the Canadian Road - it’s absolutely hilarious. You won't want to miss this episode should be a lot of fun and a great cap off to season two for what it's worth.

Click HERE to access the podcast episode


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