Last week my children and I drove south to Connecticut to visit family. It was a beautiful, sunny spring day full of blue skies, daffodils and blossoming trees.
On the way home, we were driving up I-95 in our mini-van when the back left tire blew out. The drizzle clouds had moved in and darkness was on its way. Thankful for cell phones and AAA, we made the necessary calls and then sat back to wait for help to arrive. Things such as this had happened before, and though thankful for the help, we were used to a long wait.
But much to our surprise, within 10 minutes help arrived in the form of a crusty old Mainer with a strong back and a tough smile. He changed our tire in record time with only a few friendly "yups" and "nopes" directed toward us. We phoned ahead to the Sears at the Maine Mall in Portland to find out if we could have a new tire put on. The man on the phone was fatherly and understanding, encouraging us to get there before closing time.
When we arrived at the Sears, the manager was outside waiting for us, and immediately directed us into the garage. The whole process was finished in less than an hour. After having dinner at the mall food court, we went back to get our car and were met with smiles and friendliness.
What could have been a long, stressful evening actually turned out to be rather delightful. Mainers are like one big family. They look out for each other and for their visitors. These men didn't know me but they went out of their way to help me and were friendly to boot.
As we continued north that night through the darkness and rain, I thought back to the big, blue welcome sign we had passed a few hours before: Welcome to Maine, The Way Life Should Be. Isn't that the truth?